The Times addresses a pet peeve of ours: letting infirm, pregnant, and otherwise challenged people take your seat in the subway. They are inspired by a new, passive-aggressive, thoroughly Bloombergian subway sign that says of seat-offering, “it’s not only polite, it’s the law.” Nannyism of the worst kind, we say. The Madrid Metro used to have seats reservado para caballeros mutilados (meant for Civil War survivors, we believe), but that was under Franco — do we really want to take etiquette tips from fascists?
Plus, what if the disabled person is an asshole? As W.C. Fields and Larry David have shown, this is more than possible. Besides, look how curmudgeonly we are, and we’re only emotionally crippled. And no one makes allowances for us! If we’ve had a long hard day of speaking truth to power, and are physically and emotionally spent, maybe we deserve a seat more than the old lady who just disinherited the daughter she’s been emotionally undercutting for decades, and thinks her advanced age and leg braces mean we should get up so she can take her ease while she plots more psychological torments. Not a chance, you old bitch!
Also, we’re always hearing that the disabled are really “differently abled,” as we are differently abled than Superman or Bruce Lee. They have their abilities, and we have ours. We saw those guys in Murderball — they don’t look like they need our help with anything, except when they tip over, in which case someone always seems to step up. Whereas when we’re on the roof at 3 a.m., thinking about jumping, who’s there for us? It seems some differently abled are more differently abled than others!
We endorse Dr. Stanley Milgram’s prescription: let the infirm party ask for a seat. His and others’ experiments show that such entreaties get results because New Yorkers are a lot more courteous than they let on, but we don’t like being presumed upon. If the lame will do us the honor of asking for our seat, we will happily do them the honor of granting it. Unless we don’t like their tone. Then they have to fight us for it.