Metro manners: How to signal your impending exit? (Poll)
The situation: A rider sits on a crowded Metro train, bound by its intimate geography. To the left, the cream molded plastic of the car. To the right, the body of a fellow passenger. Ahead, another seat supports another set of riders. Soon, they, too, will navigate Metro's most awkward dance: The interior rider's exit. The train hurtles toward the rider's final destination. Her station approaches. In order to make her escape, something must give. What does she do?
Surveying the options: Does she raise her hand to tap her companion upon the shoulder? Does she verbalize her request: "excuse me," or more to the point, "this is my stop"? Does she conspicuously gather her personal effects, perhaps folding a newspaper or clasping a messenger bag in the hopes that her associate will take notice and release her from confinement before she must take more drastic measures? Does she study the face of her seatmate, hoping their eyes catch at the correct moment, that hers adequately communicate her present need—and nothing else—and that he clear the way? Or does she simply lift her butt from the seat?
Factors to consider: Any time fellow riders are forced to communicate with one another, the dehumanizing conventions of the Metro car must be considered. In the confines of the train, shoulders and hips mingle in unnatural intimacy; a deliberate tap on the shoulder risks acknowledging the uncomfortable physical arrangement. But in a space where strange bodies routinely interact, verbal contact is perhaps most conspicuous. In an effort to cling to a last illusion of privacy, is the passive aggression of things-gathering, eye contacting, and butt lifting a bridge too far? And once the interior rider decides upon the appropriate method for signaling the exterior rider to her exit, when does she act? Does she afford her companion ample time to prepare to make way? Or does she risk signaling too soon, forcing the companion to navigate a vertical lurch as the train comes to a stop?
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