A maze of manners


The boy-child, blissfully unaware of the manners’ maze that awaits him.

ZimmerBitch has relocated to Wellington for a few well-deserved days of coffee and socialising and socialising over coffee.

One consequence of this is a reliance on public transport; something that’s a bit alien to my usual car-borne existence. Wellington has pretty good public transport in my experience. I know the locals complain and to be honest, the airport-Hutt Valley bus is criminally expensive, but in general whenever I’m in the capital I find I can walk a short distance to a bus-stop and before long a bus comes along that is willing to take me someplace interesting faster than I could walk.

This morning, I had to get from my hotel in funky Cuba Street to Victoria University’s Pipitea campus; a relatively short and mainly picturesque walk, but not one I wanted to do in heels.

Being relatively early morning, the bus was pretty crowded. People were already standing; but since they seemed to be teenagers, I felt ok about grabbing the last seat. It’s only when I sat down that I realised a woman had got on behind me. Really stylishly dressed and professional-looking I figured her to be in her sixties and was about to stand up and offer her my seat when it occurred to me I’m not that much younger than her – and to the rest of the bus we probably both looked more alike than different. I was suddenly struck with one of those dilemmas only the well brought-up could ever experience; was it worse to stay seated – which seemed disrespectful to me – or stand up and effectively say “hey lady, you look old enough to need my seat.”

I stayed put. Being rational, I was only going a few stops anyway. But more importantly, in this youth-obsessed age where sixty is the new thirty five, I figured I’d be mortified if someone – anyone – offered me their seat on the bus.

8 thoughts on “A maze of manners

  1. Su, as a woman in her early sixties (can’t believe that’s even true), I’ve offered a seat to someone who may not be that much older or possibly even younger. I’m in much better shape to stand. But where are the days when men offered women of any age a seat? If that happened, you and I as women wouldn’t be in an dilemma at all!! I rarely use public transportation because where I live, it isn’t practical. But when visiting our daughter in Philadelphia, we routinely use it and the manners quotient, whether in offering a seat, talking very loudly on the phone, or whatever, isn’t in good shape!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Totally agree with you Janet. I think, like you, I regard myself as healthy and quite capable of standing for anyone who seems to need a seat — regardless of age or gender. I also seldom use public transport locally; and after yesterday won’t be in a rush to do it again. Mobile phones do seem to be at the root of many “lapses” in manners. Yesterday as we were pulling away from the bus station platform, a man rang the bell to get off. It turned out he was on his phone and hadn’t noticed we were at this stop. Not only did the bus driver have to stop suddenly, but the man then took ages to tag off the bus because he wouldn’t stop his phone call long enough to find his electronic pass and swipe it. He actually carried on talking while he fiddled around with it. It’s like people live in a little electronic bubble and just don’t notice other people. Sigh!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We feminists have a bit to answer for methinks. Last year, I was offered a seat on a train by a man somewhat younger than me. I was about to hit 53, but was mortified and instead of thanking him, I (cringingly) said, “I’m really not that old”! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Poor fellow was mortified and we were both embarrassed, I hope I didn’t wound him for life and put him off being a gentleman for other women…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah; that’s a tough one. When does chivalry become patronising? It’s taken me years to learn to just accept these small courtesies, after spending most of my life saying “no, it’s alright” “no thanks” etc. It’s like the way we talk down compliments. Sad really, but it seems so ingrained.

      Liked by 1 person

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