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March 30, 2009 9:57 PM   Subscribe

People who sit in the disability seats when I'm standing on my crutches. People who abuse accessible parking spots. CaughtYa! exposes people who park illegally in disabled spots. [this site is inaccessible - link is to the archive]
posted by desjardins (142 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
There are things that I'll never laugh at. The handicapped. Because there's nothing funny about them. Or any deformity. It's like when you see someone look at a little handicapped and go 'ooh, look at him, he's not able-bodied. I am, I'm prejudiced.' Yeah, well, at least the little handicapped fella is able-minded. Unless he's not, it's difficult to tell with the wheelchair ones.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:03 PM on March 30, 2009 [15 favorites]


K, I'll go ahead and ask the obvious--- how do you take a picture if you're on crutches on the subway? (perhaps this was answered in a 'faq', i just looked at the pix)
posted by jcruelty at 10:05 PM on March 30, 2009


how do you take a picture if you're on crutches on the subway?
Here's my best guess:
With one hand: Hold onto something for balance.
With other hand: take photo.
With both armpits: secure crutches.
I would guess the process is fairly straightforward.

My question is: By sitting in the seat, are you expected to be on the lookout for people with disabilities and to get up when you see them, or is the onus placed on said person with disability?
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:09 PM on March 30, 2009


how do you take a picture if you're on crutches on the subway?

Clutch the crutches with one's armpits to hold them in place, and then lean against a center pole for support. Then you have two free hands, at least in between stops.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:10 PM on March 30, 2009


My question is: By sitting in the seat, are you expected to be on the lookout for people with disabilities and to get up when you see them, or is the onus placed on said person with disability?

In most places I've seen "Priority Seats" there's also a sticker that instructs the seated to give up the seat to the elderly/disabled. I've always assumed that meant that if you see someone who fits that bill, you should get up without being asked.
posted by katillathehun at 10:15 PM on March 30, 2009 [14 favorites]


Anyway I really don't like the standing on my crutches blog.

It's over the top passive aggressive, especially "Get The Fuck Out Of Here, Gimpy" as the title for a guy making eye contact with the camera phone? Buh?

"Hi, I’m An Asshole" has a picture of a guy sitting and reading the paper WITH TWO EMPTY SEATS next to him. USE ONE OF THOSE and quit seething in your self righteous anger.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:18 PM on March 30, 2009 [39 favorites]


I figure that guy got his legs broke 'cause he's a fucking asshole.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:28 PM on March 30, 2009 [16 favorites]


I agree with the importance of acknowledging and respecting ones surroundings, but (in anecdote, like these pics) I have been in autos with people who use their blanket handicap privileges in the absence of handicap passengers. These programs are not fail safes, and people who treat them as such are not approaching the situation fairly, IMHO.
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 10:30 PM on March 30, 2009


My question is: By sitting in the seat, are you expected to be on the lookout for people with disabilities and to get up when you see them, or is the onus placed on said person with disability?

On BART, able-bodied people in these seats almost always volunteer to give their seats to the disabled, elderly, and pregnant (list sorted by probability). Occasionally, I'll see someone who needs the seat ask for it (and they always get it).
posted by zippy at 10:30 PM on March 30, 2009


PassiveAggressiveBlue
posted by mark242 at 10:30 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Hi, I’m An Asshole" has a picture of a guy sitting and reading the paper WITH TWO EMPTY SEATS next to him. USE ONE OF THOSE and quit seething in your self righteous anger.

I rode the subway for a few years, and the paper-readin' feller is pulling the old school middle-seat trick: To keep people from sitting close to him, the Jerk blocks the other seats from access by stretching out and/or putting items on the other seats. This puts the Stander on notice that the Jerk owns those seats. That this particular Jerk is sitting in seats reserved for Disabled People who should not be standing is just icing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:32 PM on March 30, 2009 [19 favorites]


I ride the subway all the damn time and if someone is sitting in the middle seat and you are too much of a wimp to just sit next to him you don't deserve to sit.
posted by aspo at 10:36 PM on March 30, 2009 [24 favorites]


fake
posted by ChickenringNYC at 10:38 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Disability issues will only grow with all of the returning disabled soldiers and the aging boomers, so I am hoping people start respecting handicapped spaces in all their forms.

I have disabled people within my family, so we are forever needing the handicapped parking spaces. Usually they are available, but usually some percentage of them are filled with stickers from people that don't even have tags. Those that were alive before handicapped parking, sloped ramps, and the ADA.

I am also constantly amazed by the the size of vehicles in the last few years. As the SUV craze hit the U.S., I saw mid-sized sedans replaced with trucks and full sized SUVs in these handicapped spots. It made me wonder just what these people had as handicaps yet could even consider climbing in and out of those vehicles.

One note with these photo websites - looks can be deceiving. If possible, I often drop handicapped family members off at the door and go park in the handicapped spot if I think we may have trouble doing the same for pick-up. I always wonder what people think as I sprint out of the car and into the store.
posted by Muddler at 10:38 PM on March 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


I ride the subway all the damn time and if someone is sitting in the middle seat and you are too much of a wimp to just sit next to him you don't deserve to sit.

I think the difference here, and I'll have to look at the photo to confirm, is that the Jerk in this case is not just taking up the middle seat, but a portion of the seating to his left and right. It's typical territorial alpha male bullshit.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:39 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


To keep people from sitting close to him, the Jerk blocks the other seats from access by stretching out and/or putting items on the other seats.

Personally I kind of enjoyed getting right up close and personal with these people with my big stupid friendly face. "Hi! Excuse me! Are you sitting there? Is anyone sitting here?" My favorites were the ones who pulled the big grumpy put out face like they'd just love to say something except for that minor detail of their being totally in the wrong. Friendly aggressive beats passive aggressive almost every time... I usually ride the bus with a 4 year old now which is a whole other topic... but do I teach him that we get our asses up if people get on who need the reserved seats.
posted by nanojath at 10:42 PM on March 30, 2009 [10 favorites]


And if you sit down he will close his legs and move to the side.
posted by aspo at 10:44 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


If it were me, I'd in order of how the situation unfolds

1. Not post some passive aggressive blog.

2. Excuse me, would you mind making room so that I can sit down"

3. "Get the fuck out of the seat, it's a fucking disabled person's seat and I'm fucking disabled unless your fucking disability is the inability to read or chronic assholeism. Sorry for the fucking inconvenience- I can relate it's a fucking drag"
posted by mattoxic at 10:46 PM on March 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


Not all disabilities are as visible as crutches.

The author of the People Who Sit site acknowledges this in the "about the author" sidebar, but doesn't address it further.

There are days when my back injury makes it quite literally impossible to stand on a moving bus and difficult to climb the few stairs leading to non-priority seating. Except for a slight limp and (on the worst days) a very rigid gait, the injury is invisible, though; you wouldn't know I was hobbled unless you asked.

And truthfully? On those days, I either wait for an emptier bus or grit my teeth and push past the pain to reach a non-priority seat, precisely because so many commuters assume that a real disability would be visible and therefore I must be a selfish jackass, not a person entitled to the seat.
posted by Elsa at 10:47 PM on March 30, 2009 [17 favorites]


I missed one: In "I can't see you, I'm reading a book," the guy is sitting (see the reflection) and he's still kibitzing about someone sitting in the priority seating.

Person Jerk first, disability second.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:47 PM on March 30, 2009 [7 favorites]


Clutch the crutches with one's armpits to hold them in place, and then lean against a center pole for support.
You can't do that because someone would take a picture of you and put you on Pole Leaning Douchebag.
posted by tellurian at 10:48 PM on March 30, 2009 [21 favorites]


You can't do that because someone would take a picture of you and put you on Pole Leaning Douchebag.

That's awesome.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:52 PM on March 30, 2009


WTF? PLD? GAG! Literally.
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 11:01 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Obviously there are inconsiderate jerks on the subway but when I lived in NYC I fractured my scapula and was just as injured as the guy on crutches. I looked exactly like all of those people on his blog.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 11:02 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is there a site that keeps track of the assholes who create and post to sites like this?
posted by troybob at 11:03 PM on March 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


Just want to mention, when my mom was dying of breast cancer, after a while, she applied and got the disabled tags for her car.

We'd drive her to the mall for an outing, and get a wheelchair when we got there (she could still walk with a cane at this point).

After we pushed her around in her wheelchair, and got dinner, and were done, I'd be sent to get the car to pick her up at the entrance.

I can't tell you how many times people said nasty things to me when I went to get the car. And you know what? All they really did was give me a bit more misery while my mom was dying. Me, I would have parked in the middle of Marshall Fields if it got her closer to where we picked up a complementary wheelchair for her.

So as much as I'm unhappy as the next person when I see some really muscle-y guy with the license plate R4Mb0 climb into and out of his jeep parked in handicapped parking - I'm also much less able to jump to conclusions when I see someone get into a car who doesn't appear to be particularly handicapped.
posted by ugf at 11:03 PM on March 30, 2009 [41 favorites]


I'm glad I don't have a horse in this race to the bottom.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:25 PM on March 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


obese white woman walking fine not driving anyone else and visually UNimpaired because I saw her look at her receipt without glasses and then go back to claim the 4o cents that she was overcharged

LOL
posted by troybob at 11:31 PM on March 30, 2009


I'll be the first to give my seat up for disabled or moms or elderly on the bus. It's just courteous.

Having said that, I'd like a little caption beneath each picture : "I (did / did not) ask this person to move or help accomodate me". I feel for you, crutches on public transportation guy, but a little initiative would serve you well.
posted by boo_radley at 11:41 PM on March 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, instead of taking pictures of cars abusing handicap tags/ placards, report them to the DMV. In Colorado, the tag can be revoked and a $1,000 fine levied.
posted by boo_radley at 11:46 PM on March 30, 2009


So I have this great idea for a site where I out people who ride bikes on sidewalks. Cause they shouldn't. Cause it's an epic Dick Move.

Oh, and I can't aim a camera at them while I'm passing them riding on the street. Where they should. And they aren't.
posted by sourwookie at 11:50 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


After seeing a number of fat people somehow finagle "handicap" stickers for their cars, I confess that I've grown a bit cynical. (nb: We're not talking people with genuine medical conditions; we're talking lazy lard-assed couch potatoes gaming the system for a premium parking space).
posted by RavinDave at 11:52 PM on March 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


We're not talking people with genuine medical conditions; we're talking lazy lard-assed couch potatoes gaming the system for a premium parking space).

They get together with the welfare queens on the weekends and go bowling.

But seriously, how do you know which are which? Do you perhaps perform physical exams on each person exiting their vehicle? (And where can I sign up?)
posted by peggynature at 11:58 PM on March 30, 2009 [26 favorites]


There's a really, really simple solution for the guy in the first link (and others like him). Look for someone sitting in a seat you could use. Smile and say 'Excuse me, my broken leg/advanced pregnancy/serious heart condition is making it difficult for me to stand- could I please have your seat?' Unless the person you ask doesn't speak your language, is a psychopath, or has some disability of their own that isn't readily visible, he or she will stand. If not, someone nearby will.
I understand my revolutionary method could be difficult if you are chronically shy. I don't think this guy falls under that category. He just likes to moan.
posted by Wroksie at 12:01 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I parked in a handicap spot once. I got a $100+ ticket for it too. Having lived and grown up in the suburbs, I never realized there were handicap parallel parking spots. I also didn't notice the sign until I came back 30 minutes later. Neither did the two friends who were with me.

That's when it dawned on me why the lady three cars up was giving me dirty looks when I parked. I wish she had said something. All she would have had to say was "Excuse me, did you realize you parked in a handicapped parking spot?" I would have said "No ma'am, I didn't. Thank you for telling me," and I would have moved my car.

I'm glad sites like Caughtya didn't exist when I did this. I'd hate to be branded an asshole for eternity over a honest mistake.
posted by robtf3 at 12:05 AM on March 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


Shame everyone just seems to have gone to the first link - Peter Tan's blog is much more interesting. The bit where he writes about a wheelchair that is too steep to be safe is a bit of an eye-opener. Kind of sad really - the company in question actually did put some effort into making their facilities accessible, but completely cocked it up. How hard would it have been to read the standard and design something that conformed to it?

I must say, I cannot imagine how people in wheelchairs get around in a city like Hong Kong, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur.
posted by awfurby at 12:12 AM on March 31, 2009


You know what you can't see from the safe distance of a high horse? Chronic pain (as in having to limit your activity so you don't spend the next day miserable in bed and begging the doc to up your meds).

It's bad enough that this kind of creepy stalkerism is more offensive than the perceived parking infractions; but you would think we'd have learned by now that assumptions (particularly those that seem little more than pretext for exercising some other prejudice) are not necessarily truth.
posted by troybob at 12:15 AM on March 31, 2009 [13 favorites]


peggynature But seriously, how do you know which are which?

Um ... because I know several people who abuse it.
posted by RavinDave at 12:41 AM on March 31, 2009


George lies, as usual, about being physicaly chalenged to make his job easyer.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:09 AM on March 31, 2009


My question is: By sitting in the seat, are you expected to be on the lookout for people with disabilities and to get up when you see them, or is the onus placed on said person with disability?

I have taken public transit in many cities, and the answer, universally, is that if I am sitting in one of those seats, I watch for people who might need it and stand, without being asked. In fact, even if I am sitting in a seat further back and I see someone who might have difficulty standing, I give up my seat to that person. Not because it's the law, but because I am able bodied and not an asshole.

... the Jerk in this case is not just taking up the middle seat, but a portion of the seating to his left and right. It's typical territorial alpha male bullshit.

It may be territorial, but there is nothing alpha about that bullshit. This is the positioning of a person who is afraid that someone might sit by him. I see it all he time - the crowded rush hour bus or train, everyone is standing, and then there's that one person sitting on the outside seat with a prim moue, who is too good to be riding on public transit and is damn sure too good to let someone sit next to him. Remember, public transit is for degenerates and poor people, and if one of us sits by him, he might catch The Poor.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:29 AM on March 31, 2009 [20 favorites]


I remember the time I was on crutches and without exception people went out of the way to help, open doors, give up seats etc... restored some of my faith in humanity tbh
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:53 AM on March 31, 2009


My dad used to carry around one of my mom's (legitimate) handicapped parking tags so he could park in the handicapped spot. Once a cop noticed that he obviously wasn't handicapped and questioned him about it, and he tried to affect the world's most hilariously fake limp. Yeah, he got a huge ticket for that.

On the flip side of that, though, my mom often got dirty looks from or even yelled at by do-gooders who apparently thought her handicap wasn't obvious enough. She got the tags after almost dying from a organ-degeneration-related disease and being in physical therapy for a year in order to even be able to walk, but I guess unless you're in a wheelchair you must be faking.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:16 AM on March 31, 2009


How can you tell whether they're handicapped or not? I suffer from chronic back pain and standing on buses is very uncomfortable for me due to the constant stopping and starting. Perhaps this chap shouldn't make assumptions when he doesn't know the facts of other people's lives. What the site is doing is exactly what happens to DecemberBoy's mum. Stand up and eat it crutch boy, you prejudiced fuck.
posted by biffa at 3:18 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, public transport manners. My favourites:

My testicles are soo sore: I'm going to sit with my legs as far apart as possible, regardless of who sits next to me.

Hey everyone, I'm deaf: actually, I'm not, but I soon will be thanks to that tinny music I insist on listening to through crap headphones.

I've just committed armed robbery: which is why I need to sit in the getaway spot on the aisle side of the two bus seats and you will have to squeeze past me if you want a seat.

Is the cellphone network down?: No worries, I'm actually shouting loud enough to be heard several miles away without the benefit of modern technology.

Maybe its Maybelline: Or maybe it's not. You'll get a good dusting anyway, dear neighbour, and you'll look great with some blusher.

I'm alright, Jack: Move down the carriage so other people can get on, you say? How about I don't, because large space next to me is quite inviting.

I'm as thin as a rake: And have no idea that the 50lb backpack I'm wearing may just take up some space.

And not to forget:

Am I fat, or am I pregnant?: Please don't give me your seat, I'll promise to diet/You selfish prick, can't you tell I'm struggling here.

Am I old or can I still cut it with the yoof Oh god, he thinks I look like someone's grandmother/In my day we always offered our seats to our elders.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:58 AM on March 31, 2009 [20 favorites]


Crutchguy definitely should be asking folks to get up. Those aren't disabled-and-elderly-only seats like handicapped parking is. Those sitting in the seats have no way of knowing whether Crutchy is getting off at the next stop, or just plain doesn't want to sit. Hell, I remember the time I was on crutches, getting up and down from a seat was a lot harder than usual, I might have chosen to remain standing!

So yeah, it makes an OK blog, but Lord Crutchingford the First should get off his high horse and put in some effort to ask for the seat. Some people are definitely outgoing enough to offer, but a lot of people have gotten burned by just trying to be nice to strangers and they aren't going to interrupt someone to offer a seat.

Also, I kind of didn't think the middle-seat-sitter was being malicious. He's just a fat guy who can't really sit in a seat without kind of spreading into the other seats. Legs spread slightly so that they're not rubbing against each other. Especially since there was the pole dividing 2 of the seats from the third, Baron Crutchersfield would have done just fine by going and sitting down.
posted by explosion at 4:03 AM on March 31, 2009


Just you wait until the day comes when you get on a bus, and some youngster jumps up to offer you their seat. Then we'll see who's laughing. It's one of those things that reminds me I'm no longer 20-something.

Where I run into trouble is on stairs. I often need to be on the left, so I can have the railing there (not as useful on the right). It takes folks some time to realize I'm using that railing, and need it, to get out of the way as I come down. Coping with my knee for the last 18 months has done wonders for my arms, though!
posted by Goofyy at 4:26 AM on March 31, 2009


In general, the handicap parking system in the US works pretty well. It's easy to imagine a society where people simply ignored handicap parking signs, where police didn't bother with the paperwork of giving out tickets, where corrupt doctors sold handicap tags on the black market, where there was no enforcement to make sure handicap spots are created. I wonder for instance if Russia or China has such a system and how well it works there. So yea there are some aholes out there but for the most part the system works because most people respect it and want it to work.
posted by stbalbach at 5:10 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


What was it that Sam Vimes said in one of pTerry's books? "Just because someone's a member of an ethnic minority doesn't mean they're not a nasty small-minded jerk"?

Goes for the disabled too...

louche mustachio: "Remember, public transit is for degenerates and poor people, and if one of us sits by him, he might catch The Poor."

Hey, I'm degenerate and poor! I sometimes act like that so I don't catch The Hillbilly. I never knew the "short-cropped hair with rat-tail" look was back in fashion, now teamed with dirty hi-vis shirt & a copy of "The Secret" with corners torn off to mark their spot, until I started getting the late train home.

On the other hand, I usually prefer to stand...
posted by Pinback at 5:15 AM on March 31, 2009


I hate it when the handicapped sit in our seats. And those crutches? He's obviously just using them as a crutch.
posted by Floydd at 5:20 AM on March 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


My wife is 34 weeks pregnant - there's no hiding the belly - yet when I ask her about the train ride to and from work, 90% of the time it's the same answer: "Oh, it was crowded, so I didn't get a seat until I was almost home."

Really? Jerks.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:57 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


We live in a Fl. gated golf & tennis community. Handicap cards
(attached to flip down sun visors) are almost as common as headlights.
One neighbor takes her grand daughter in her baby carriage for a half mile walk most days.
Another neighbor plays golf to a six handicap. When my wife chided them both she found out they only displayed and used the cards in emergencies. Heavy rain (daily occurrence here in summer) or no other spot available. Common this time of year.
posted by notreally at 6:02 AM on March 31, 2009


You can't do that because someone would take a picture of you and put you on Pole Leaning Douchebag."

Or you could end up on Seat Sitting Jackrags. Or Blog Writing Fuck-Mops. The possibilities are endless!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:06 AM on March 31, 2009


When my wife chided them both she found out they only displayed and used the cards in emergencies. Heavy rain (daily occurrence here in summer) or no other spot available.

Neitber of those things are in fact emergencies. The rain does not melt people, and anyone that can afford to live in a gated community and own/lease a car can avoid ten bucks to park somewhere else until 5.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:29 AM on March 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


Without retracting my earlier comment (that many disabilities are less visible than crutches, that the offended or shaming person may assume wrongly that the perceived scofflaw is not disabled), I'm coming back to say:

This FPP and subsequent discussion caused me for the first time to consider the odd slot into which I've slid: I have a moderately serious, life-altering chronic injury, but a casual observer can't see it. If you glance at me limping, you probably think I've got a blister or a twisted ankle, not a permanent injury.

So my disability and I get to sit inside the able-ist privileged worldview and look out, wondering how to fit myself into the world.

I had never consciously thought about this. In all sincerity: thanks, desjardins.
posted by Elsa at 6:30 AM on March 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


When I lived in LA and rode public transportation, I endlessly found myself seated next to young men who spread their legs wide and locked them in that position, taking up most of the leg space and giving me very little room to sit without my own legs spilling out into the aisles. I know it was a little passive aggressive of me, but I tool real pleasure in sitting next to them and pressing my knee up against theirs, gently but constantly, while reading or looking otherwise distracted. And, when the bus would jostle, I'd let it jostle me into them, shoving my knee against theirs. Over the course of a 20 minute bus ride, the amount of space they took would just keep shrinking from the constant pressure of my leg, which I know was a struggle for them, as they both wanted to dominate the space but did not want MY KNEE TOUCHING THEIRS ANYMORE.

Sorry, dude. Your fear of being touched by strangers, probably coupled with a little homosexual panic, is always going to trump your desire to consume as much space as possible. I'd rather not touch you, either, but if you're going to be a dick about it, I will make you small.

What was the topic again? The disabled? Yeah, give up your fucking seats for them, you assholes.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:47 AM on March 31, 2009 [18 favorites]


If you'd like to learn more about what daily life is like for disabled people, may I recommend the BBC's most excellent Ouch! podcast? Also available on iTunes.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 6:47 AM on March 31, 2009


my advice to the handicapped driver; get even. park in one of their spaces.
posted by kitchenrat at 6:50 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


So yeah, it makes an OK blog, but Lord Crutchingford the First should get off his high horse and put in some effort to ask for the seat.

Yeah. What's wrong with asking? It seems he's itching for a fight anyway so if he gets any pushback when he asks, he'll be ready to argue and will probably win. Nobody wants a crutch to the shin repeatedly. But no, instead, he's chosen to just stand there and passive-aggressive the hell out of that jerkface.

On the other hand, one of the weirdest experiences I've had on the Boston subway was when I was riding the Red Line to work. I boarded a reasonably empty train and sat down in the first seat I saw. Turned out it was a Priority seat. At the very next stop this lady waiting to board started barking "HEY! HEY! HEY!" at me even before the doors were fully open. She then rushed in and launched into an argument that SHE was DISABLED and THAT SIGN says that THIS SEAT is FOR THE DISABLED so I better GIVE IT TO HER NOW.

I looked over at the available seats on the other side of the car, the nearly empty row I was sitting in, shrugged, and gave her the seat. Wasn't about to argue at 6:45 in the morning.
posted by Spatch at 6:51 AM on March 31, 2009


I recently hurt both of my feet in a freak stupidity accident. The result was that I could barely walk. I sat in the disability seats. I did not have crutches. I had a moment of fear that I would appear in Mr. Crutches' blog because, until I stood up and moved very slowly to the doors, I appeared not to deserve the seat.

In the subway here in NY the men who sit with their legs spread often do not decrease the crotch angle when you sit next to them. I think it is because they have enormous genitalia. Frequently people put their bags on the seat next to them in a crowded train and will be quite unpleasant even if asked nicely if you can sit. The pole leaning douchebags are ever present. People will crowd the door keeping people from accessing the center of the car. I've been prevented from getting off a train due to people trying to get on. In NY you're allowed to shove them, in Philly, you might get the crap beaten out of you.

I tend to read on longer subway rides and I have looked up from my book to realize that there is someone with a cane, crutches, or another visible reason to need to sit, standing there. I don't sit in the priority seating, but I'll get up and give them my seat. It is easily possible that they've been standing there in front of me for a few stops without my realizing it.

The one thing I did find last year when I was doing a 3.5 hour commute to work was that asking people nicely to be quieter with the cell phone conversation actually works, especially if you smile apologetically when you ask. I think I asked around ten different people - I only asked people who were visibly annoying everyone on the train car - and every single one of them decreased their volume. It may have helped that I'm female and not aggressive appearing. The first few times I tried this, I was apprehensive, I figured I'd have to listen to the cellmegaphone complaining loudly about the bitch who said to be quiet.
posted by sciencegeek at 7:06 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, the able-bodied should give up their seats to those less able? That sounds like the slippery slope to communism. Next you'll all be dressed in hessian smocks, and working in a state-owned scrap-metal processing facility.

But yes, much as I despise this sort of self-centred absence of empathy (seemingly more prevalent now in this age of every-man-for-themselves individualism), I'd rather see these people confronted and shamed in a sustained manner in front of a captive travelling audience than than this seemingly empty online gesture. On the other hand, speaking as a 130lb milquetoast with no taste for violence, I suppose this is slightly less likely to get you a beat-down.
posted by bokeh at 7:08 AM on March 31, 2009


I know it was a little passive aggressive of me, but I tool real pleasure in sitting next to them and pressing my knee up against theirs, gently but constantly, while reading or looking otherwise distracted.

It's worth pointing that this tactic is a little more socially complicated for women, disabled or not.

I'm not talking about dominance or assertiveness, but about the simple implications of flesh-on-flesh contact. When someone seated next to me starts spreading out and pressing against me, if a glance or an "excuse me" doesn't snap him back into his allotted space, sure, sometimes it's easier to silently press back rather than speaking.

But the silent battle of knee-to-knee contact is sometimes taken for a come-on rather than a territorial move, calling for some finely-judged body language to counter that impression and make him retreat rather than (ahem) advance.

Happily, now that I'm a gray-haired lady, the young men (and for whatever reason, on my commute, it does seem to be young men assuming the wide-legged stance on the bus or the subway) usually respond to a crisp "Excuse me" by pulling in their knees. Often, they even apologize vaguely. The pleasures of age!
posted by Elsa at 7:12 AM on March 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


My wife is 34 weeks pregnant - there's no hiding the belly - yet when I ask her about the train ride to and from work, 90% of the time it's the same answer: "Oh, it was crowded, so I didn't get a seat until I was almost home."

Really? Jerks.


Hate to be like a broken record, but, did she ask for a seat? People aren't mind readers, it's a busy system, and most folks go into brain-dead mode after 8 hours at work. They're probably just trying to tune out the noise and claustrophobia. Add to that the fact that a lot of pregnant women, elderly, and handicapped folks are acutely aware and defensive of being condescended to, and it's tough sometimes to want to offer your seat.

Now, granted, I almost always get up for people (and often prefer to stand in the first place), but sometimes you're as likely to get an offended reaction as a "why thank you that would be lovely."

On the other hand, if she merely asked, she'd probably jar someone out of their reverie and they'd hop to their feet, tripping over themselves to let her sit down.

That, and at least a couple of times I've gotten up for an elderly person and had some other lazy slob sit down in my spot before the elderly person even got the chance. Makes you lose faith in humanity a little.
posted by explosion at 7:13 AM on March 31, 2009


It's worth pointing that this tactic is a little more socially complicated for women, disabled or not.

Yeah. Not recommended for women. And doesn't work as well with people who crave human contact. You just end up rubbing knees for a while.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:17 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah. Not recommended for women.

Oh, don't misunderstand: I do it! And it works. I'm just saying it's more a more loaded, complicated tactic for women.
posted by Elsa at 7:21 AM on March 31, 2009


You know, if one drops the only handicapped occupant in the car off at the door, then why would one park in a handicapped spot? At this point you have a car with a single able bodied person in it. This seems no different to me than dropping the kids or wife or ?? off at the door, and people that do that don't get special parking consideration. I am sensitive to disabilities, my dad has bad knee problems, he is scheduled to get two total knee replacements. If he is driving alone he needs that handicapped spot worse than an able bodied helper. If the able bodied helper has to transport disability related equipment to and from the car, I can see that being a good reason to need to park closer. If there is something I haven't considered be gentle, I'm just trying to figure out what the reasoning is here.
posted by jester69 at 7:25 AM on March 31, 2009 [4 favorites]


On-not-preview, I don't like people who abuse handicapped spots/seating at all. However, I'm not too big on public scolds, either. This probably comes from having the shit embarrassed out of me as a kid by my mother who is a very public scold. How often does it work? That note you left on the windshield -- do you think that person is going to try harder to not take up three parking spaces with his SuperUltraHeavyEtxraDuty F-750 Duallie 4-door full-extenda-bed pickup next time? My first impression is "No."
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:29 AM on March 31, 2009


And if you sit down he will close his legs and move to the side.

I had one guy fucking open his legs wider. And when I moved my leg he took that as an invitation that his knee should take that space up too. I don't know what the fuck was going on but this guy's flexibility level was that of a spry, fat ballerina.
posted by spec80 at 7:30 AM on March 31, 2009


I am also constantly amazed by the the size of vehicles in the last few years. As the SUV craze hit the U.S., I saw mid-sized sedans replaced with trucks and full sized SUVs in these handicapped spots. It made me wonder just what these people had as handicaps yet could even consider climbing in and out of those vehicles.

posted by Muddler at 1:38 AM on March 31 [1 favorite +] [!]


I knew a guy with CF or some disease of the sort who was confined to an electric wheelchair. He drove a Honda Element. From what I've heard the Element in particular is a popular vehicle for the chronically handicapped.

Knowing a few other people with leg and hip injuries, it was a lot easier for them to just slide into the seat of a truck than it was to have to lower themselves into a car.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 7:36 AM on March 31, 2009


Some people are definitely outgoing enough to offer, but a lot of people have gotten burned by just trying to be nice to strangers and they aren't going to interrupt someone to offer a seat.


I learned a long time ago to just get up and move to the back of the bus when I see I see an elderly/handicapped/pregnant person who might need a seat. I never verbally offer a seat. In fact, I pretty much try never to sit anywhere near the front of the bus to begin with so I don't have to worry about it. Sad but true. Living in Chicago has made me this way.
posted by Jess the Mess at 7:59 AM on March 31, 2009


I ride the subway all the damn time and if someone is sitting in the middle seat and you are too much of a wimp to just sit next to him you don't deserve to sit.

You appear to underestimate the prevalence of borderline sociopathic/psychopathic people who ride public transit. I like to exist in a non-injured state and prefer not to test the odds of a violent response if I engage in the same kind of passive-aggressive BS behavior that the stranger who is occupying two seats is engaging in. If that makes me a wimp who doesn't "deserve" to sit, well, so be it.
posted by blucevalo at 8:15 AM on March 31, 2009


I've got the opposite problem from people who are disabled but don't look it. I am not disabled, but I appear to be, because I've got scoliosis and several of my cervical vertebrae are fused. (Also, the hearing aids don't help.) So I have the bizarro experience of elderly men giving me their seat when I'm perfectly content to stand. Then it becomes this awkward "no really, it's OK" conversation.
posted by desjardins at 8:21 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


After seeing a number of fat people somehow finagle "handicap" stickers for their cars

Ugh. Ugh! Fuck you and people who look at heavy set people and become complete douchenozzles.

My mom used to be a size 10 diabetic. Then she got Osteomyelitis through a hairline fracture in her toe, managed to contract her first of her three cases of MRSA at the hospital, and developed an inoperable blood clot in the superior vena cava during the combined treatmeant. Now fifteen years later she is a size 26 and waddles because of missing bones in her feet and assholes constantly stop to berate her in disabled parking and while she is on scooters, telling her that being fat isn't a handicap.

Newsflash. You don't know why someone is heavy. Keep your fucking mouth shut.
posted by FunkyHelix at 8:24 AM on March 31, 2009 [35 favorites]


Sorry, dude. Your fear of being touched by strangers, probably coupled with a little homosexual panic, is always going to trump your desire to consume as much space as possible.

Like Elsa, I do it, but it is more complicated for women, as DUDE has no problem with my leg pressing against his.

Last week on a crowded bus, a young woman was taking up an additional empty seat with her bag. I asked politely, "is this your stuff?" She stared me down. "Yeah." I continued on, lightly, "could I please sit?" She responded "CAN YOU SAY EXCUSE ME?!" and then proceeded to loudly grouse to her friend about how I hadn't said excuse me. Oh for the love of all that is good and holy you would've come up with something to bitch about anyway it's eight-fucking-thirty in the morning give me break I'm too tired to fight and will now roll my eyes at you for ten blocks.

I hate that shit. Makes me stabby. Move your shit when the bus fills up. It's not your personal vehicle.

Oh, and don't make pregnant or disabled people or elderly people explicitly ask you to move from priority seating. What the hell.
posted by desuetude at 8:32 AM on March 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


You must have missed the part where I said: We're not talking people with genuine medical conditions; we're talking lazy lard-assed couch potatoes gaming the system for a premium parking space.

I'm talking about people I know first-hand who could beat Usain Bolt to a buffet table suddenly feigning health problems when they can use it to their advantage (and one actually gloating about it). They're taking up a spot that someone with a genuine impairment could be using. Am I pretending that this is the rule -- not the exception? Of course not. I merely pointed out that I have seen a enough to make me a wee bit cynical.
posted by RavinDave at 8:34 AM on March 31, 2009


People who have superlong domain names.
posted by Xere at 8:38 AM on March 31, 2009


You must have missed the part where I said:

Actually, I think people missed the part where you said that your judgment was based on some actual informed personal experience and not on the range of pissy assumptions that are the accepted currency on these control-freak sites.
posted by troybob at 8:39 AM on March 31, 2009


To keep people from sitting close to him, the Jerk blocks the other seats from access by stretching out and/or putting items on the other seats. This puts the Stander on notice that the Jerk owns those seats.

Back in my public transpo days, I occasionally made it a point to get comfy right next to that asshole, esp. when here were no other seats. That's about as scoldy/passive-aggressive as I ever got.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:40 AM on March 31, 2009


...if one drops the only handicapped occupant in the car off at the door, then why would one park in a handicapped spot?

Having transported handicapped people in my day, I'd say that the primary reason would be that your time to and from the car is spent not attending to someone who might need attending to and who maybe is uncomfortable being plopped down in a corner or on a sidewalk on display for ogling passersby while you load up the groceries and make your way through the lot.

Or maybe not. But I can say that it costs me pretty much nothing to resist ascribing nefarious or lazy motives to people I know nothing about based on their appearance and in the context of frustration at the universe's lack of consideration for my personal comfort.
posted by troybob at 8:55 AM on March 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


My personal tactic when someone is taking up lots of space is a cheery "hello!" as I proceed to sit down. On the rare occasions they don't move their leg/bag/whatever I then affect a rather surprised "oh", making it quite clear that taking up more than one seat, and guarding that space is not a situation that is somehow normal or regular.

I haven't had any problems yet, but when I do I'll politely ask them if they've bought two tickets.

It's slightly dickish, but a fraction of how dickish you have to be to ride public transport and expect to take multiple seats as your right.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:00 AM on March 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


You must have missed the part where I said: We're not talking people with genuine medical conditions; we're talking lazy lard-assed couch potatoes gaming the system for a premium parking space.

How can you tell the difference? Seriously, do you just go up and ask, "Hi! I know someone gave you a handicapped parking placard, but I'm just not sure it's justified - are you fat because of a genuine medical disability, or are you fat beccause you're a lazy, lard-assed couch potato?" The whole point of the placard is to indicate that someone else has already assessed the situation and found handicapped parking is justified.

I can't imagine walking up to someone and saying, "Yeah, the government thinks you're handicapped, but I don't - go park somewhere else" or "You don't look handicapped enough, so I'm not moving from my seat."

What bothers me about the discussion in general is the perception that, somehow, someone's stealing something from "normal folks." Physically disabled folks get damn little these days - it took quite a few laws just to get what little they do get, because common decency and courtesy went out of style - and the idea that someone is somehow getting a "premium" or "gaming the system" shouldn't be bothering folks able to walk to the damn door. Instead, it should be bothering folks who are legitimately physically disabled; the folks that actually need the spaces, ramps, and support being "stolen" by fraudulent, lazy, able-bodied people. That's what these web sites are talking about - these are handicapped people taking pictures of able-bodied people stealing from them. Not the other way around.

If one asshat obtaining a fraudulent handicapped parking placard is the price I have to pay to see a dozen or more handicapped people to feel less disabled and more in control, I'm fine with that.
posted by FormlessOne at 9:21 AM on March 31, 2009 [10 favorites]


Yeah, as the friend of someone not visibly disabled (wrists! Which means no standing on the subway since she can't hold on, and no pushing or pulling on doors), I have to say I tend towards giving people the benefit of the doubt. You can't always look at someone and know what's really going on, and how much more of an asshole are you if you yell at someone and you're wrong?

Which is not to say there aren't genuine abuses taking place (I, too, loathe the men who are playing "my cock is so big I have to keep my knees two feet apart" on the subway). But as a card-carrying member of the Don't Make a Scene Society, I just do my best to offer my seat to people who need it, and let the rest of it go.
posted by marginaliana at 9:39 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've said it before, but... I can't get too worked up over any possible dickishness by these folks. We can't legislate good manners, and these sites make me feel good inside.

nanojath: My favorites were the ones who pulled the big grumpy put out face like they'd just love to say something except for that minor detail of their being totally in the wrong.
Some of these people might say something anyway...

desuetude: She responded "CAN YOU SAY EXCUSE ME?!" and then proceeded to loudly grouse to her friend about how I hadn't said excuse me...
I love it. Someone who was rude, responding to your rudeness with even more rudeness. Makes perfect sense.

I hate that shit. Makes me stabby.
Is it wrong that this makes me happy?
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:39 AM on March 31, 2009


FormlessOne, not that I disagree with your points generally, but a study in London in 2007 found that half of all disabled badge holders were fraudulent.

Half. I don't know how the stats play out in the US, but here in the UK people certainly are stealing something from "normal" folks.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:39 AM on March 31, 2009




Neitber of those things are in fact emergencies. The rain does not melt people
My Dad doesn't go out in rain because it makes things slippery and he has touble with balance.

I am also constantly amazed by the the size of vehicles in the last few years. As the SUV craze hit the U.S., I saw mid-sized sedans replaced with trucks and full sized SUVs in these handicapped spots. It made me wonder just what these people had as handicaps yet could even consider climbing in and out of those vehicles.

My Dad doesn't look disabled and has a placard but no vehicle because he can't afford it. Because he can only walk short distances he's recieved several lectures from the rightous (in Canada no less). He's over weight to boot which of course brings out the worst in these holier than thou yahoos.

He prefers to borrow my truck (1 ton dually stake body) because:
  1. The seat height and because it's a bench means he can just sort of slide in.
  2. It's easy for him to put his walker in and out of in case he over does it with the walking.
  3. The sitting position is more chair like rather than the leg stretched out position of cars which puts strain on his knee.
  4. Despite power steering the steering wheel is like something off a bus. This means that large movements are required to affect direction which dampens involuentary inputs (IE: tremors).
  5. He just likes my truck :).
Now if I had a 1/2 ton pickup that would be good too but I don't and I need the hauling capacity of the dually.
posted by Mitheral at 9:49 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's what these web sites are talking about - these are handicapped people taking pictures of able-bodied people stealing from them.

Maybe in some cases (though it's interesting that handicapped people would be just as prone to make assumptions based on appearance), but on looking around I get the impression that these are people facing declining options to cluck at pregnant teenagers or stage whisper over someone in the grocery line using food stamps. I see it more as Harper Valley PTA 2.0.
posted by troybob at 9:49 AM on March 31, 2009


My boss is in one of the pictures in the first link!
posted by Evangeline at 9:53 AM on March 31, 2009


When I regularly rode the subway with crutches (broken leg, healed now), I started to keep stats on what kind of person got up to give me a seat. The average seat-giver-upper was a white female who appeared to be older than 30 (and often appeared to be much older than that). The number one indicator that someone would not give up a seat, tabulated over the three week sample period at exactly zero percent, was wearing a tie.
posted by tractorfeed at 9:56 AM on March 31, 2009 [17 favorites]


But I can say that it costs me pretty much nothing to resist ascribing nefarious or lazy motives to people I know nothing about based on their appearance and in the context of frustration at the universe's lack of consideration for my personal comfort.

troybob: Boy that was a wonderful thing for you to respond with. Out of concern for people I know that are disabled, I asked a question regarding able bodied people using disabled spaces, and I even said it was just a question don't snap at me. My personal comfort had nothing to do with it, I was talking about my 85 year old father with two bad knees having to walk across an entire parking lot because an able bodied person dropped off a handicapped person then parked in a handicapped spot. I am sure this rarely if ever happens, but I was curious how those able bodied people that dropped others off felt about this possibility. Did they feel they had a genuine need for the handicapped space? I am not saying they don't, I am just asking how they look at it out of genuine curiosity and concern for others.

It seems like you didn't read any of my post before jumping down my throat. Since I know my intentions don't come anywhere near your accusations, I can hold my head high. How do you feel about your post?
posted by jester69 at 9:57 AM on March 31, 2009


kitchenrat wrote: my advice to the handicapped driver; get even. park in one of their spaces.

OH HA HA THAT IS HILARIOUS!

Wait, it isn't. Because handicapped parking spaces are located in (or should be located in--Peter Tan's blog was kind of eye-opening here) parts of the parking area that are accessible to, say, wheelchairs or people on crutches, whereas the other parking spaces may not be.

And handicapped parking spaces are (or should be!) wider, so that people who need more room to maneuver their mobility aids aren't crashing into the side of someone else's Grand Cherokee.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:57 AM on March 31, 2009


You must have missed the part where I said: We're not talking people with genuine medical conditions; we're talking lazy lard-assed couch potatoes gaming the system for a premium parking space.

Or they are reacting to your developing cynicism courtesy of a couple of assholes.
posted by Mitheral at 10:00 AM on March 31, 2009


jester: The first paragraph of my statement was an honest, well-intentioned offering of a different perspective to answer your question. The second was a more general comment on the sites that are being discussed here. I made the transition poorly, but really, it never occurred to me that the second half of my comment would even be construed as a response to your comment in particular, because your comment was reasonable and fair and respectful, and that's not the kind of thing I was addressing. I apologize that my comment was badly formed, but it certainly wasn't intended as any disrespect or criticism for your comment, which is itself not inconsistent with my own views and peeves amateurishly expressed here.
posted by troybob at 10:12 AM on March 31, 2009


Man Gets DUI On Motorized Barstool
posted by ornate insect at 10:15 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, jester, that's something I do in person as well; I make logical and topical transitions in my head that I don't communicate well to others.
posted by troybob at 10:16 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


(returning to topic) Also, I would say that because a driver drops off another handicapped person does not mean the driver is necessarily able-bodied. He or she might be more able-bodied than the jettisoned passenger, but might have any number of other handicaps not visible to those not holding his or her medical record.
posted by troybob at 10:26 AM on March 31, 2009


It isn't about revenge, though we readily admit to a certain satisfaction at the thought that offenders may be taught a lesson.

Translation: It's about revenge.

Specifically, passive-aggressive revenge.
posted by mattdidthat at 10:52 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


One (all?) of the Seattle Public Libraries has a spot in its crowded parking lot that's just for hybrid cars. The idea, I guess, is that hybrid drivers deserve to be rewarded with parking spots.

This kind of thinking leads people to think of spots for disabled people as being a courtesy extended to the poor cripples, rather than the necessity that it can be. And if you think of it as just something nice we do for the poor dears, then why -- if you were in a hurry or tired or it was raining -- wouldn't you take one of their spots?
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:53 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised no one posted this yet!
posted by bitteroldman at 11:15 AM on March 31, 2009


troybob: thanks for explaining your thinking process, now that I know it was a new thought, I feel somewhat chagrined. I am pretty easygoing and almost never get angry, so no worries, glad to make your acquaintance, etc.

As to the return to topic, I completely agree one should never judge a book by its cover, and wouldn't think to try to assess someones disability by sight. There is no doubt a more able person that is still disabled has every right to priority parking.

My question came from reading something where an able bodied person specifically said they dropped off a disabled person then used priority parking, and it made me wonder how common that is, etc.
posted by jester69 at 11:16 AM on March 31, 2009


Why doesn't this guy just wail on these folks with his crutches and sit down already? Effin crybaby.
posted by PuppyCat at 11:21 AM on March 31, 2009


Which is not to say there aren't genuine abuses taking place (I, too, loathe the men who are playing "my cock is so big I have to keep my knees two feet apart" on the subway).
posted by marginaliana at 12:39 PM on March 31 [+] [!]


It's not always abuse of the system. Some of us are genuinely afflicted.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 11:30 AM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


jester: Whew...it was going to be a crummy rest of the day had I thought my carelessness were to persist in making you feel slighted like that.

My angle on the subject I think comes more from being around people, in my family and at work, who have to deal with issues of chronic pain, something that is poorly understood even by people closest to those who have it. There are many people who are going to spend the rest of their lives dealing with pain and who will manage it by chronic use of medications (and combinations of such) of variable effectiveness, by accepting that they will always have to deal with it, and also (what I think is of some relevance here) by carefully managing activity such that it does not become worse. If you know you can walk 25 feet and not activate your pain but that when you walk 50 feet you do, you've got to respect those limits--particularly because in this sense 'activate' often does not mean merely that you are going to experience some momentary discomfort, but you are going to set off a pain cycle that might have you up all night in agony. When I've tried to imagine myself in the situation, I don't know that I could handle the soul-crushing repetition of that--added to the suspicions of friends, families, and co-workers who sometimes have hard time believing something they can't see; and that can't be helped by the prospect of anonymous watchers posting your information online because you don't look handicapped to them.
posted by troybob at 11:54 AM on March 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


I love it. Someone who was rude, responding to your rudeness with even more rudeness. Makes perfect sense.

ObscureReferenceMan, I really really wasn't rude to her. I did not literally say the actual words "excuse" and "me" in succession, but I was positively deferential, said please, etc. If I had said "excuse me, could you possibly move your items so that I might sit in that seat, please?" she undoubtedly would've invented some other missing magic words.

I hate that shit. Makes me stabby.
Is it wrong that this makes me happy?


Heh. Depends on why it makes you happy.
posted by desuetude at 12:03 PM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


This thread is a litmus test.

No, really, it's interesting how polarized people get in response to this thread's content.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:11 PM on March 31, 2009


I spent a few weeks on crutches with a dislocated knee, and riding the T in Boston was a nightmare. The vast majority of the time, the people who would offer me a seat? Little old ladies, and the occasional pregnant woman. The ones who hid behind their newspapers? Youngish guys in suits. Hell, most of the time the guys in suits would actually shove me aside to get to a seat.

Now, a few years later, I'm still riding the T, only now it's with a bad back that makes standing on the train incredibly painful. I sit when I can, and while I will try to offer my seat to someone who is elderly, or pregnant, or on crutches, sometimes I just can't. I don't look disabled, so I know I've gotten dirty looks for not standing, but what am I supposed to do, wear a sign around my neck?

(And the uber-virtuous about people giving up their seats can be assholes, too -- one morning on the train, I had dozed off, when some woman whapped me on the head and bellowed "Stand up!!" I jumped up, all sorts of confused and freaked out, and she starts berating me -- "That man is BLIND! You stand up and let him sit down!!" The guy in question was pretty humiliated, I was half-asleep and had no clue what was going on...)
posted by sarcasticah at 12:16 PM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've been an LA commuter for several months now and I'd love a strategy for sitting next to Mr. Make Way for My Genitals that doesn't involve being an unwilling frottage partner.

"Excuse me" has so far been sadly inadequate.

Also: Good lord. This is why we can't have nice things. Can't people just behave?

/mom
posted by Space Kitty at 1:06 PM on March 31, 2009


I'll admit there's one thing I don't understand: people who have handicapped plates because they have trouble walking who GO TO THE MALL. What, pray tell, is the difference between walking from your parking spot to the door and walking around the mall? I have a relative who does this and it bugs me to no end.

On the other hand, I have never been anywhere that all of the handicapped parking spaces have been occupied. Well, except for hospital parking lots. Generally they are 90% vacant anywhere I go, so able-bodied people have to park further away. I'm not sure how they determine the predicted demand for spots, but they are very bad at it.
posted by desjardins at 1:11 PM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm totally with you sarcasticah.

As someone with a mobility issue that's not immediately apparent, I'm shocked how often other disabled people use appearance to judge on a crowded bus. Because I was 29 at the time and looked healthy en disability. I was once rudely accosted by an older woman who was upset that I was sitting in one of the reserved seats on a crowded bus. I'm mobility impaired, but looked healthy enough because I was sitting. She shrilly demanded "Are YOU disabled?" I looked at her and said "Yes, I am." She continued by demanding to know how since, according to her, I didn't look disabled. I informed her calmly that I suffer from massive neurological damage in the lower half of my body making it difficult to stand for long periods of time (as well as walk and climb stairs). I then apologize for not wearing my disabled sign, which would have prevented me having to share my medical history on a crowded bus. She didn't apologize and watched me carefully as I got off the bus to "check" that I wasn't faking. I was shocked and upset that a fellow disabled person is just as likely to use appearance as an able bodied person. But hey able bodied or not, some people are twits. I don't have the time to document them all with a camera.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:15 PM on March 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


Dear lord half my comment got kerfuffled because the internet is bein' hinky on my end. Apologies for the confusion.
posted by miss-lapin at 1:19 PM on March 31, 2009


I'll admit there's one thing I don't understand: people who have handicapped plates because they have trouble walking who GO TO THE MALL.

I think they want to buy things. At stores.

To which they may be going using crutches, or a cane, or a walker, or a wheelchair.

Even if they're not using a mobility aid, it makes really good sense from a traffic-planning and safety perspective not to have mobility-impaired people shlepping across the mall parking lot where people are trying to drive and park.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:19 PM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really really wasn't rude to her. I did not literally say the actual words "excuse" and "me" in succession, but I was positively deferential, said please, etc. If I had said "excuse me, could you possibly move your items so that I might sit in that seat, please?" she undoubtedly would've invented some other missing magic words.
Sorry. I forgot to put quotes around the word "rudeness". I don't think your response was rude at all. But obviously, she did.

I hate that shit. Makes me stabby.
Is it wrong that this makes me happy?
Heh. Depends on why it makes you happy.
Again, I fail at communicating. I meant that I just felt the phrase "makes me stabby" tickled my funny bone. (I don't know if it means "I want to stab someone", or "I get this stabbing pain of annoyance", or what. It's just funny.)
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 1:19 PM on March 31, 2009


When exactly has a broken leg been elevated to the status of a disability?
posted by oxidizer at 1:40 PM on March 31, 2009


Truth is, some folks have big balls. If you put your knees together, they get squished. So let's not judge the big-balled, please.



Or so I hear
posted by grubi at 1:45 PM on March 31, 2009


Komo4 in Seattle just did a bit about how they've busted medical personnel using the handicap placard of their dead relatives, to get free parking.

oxidizer, just because an issue is temporary doesn't make any less disabling. eg, the blogger will always be a jerk, even after he's healed up.
posted by nomisxid at 1:48 PM on March 31, 2009


Rode the L with my uncle when I was a kid. This pregnant woman came on trailing another kid (girl about my age at the time) and holding some groceries and she must have passed five able bodied men (yeah, suits) before she got near us. My uncle popped tall and shouted in his command voice - ostensibly to me, but mostly to the rest of the car - "ON! YOUR! FEET! It's despicable for a healthy man to sit while a woman stands." And we gave her and her kid our seats. I don't get the big deal about sitting if you're in any kind of shape. It's not like the ride is going to last hours. But I haven't taken a lot of public transportation. Still, that's what fitness and being active is for - acting when you can act.
It's a blessing to be healthy, be in shape, and be strong. If you can't use it to perform as simple a gesture as standing while someone else who isn't so blessed sits, then what the hell good is it?
And I stand up because it's what I would want someone to do for me if standing caused me pain. When I'm old, or if I'm injured, I don't want to have to confront some younger stronger guy just to ease my own pain. And I shouldn't have to. So, neither should anyone else.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:48 PM on March 31, 2009 [3 favorites]


"When exactly has a broken leg been elevated to the status of a disability?"

Want me to show you?
posted by Smedleyman at 1:50 PM on March 31, 2009 [9 favorites]


I'll admit there's one thing I don't understand: people who have handicapped plates because they have trouble walking who GO TO THE MALL. What, pray tell, is the difference between walking from your parking spot to the door and walking around the mall? posted by Mitheral at 1:50 PM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


I do it! And it works. I'm just saying it's more a more loaded, complicated tactic for women.

I do it too, as often as I can. If they seem to think that it's a come-on, one look at me makes them think maybe I have a touch of the crazy and rubbing knees with me might not be such a good idea after all.

Most of the time, I assume people need the spaces they have. But, since I'm an asker not a guesser, if I need the space that they have, I'll ask for it. My sister had a disabled pass for the subway for a while because she's epileptic (couldn't drive, at the time) and occasionally got shit for it because it wasn't a visible disability.

I'd rather assume that someone's on the level and has some reason that I don't know, instead of assuming they're trying to get away with something. You're probably wrong the same amount of time, honestly, but I like my wrong vision of humanity better.
posted by jessamyn at 2:21 PM on March 31, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh, and, merciful Ra, don't even get me started on escalators. Think of it like a road. In Australia, stick left unless you are overtaking. But nooooo. "I'm a massive jerkface and I'm gonna install my enormous frame here on the right so no bastard can get past me." And heaven forbid you say anything to them. Tapped a guy on the shoulder one morning at Parliament Station in Melbourne : "Excuse me mate, this is the fast lane." Twat moved a quarter inch to the left and gave me the filthiest look. So I barged past him with as much elbow as possible. Later that same day I was sitting at a table over from Paul Keating in a restaurant. He wasn't PM any more at the time, of course, but still, I shoulda said something.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:26 PM on March 31, 2009


"When exactly has a broken leg been elevated to the status of a disability?"
Seriously, I got some deference when I came home and my leg was messed up. Although I was in uniform at the time and the U.S. has been uber patriotic lately. But it did hurt. Beyond the empathy - public accommodation needs to be made if only because you don't want someone with even a temporary disability (like a broken leg, yeah) impeding traffic flow and movement, all that. I'd think especially so. If someone's new to crutches they can move pretty chaotically. No one wants an elbow in the chops or a crutch end in their groin because someone doesn't know how to use them well. So there are practical reasons for that accommodation.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:28 PM on March 31, 2009


In Australia, stick left unless you are overtaking.

In case you come to the US, do. not. do. this. Stay to your right or someone will knock you over.
posted by desjardins at 2:28 PM on March 31, 2009


ObscureReferenceMan: Thanks for the clarification regarding the missing airquotes.

FYI, stabby means all that and more. Feel free to co-opt and tickle other people with it as you wish.
posted by desuetude at 2:34 PM on March 31, 2009


So, what's the verdict on whether speaking up on behalf of an elderly or visibly disabled person, when there are no free seats? I don't think this has to be directed at anyone in particular, a simple "could someone please stand to allow this gentlemen to sit?" suffices, but oughtn't we ask the person in question their permission, first? As romantic as these authoritative dads or reprimanding mannerly grandmas are who whip slovenly sitters into shape, I don't feel okay speaking for someone, especially an elder.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:17 PM on March 31, 2009


I witnessed an interesting (and awkward) moment on the L a few months ago. A guy was sitting in the weird single sideways seat at the back of the car (which is not a priority seat). His feet were spread out pretty far into the aisle. A woman got on and moved to the back of the car so that she was standing where his feet were. Next thing I know I hear this argument coming from them.

Man: "Would you stop stepping on my goddamn feet?"
Woman: "Well could you pull them in a little? I'm trying not to."
Man (raising his voice): "You know what my New Years resolution was this year? To not go to the hospital again! I went three times last year and not again! I have deep vein thrombosis in my legs. Do you know what that means? Of course you don't. I get blood clots in my legs that could kill me."
Woman (also loudly): "Oh. Oh! Well you could have said that nicer!"
Man: "Yeah well"
Woman: "I'm sorry, ok?"
Man: "Yeah well me too."

It was really strange. Even though they both said they were sorry it wasn't in a truly contrite way and I think both of them were pretty worked up over the confrontation. The way the guy said "me too" it wasn't clear if he was sorry about the confrontation or just being sarcastic. I felt pretty bad for both of them and for the rest of the ride kept thinking about how that interaction could have been less contentious.
posted by misskaz at 3:23 PM on March 31, 2009


So, what's the verdict on whether speaking up on behalf of an elderly or visibly disabled person, when there are no free seats? I don't think this has to be directed at anyone in particular, a simple "could someone please stand to allow this gentlemen to sit?" suffices, but oughtn't we ask the person in question their permission, first? As romantic as these authoritative dads or reprimanding mannerly grandmas are who whip slovenly sitters into shape, I don't feel okay speaking for someone, especially an elder.

Yes. Just as not everyone who needs these seats is visibly disabled, not everyone who is visibly disabled needs (or wants) one of these seats.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 3:30 PM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


In case you come to the US, do. not. do. this. Stay to your right or someone will knock you over.

Yeah, and I'd be all "Cor, what's the hurry, mate? Dingo take your baby?"

But yeah I figured the rules would be the same for the escalators as they are for the roads in the States.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:59 PM on March 31, 2009


i.e. wrong :P
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:59 PM on March 31, 2009


posted by Ambrosia Voyeur So, what's the verdict on whether speaking up on behalf of an elderly or visibly disabled person, when there are no free seats?

I keep an eye on the people entering, exiting, and moving through whatever public transit vehicle I happen to be riding. When I see a disabled, injured, elderly, or pregnant person headed in my direction, I make eye contact and stand up. This is common courtesy regardless of the seat in which you're sitting and in a world where everyone practices this, we won't need to speak up and ask that someone vacate his or her seat to someone who needs it.

In other words, the verdict is: If you see someone who needs a seat, stand up.
posted by mattdidthat at 4:05 PM on March 31, 2009


I felt pretty bad for both of them and for the rest of the ride kept thinking about how that interaction could have been less contentious.

Guy shoulda said, first time the lady collided with his foot: "Hey, sorry, I know I'm in the way but I've got deep vein thrombosis and need to stretch my legs out out, I don't wanna go to the hospital again!"

There are a lot of problems with getting a bunch of people together in a single space. The two times it's most likely to occur are in the morning, when it's cold and dark and people are tired and pissed-off and still foggy-brained, and in the evening, when it's cold and dark and people are tired and pissed-off and have a headache. You've been sitting down all day but naturally you have to barge past people to get on the train first because heaven forbid you don't get a seat for yourself and another for your bag. Sit in the aisle, so people have to squeeze past you. Install yourself right in the doorway and cling to the pole for grim death. Turn your iPod up real high so you don't hear your phone ringing and I have to jab you in the ribs and say "Answer your phone" and you answer your phone and the conversation goes like this:

"Yeah I'm on the train. On the train. Just got on the tr-...I'm on the TRAIN. I'M ON THE TRAIN. YEAH I'M ON THE TRAIN. I'LL BE HOME SOON. BE HOME SOON. ON THE TRAIN. JUST LEFT THE STATION. ABOUT FIFTEEN MINUTES. ON THE TRAIN. YEAH WORK WAS OKAY. I'M GOING TO SEE YOU IN FIFTEEN MINUTES ANYWAY BUT I'LL TELL YOU ALL ABOUT THE DAY I HAD. YEAH IT WAS SHITHOUSE. THE TRAIN. JUST LEFT THE STATION. BE HOME SOON. I'LL SEE YOU SOON. ABOUT TEN MINUTES NOW. DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE THING? WHAT DID THEY SAY? SO THE LEAKAGE IS NORMAL? THAT'S A RELIEF! YEAH, STILL ON THE TRAIN."
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:09 PM on March 31, 2009


misskaz, the dude sounds really passive-aggressive to me. Instead of "stop stepping on my goddamn feet! and so forth" he could have avoiding the whole exchange by simply telling the woman "sorry that my legs are in the way, I have a medical condition."

mattdidthat, I think Ambrosia Voyeur was talking about when she is also standing. In which case, for me, it depends on the aspect and manner of the person who looks like they could really use a seat. It is a really tough call, though. I usually go with eyebrow lifts and stares unless someone is truly unable to stand, at which I might do the general announcement.

And then there's the Chivalric Knights Of Missing-the-Point, who would offer me a seat (or worse, demand a seat for me) when I was perfectly happy and able and desirous of standing.
Knight: Please sit down, miss?
Me: No, thanks, I'm fine.
Knight: No, really.
Me: No, I'd prefer to stand, thanks.
Knight: NO REALLY.
Me: !!! (finds someplace else to stand away from weirdo guy, noticing random old people, small children, and exhausted day laborers all standing)
posted by desuetude at 4:22 PM on March 31, 2009


When I see a disabled, injured, elderly, or pregnant person headed in my direction, I make eye contact and stand up.

This was my usual method on the DC metro system, but I think I remember at least one occasion when I stood up as an "in need" person was entering the train and someone else who had been standing swooped into the spot. So, subtly doesn't always work.

Also chiming in to wish people weren't judgy, and shouty about this. Crutch guy goes to great lengths to call out people who were reading, resting, just not paying attention, when he could have simply spoken up. I went through two pregnancies on public transportation. I often wanted a seat in the first trimester while I was nauseous, but of course I wasn't showing then so I'd have to speak up and ask for a seat. And because I'm overweight, I've often been mistaken for being pregnant when I wasn't (awkward!), or not noticed to be pregnant until my ninth month. But when I did ask, politely, for a seat, I was given one.

Now I'm faced with the fun of having a painful, chronic disease when I'm only in my thirties, so I often need to sit even though I appear very healthy. No limp even, but that doesn't mean I'm not in pain later in the day if I overdue it standing or walking. So please don't yell at me if you see me in a scooter at the mall.
posted by saffry at 4:32 PM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


posted by desuetude I think Ambrosia Voyeur was talking about when she is also standing. In which case, for me, it depends on the aspect and manner of the person who looks like they could really use a seat. It is a really tough call, though. I usually go with eyebrow lifts and stares unless someone is truly unable to stand, at which I might do the general announcement.

Yes, which is why I said, "in a world where everyone practices [common courtesy], we won't need to speak up and ask that someone vacate his or her seat to someone who needs it." But I know this is not that world, which is why if I'm faced with A-V's situation, I would probably clear my throat loudly and gesture at the sign and then at the person who needs the seat. Which brings me to this:

posted by saffry [Making eye contact and standing up when I see a disabled, injured, elderly, or pregnant person headed in my direction] was my usual method on the DC metro system, but I think I remember at least one occasion when I stood up as an "in need" person was entering the train and someone else who had been standing swooped into the spot. So, subtly doesn't always work.

I've had this happen, too, in which case I've said in a voice so that all nearby can hear, "Excuse me, I'm giving this seat to him/her (hand gesture) who obviously needs it more than you or me." That has never failed to get the seat-thief to move. And if the seat-thief doesn't move, at least you've diplomatically outed the seat-thief as a jackass. Alternatively, you might say to the seat-in-need person, "I'm sorry sir/madam, I meant to offer you my seat, but he/she (hand gesture) stole it."

The way to thwart the seat-thief is to make eye contact with the person who needs the seat, and raise your eyebrows as if to say, "Would you prefer to sit?" and then get up, but remain standing in front of your seat so no one can sit until you move. Then you simply wait for the person who needs it to arrive.
posted by mattdidthat at 5:08 PM on March 31, 2009


So... should I tell my boss that someone's posted a picture of him on the web and accused him of being a jerk, or should I spare him the embarrassment? I imagine all he can do is ask the poster to take the pic down. I'm pretty sure there's no legal recourse - or am I wrong?
posted by Evangeline at 6:14 PM on March 31, 2009


posted by Evangeline So... should I tell my boss that someone's posted a picture of him on the web and accused him of being a jerk, or should I spare him the embarrassment? I imagine all he can do is ask the poster to take the pic down. I'm pretty sure there's no legal recourse - or am I wrong?

You might want to wait until after work so he doesn't ask you if you found the site and images while you were on company time. I don't know what--if any--legal recourse he has, but I imagine you would need a signed release to post a recognizable picture of someone on the web. I could be wrong, though.
posted by mattdidthat at 6:46 PM on March 31, 2009


I think I like the sound of the epithet "seat-thief" so much that I'll simply shout that as my solution to this, and all of my problems.

SEAT-THIEF!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:57 PM on March 31, 2009


You might want to wait until after work so he doesn't ask you if you found the site and images while you were on company time.

Oh, he really doesn't care, as long as I get my job done, which I always do.
posted by Evangeline at 7:15 PM on March 31, 2009


This thread is a great piece of ammunition for the "it's about the discussion, not the links" brigade.

Living in Chicago with a disability that affects my ability to get around (I use a cane to walk), I've mostly been pleasantly surprised by peoples' willingness to offer up their seats.

Mostly.

Unfortunately, my commute takes me through the DePaul University campus, where it seems to be an O.K. thing to push in front of the way of the handicapped dude waiting for the bus.

I will say, though, that I will pretty much never ask someone to give up their seat for me, even when my body is screaming in pain; I figure that if someone's sitting in one of the priority seats and doesn't offer it up they either have an "invisible" disability or they're an asshole, and I prefer not to deal with assholes, because they might rile me up and then I'll have to hit them with my cane.
posted by jtron at 7:52 PM on March 31, 2009 [1 favorite]


They mostly offer up their seats. Mostly.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:26 PM on March 31, 2009


Again, there's a dead easy tactic to stop seat thieves. Make eye contact with the person you want to give your seat to, if possible. If not, stand up, but still stay in front of your seat so that nobody can sit there and say "excuse me" - at which point various people will turn around. If your person is not one of them, then ask the person closest to offer your seat to them.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:43 AM on April 1, 2009


wat
posted by tehloki at 2:01 AM on April 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Unfortunately, my commute takes me through the DePaul University campus, where it seems to be an O.K. thing to push in front of the way of the handicapped dude waiting for the bus."

I'd probably throw someone like that down the stairs. Y'know, if only to save them from the terrible secret of space.
I was at a NIN concert a ways back. I'm a large dude and I like to mosh. So everywhere I went, the mosh followed. People just keyed on me. "Oh, there's that big dude - that's where the mosh must be." Fun for a while, but I'm not a marathon runner. Anyway, I became the eye of the storm and collected a group of small people around me who wanted to rest. It was a nice symbiotic relationship. There was this little knot I'd retreat to when I wanted to rest and people would mosh around me. So there's the break and they hand out the milk gallons of water. I'm nice, so I wait my turn and I'm not grabbing it, y'know. And I watch as over and over people take the jug away from this small girl who had gravitated by me.* I mean just literally snatch it out of her hands. So I grabbed two, one after the other, gave one to her, waited while she drank, and then handed it back out (took a drink myself, yeah, but only after her). Essentially - small folks drink first (which works as a matter of practicality - they can't reach the jug if it's being passed above a crowd). And it sort of rippled through the crowd. People started doing the same.
I think that's what's necessary - like forming a crystal. You only need one seed. People are, on the whole, basically decent, but they're pretty unthinking in some situations. Typically they need an 'aha' moment. Easy to become a tyrant in those moments, but a fair system lasts longer than force. Next break I got my fair share of water without having to take it from someone.

*yeah, I know what you're thinking, but I was old enough to drink at the time and she was 14 or 15 so no, I wasn't looking to get into her pants
posted by Smedleyman at 10:26 AM on April 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dozens of strangers drink from the same water bottle at NIN concerts? I hurt myself today, indeed!
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:31 PM on April 1, 2009


Utter crap. I'm having hip replacement surgery this month, and I walk normally. I'm in a shitload of pain every day and take tremendous amounts of pain medication. I walk because I have to, but because I'm in my early thirties and look younger, and mostly don't limp (my hip hurts no matter what the hell I do, and limping or using a cane makes my back hurt too), people give me shit all the time. Makes me want to rip off someone's face.

This month: three run-ins with meter maids, in spite of my permanent handicapped license plates, two who harassed me until I cried, and one cop who barked at me demanding to know my disability, and walked off with my handicapped wallet card from the state (that I got issued to go with my handicapped plate, so people know I'm not borrowing the plate). One bus driver who hassled me over lowering the step (on average this happens once a month, mostly they just pretend not to hear me), and uncountable bus drivers who almost knock me down by zooming off while I'm still trying to get to a seat. No one is willing to give up a seat when I ask if the bus is full. I end up just getting off again, because I can't keep my balance on a jerking bus when I'm only putting full weight on one leg.

The bones in my toes are also painfully degenerating, and my feet swell within my shoes. My other hip is going slowly, although it seems to be arrested by drugs for the moment.

If I caught anyone putting my photo on a site like the ones listed above, it would drive me to homicide.
posted by tejolote at 9:24 PM on April 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


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