Travel The Gothamist had a post over weekend, "calling out" (I suppose the vernacular would be) some woman on the subway who took her shoes off and laid them on the seat next to her on what looks like a packed train. Which is icky but it's not the worst thing I've seen on underground trains. Plus it wouldn't happen on Merseyrail anyway because they have a no feet or shoes on seats policy, cameras everywhere and a zero tolerance approach. Seriously.
The whole flavour of the Gothamist piece is that this person has taken up a whole seat with her shoes stopping someone else from sitting down which prompts me to ask the question:
Wouldn't you just ask her to move the shoes so you can sit down?
Bizarrely, the answer isn't always yes.
Similar scenarios play out on my buses of travel all the time. Someone will sit with their bag or something else on the adjoining seat and everyone who gets on will do everything other than ask them to move it so they can sit down. I've been on buses where the central isle fills with people standing, none of them in the mood to ask someone to clear a seat. That's assuming they stand in the isle rather than the area in front of the doors, making it impossible to get on and off, but that's also a different rant.
I'll always ask if I can sit down if I need to. Similarly I'll always move my bag if a bus is filling up, though usually I simply have it on my lap to begin with. Come, join me on the moral high ground. The view is lovely.
Similar scenarios play out in coffee shops and busy libraries, people standing around, waiting, unable to deal with asking someone if they can be a bit more considerate without actually asking them to be more considerate.
But honestly, people's ability to interact with each other is at an all time low, if people won't ask others to simply move their stuff so they can take advantage of rightful facilities. It's fear presumably, the fear that the person you're going to ask will punch them in the face or what have you. Sigh.