Q: To offer or not offer a seat on the bus to an older person?

Apr14 M23

The M23 bus (Photo courtesy of the MTA)

The question of the week is just how old should someone look for a younger person to give up his or her seat on the bus or subway? Town & Village welcomes reader opinions on this question after hearing an M23 rider, when being offered a seat by another passenger, remark to his companion who boarded with him and took a nearby empty seat, “I guess we’re old.”

This question (possibly the first in a series), explores whether it’s worse to offer — and potentially upset someone who doesn’t want to be seen as old — or not offer a seat to someone who looks like they may need it out of concern it may hurt the individual’s feelings. The same goes for individuals who may (or may not be) pregnant.

We would like to publish readers’ thoughts, with anonymity provided upon request. Email editor@townvillage.net.

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6 thoughts on “Q: To offer or not offer a seat on the bus to an older person?

  1. I’ve had two recent experiences with nasty older women (they were easily over 80) getting mad at me when offering them my seat. Instead of just saying “no thank you,” they went on this tirade that i was sexist and committing age discrimination.

    Now I only give my seat to the pregnant woman or anyone that looks like they have an injury. These two ruined my decades of practicing good manners on the bus, so I apologize to anyone that I insult by not getting up to give you my seat.

    • I LOVE when a young man or woman offers me a seat on the bus or train! I wish more would do it. I never would ask anybody to give me their seat unless felt like I was going to faint, but I really do appreciate it if someone offers me their seat.

      Your parents did a very good job of raising you, Steve. Please don’t let a couple of silly, nasty old crones undo any of that goodness.

  2. I think it’s always better to offer. I have one arm and while I rarely accept people’s offer of a seat, the gesture is always appreciated. I don’t think that a small minority of people should keep people from offering seat a to those who need them.

  3. I have seen people ask someone to give them their seat and have been refused, usually with a few sharp words about also being tired and having to work for a living. I would NEVER refuse to give my seat to a person who asked, even if it was somebody younger than myself. You never know if that person is in pain, feels faint or has a disability that is not immediately apparent. I feel a bit annoyed when I see high school kids and young adults hogging the seats when there are elderly people standing, but I never say anything. They always hog the seats that are under the signs that say “Won’t you Please ……”

  4. I’ve noticed that the people most likely to offer a seat to a senior citizen are the young “Hipster” demo, who are usually from another state. There are plenty of them on the L Train and I usually decline because I am only going a couple of stops, but I let them know that I appreciate the offer. Thoughtfulness and good manners should never be discouraged and unappreciated!

  5. I was 15 and my left leg was in a cast up to my knee from Labor Day week to just before Thanksgiving. I was on crutches. I’d been raised to cede my seat to someone who needed it more than I did, but no one ever got up for me on the 14th St. crosstown bus — except just once. It was a pregnant woman. I thanked her but didn’t take her seat. In the more than fifty years since, I have never given up my seat for anyone ever again … unless it was for a pregnant woman.

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