For many of us, public transport is a necessity – crammed in between total strangers, things can quickly turn ugly as people fight tooth and nail for seats and the sanctity of a quiet carriage. But it doesn’t have to be this way. LARISSA BRICIS gives you hope for a brighter future, filled with pleases and thank yous.
Public transport is where good manners, and indeed civility, go to die. And boy is it a dramatic, GoT-style apocalyptic death. Human beings seem to be at their shittiest when crammed into tiny carriages on the train, bus, or tram. Skipping queues, swiping seats, ignoring the obvious discomfort of others, intense eye contact, and blatant avoidance of civilities – and that’s a good day.
I once fainted on a crowded bus and not one fellow commuter – not even the guy who watched me fall down – expressed vague concern, or helped me up. Because I know that there are many more fainting fair maidens, and because I occasionally believe in the inherent goodness of humankind, I know that observing common courtesy means that not every trip has to be a nightmare.
For those of us who missed a traditional Victorian education, or the supreme honour of attending a finishing school, here are some quick cheats.
Ps & Qs, please and thank you
Being polite to others is, well, just really nice. Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ can make someone else a little bit happier. Answering questions with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, rather than a Neanderthal’s grunts, demonstrates that you value other people as living, breathing human beings, which is always a nice touch.
Tip: PLEASE use this in other situations, particularly retail. You could even make that waiter with frown lines deeper than the Grand Canyon smile, if only briefly.
Super tip: Manners and charm have always been sexy. Being courteous and polite could help you to score a new beau (if you’re looking for one).
I hate to say it, but your mother/wet nurse was right on this one. Don’t know about you, but standing on a peak hour train with a fellow passenger who’s mistaken you for a pole to grind up on/shoulder to drool on isn’t exactly the life-affirming experience that saturates my dreams.
This may come as a shock to some, but spitting, sneezing, sweating, and dribbling are actions best kept to oneself. Your body is not a gift everyone wants.
Please don’t make me repeat this one – respect your fellow commuters. They’re human beans, sentient beings just like you. Do simple things like holding the door for somebody, or moving your bag off its own personal seat. You never know, you might just reaffirm someone’s faith in humanity, damming the floodwaters of their existential despair. Perhaps that cranky old person next to you will turn out to be a cranky old billionaire, and invite you to summer at their Tuscan villa. And really, that’s the ultimate goal of politeness – extravagant and unlikely personal gain. We live in hope.
So get the basics right – when you can see that you’ve offended somebody, apologise. When somebody looks upset, don’t ignore it. If somebody looks sick, do what you can to help them. Be kind to one another, kiddos. It’s a big, tough world.