Excuse me, sir

The bus was pretty full and the aisles were full of people standing. A seated person got off, leaving their seat empty. The guy standing right next to that seat didn’t sit in it. Instead he offered it to the girl standing in front of him. She refused it, saying she was getting off soon. So he next offered it to the next girl standing ahead of her friend. She also refused it. The man insisted, saying “ladies first”. She said, “mate, those rules don’t exist anymore.” He replied, “they do for me.” The seat ended up being taken by a man standing behind the guy.

This reminded me of the lifts in the building where I used to work. They were really small, and there was only really enough room for one person to exit at a time. So when a large number of people were leaving a lift, it was really only comfortable to do it in single file. Most of the time this worked out well. But there was this one man who’d stand to the side of the door, holding it open with his hand (like he thought the doors sensors were perpetually broken) and say “ladies first” meaning that I or any other lady in the lift would have to brush past him as we left. I got sick of it and ended up telling him it was “not safe” and insisting on him going first.

There’s a difference between being courteous to a stranger, like holding a door open that would otherwise slam in their face, and doing extreme things for “the ladies”. I can understand offering a bus seat to an elderly, disabled, or pregnant person, but to have a seat offered to me just because I’m female is like suggesting that I’m weaker or less able to stand up on a bus. I’d rather see the empty seat to go the nearest person.

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