Sunday, July 15, 2007

The End of Civilization

I witnessed the beginning of the end of Western Civilization the other night on the way home from work. It was on a late and crowded MARC train to Odenton. I had just given up my seat to a "lady" who apparently was not satisfied with one she had taken next to me. She wanted mine as well. Fine. I left for better, more civilized accommodations in the next car.

Finding none, I took up a standing spot and tried to do last week's crossword. At New Carrollton, the first stop, where the train was also late, the platform was crowded with tired commuters. One was a lady. A large lady. On a MARC commuter train, the volume of air one displaces is something of premium and everyone, even the brain dead, are somehow acutely aware of that displacement. It's different than on the subways and buses which are designed for standing commutes. The MARC train is designed for more civilized travel.

So this large lady was standing next to me as we pulled away from the station. I looked around in disgust at all the men sitting while this lady struggled to remain standing as the cattle-car lurched and swayed. I remembered writing years ago in my proto-blog about Etiquette on a MARC Train. Finally I heard a small voice. Another lady, noticing the poor woman's difficulty keeping her balance stood up from her seat next to a man. A Man! This is it, I thought, the Man will be shamed into giving up his seat instead. I watched as both rose, the man smiled at the gentle lady. I watched in horror as the man allowed one lady to give up her seat to another lady. I could not believe it as I watch the man retake his precious seat.

"I never thought I'd live to see the day when a lady is forced to give up her seat for another lady! Too bad there are no gentlemen in this car"! The whole car heard me. There were some protests. I shushed them with a wave of my hand. Perhaps I had embarrassed them. I hope I did. Perhaps they might act differently in the future.

The gentle lady took up the standing space formerly occupied by the large lady. She immediately made it sound as though she was grateful for the chance to stand. "I've been sitting all day..." She realized there was no excuse and no defense for these ...males. Of course I blamed her as a modern woman, a feminist. Oh no, no. She insists she appreciates being treated like a lady by a gentleman. Well I'm sorry, I told her bluntly. I'm taken.

I hope we can be gentlemen inspite of feminism. I hope that we'll feel uncomfortable sitting while ladies stand. So, are we men? Or are we little girls? Fat, old, bald-headed bearded little girls? I think you know where I stand.

1 comment:

Greg Kline said...

You are pointing out ungentlemanly behavior, I am asking why we have police with neck tattoos. Perhaps the end is coming or we are just crumudgeons unwilling to embrace our brave new world.

You are right, of course, though a "progressive" minded man might say giving up your seat to a fully able woman would be the equivalent of asking her why she is not home taking care of the kids, offensive to her equality and a anachronistic practice of a long discarded patriarchal society.

Brave new world indeed.