Giving your seat up is common courtesy, isn’t it?

Ryan Bailey

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I was under the impression that giving up your seat to an elderly person or a pregnant woman was a natural impulse, an automatic act of kindness and simply common courtesy. However, recent experiences on various modes of public transport in Dublin have made me question the apparent “friendliness” of the Irish.

Pic: Flickr Creative Commons/infomatique
Pic: Flickr Creative Commons/infomatique

Ironically, there is now a week dubbed “Electric Ireland Kindness Week”, which is a campaign of goodwill targeted at the Irish public in an attempt to share a little human kindness and raise some money for charity at the same time. A good idea which was apparently successful, however, what’s the point of being kind and doing a good deed during this one week of the year and the 51 other weeks you resort back to your ignorant and rude ways?

In fairness, throughout the decade which I have been using public transport on a daily basis, I have witnessed so many gestures of goodwill and manners from people giving up their seat to helping those who are unwell but unfortunately it’s the moments of pure rudeness and disrespect which I have witnessed, that sit at the front of my mind.

The most recent incident and probably most shocking happened last week whilst I was on my way home from college. The majority of commuters keep to themselves by listening to music, browsing the Metro newspaper or even resting their eyes for a moment or two but as I learned, not everybody is so civilised.

After a long day, many couldn’t wait to get home for the evening as the wind and rain bashed against the side of the tram. In a rare moment that I managed to pull myself away from the newspaper, I caught a glimpse of four hooded teens boarding the Luas at the other end. Don’t get me wrong, there is no problem with anybody having their hood up especially on a typically miserable November evening in Dublin but I had a sense trouble was on the horizon.

For some reason the Luas, especially the Red line, seems to attract these low lives who enjoy making other peoples journey a misery. The hooded youths insisted on stomping the length of the tram for some unknown reason which “they” all seem to do.

Anyway, the journey went on without incident until an elderly couple boarded the tram in Dundrum with a handful of shopping after clearly spending the afternoon in the shopping centre. They must have been at least 70 and looked exhausted from the experience of the day out. After several attempts to sit down, the couple finally got the attention of the teens who had taken up several seats by lounging with their feet on the opposite side.

Pic credit: Flickr Creative Commons/bbusschots
Pic credit: Flickr Creative Commons/bbusschots

They obviously weren’t too pleased with the OAPs “invading” their space, so decided to return to the opposite end of the carriage, where I was conveniently situated.

They perched themselves on the fold-out seats in the centre of the carriage; officially only meant to be used during times of relative quietness. Anyway, in a script that was inevitable, a heavily pregnant women appeared at the doors with a large buggy and rucksack. You know how this ends, don’t you?

A middle aged business man had kindly lifted the large buggy onto the tram for her and assisted her in finding a seat. The youths were slouching in the area which is reserved for disabled/elderly/pregnant people but didn’t seem to even realise that this woman was pregnant, let alone on the luas.

The tall and skinny gentleman had the decency to kindly ask the teenagers if they could allow the lady to park the buggy in the designated area and have a seat beside it.  He didn’t realise what he had got himself in for on a routine commute home from work.

“You must be joking mister!” one responded.

“Who are you, her f***in da?”

The whole tram had now woken up, unplugged their earphones and reluctantly put down their reading material. More converse materialised until some other “brave” commuters had the decency to assist the gentleman, who was now for some reason, under bombardment from these foul-mouthed youths.

God only knows how this confrontation may have ended if it wasn’t for the timely interruption from the well-built Luas security guards, who forcefully removed the pure filth from the tram

To be honest, it was a rather unsavoury moment which had the rest of the evening commuters quaking in their boots, including myself.

What has come of some people in this country?

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Ryan Bailey