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.