You know what really grinds my gears ...
The other day I was riding the subway, as I and at least 3 other people in this city do on a regular basis. I got on the subway and lo and behold, to my utter delight, there were open seats. As we all shuffled on and off the car, I found that indeed, I would be able to sit without even having to race past some old lady and snipe the chair out from under her.
To clarify, this was one of those brand spanking new R160 trains (one of which rolled past me today while I was waiting only to announce via signs in 5 languages that this one was being "tested" and thus not taking on passengers - and this right after I saw the train before it pull out of the station as I was walking down to the platform). So this train has that long row of seats on either side with the bar running up the middle dividing it into two neat sections that fit 3 normally sized people relatively comfortably.
Anyway, I got on the train and found that the two remaining seats were on either side of a youngish girl. Figuring she would slide over when I sat down, I took the seat closest to the door. She didn't slide. No one took the other open seat next to her but she still didn't slide. She didn't slide over to the middle leaving the open seat between us. She didn't slide over somewhat leaving empty space between us and allowing both of us to spread out in a more comfortable manner. No. She just stayed where she was, with a wide open space right next to her, cramping my style.
But what could I do. I wasn't about to stand up. It's a fairly long ride and even if it hadn't been, I prefer sitting when it is an option. I couldn't shove her over or tap her on the shoulder and exclaim, "Excuse me, miss, but would you stop invading my personal space." What, indeed, could I do but grit my teeth and bear the indignity while attempting to comprehend why so many people fail to understand the subtleties of public transit etiquette.
Now, she wasn't an unattractive lady, and had I been looking to rub up on a stranger on a train perhaps I would not have been so put off. Though the glazed eyes and bored expression as she sifted through the track listing on her ipod might have diminished the thrill. And it's not that I mind sitting next to strangers or sitting that close to strangers when the train is full. In fact, once someone a couple stops later filled that empty seat, I felt much more comfortable with the situation, if still confused about the motivations of said bored girl.
The situation, like this post, ended with an anticlimactic bang, and I got of the train still perplexed and then got around, several days later to writing about it. Basically, I don't know why she, and so many others on so many other occasions, do not understand that strangers do not want to be that close to them unless they have to be (and that they should be suspect of any stranger that does). When seats open up, you spread out, you give people their space. And you sure as fuck don't fall asleep on them. I would perhaps be remiss in not claiming that "maybe this is just my opinion" and allowing that "some people might have no concept of personal space, and that's ok". So maybe this is just my opinion. But I doubt it. And it's not ok.