Last week I got an email from a woman in her 40s asking for some advice:
Because of a chronic illness, I frequently use a cane, but I have noticed that during rush hour people are so absorbed in their little electronic devices that even those in the priority seats don't give them up when I get on the train.
Now, I get it: people are tired. Maybe they have a hidden disability. The priority seats on trains are not well-marked. Maybe they don't realize their in a seat where the disabled and seniors get priority, although it seems like seniors are sometimes the only ones willing to give up their seats.
So in the interest of assuming that people are not just being rude, indifferent jerks and want to do the right thing, how would you phrase asking someone for their seat? I don't want to create conflict. But sometimes I really do need a seat.
I really don't want to hit people with the cane, and, actually when I have, they haven't noticed anyway.
Be very sincere and simply ask: "I wonder if you would mind giving up your seat for me?" And gesture to the cane (without hitting them, of course).
People, please be just a little more attentive to your surroundings and give your seat to some who may need it. That means the elderly, pregnant women and people on crutches or using canes.
And speaking of canes, the woman told me that she actually has used her cane to "tap" recalcitrant priority seat sitters.
And they never noticed. Don't let that be you.