As I got on the train this morning, so was a guy on crutches. He seemed to be struggling a bit to board. There were no seats, and he stood next to me in the doorway and grabbed onto a handle. He seemed more disabled than injured, if you know what I mean, but he wasn’t flailing about as the train moved.

I looked over at the people in the nearest seats. Would any of them volunteer to get up? I would have. None did. They looked a bit guilty. I looked to see if there was a "Please offer seat to disabled or elderly people" sign, but there wasn’t.

What should I do? Should I be a vigilante, and demand one of them give up a seat? One lady I recognised as someone who got off two stops along. Why on earth wouldn’t she just offer her seat now? Maybe he didn’t want a seat? Wouldn’t he ask for one if he did? Maybe he was a regular on this train (I only catch it sometimes) and everybody knew he didn’t want to sit down, because getting up again would have been a pain. I could ask him if he needed a seat. Yeah, that’s what I could do.

Just then we got to the next station, and he got off the train. I looked at the other people again. It was hard to tell if they seemed relieved. What had happened here? I wasn’t sure. They all looked like fairly well-dressed, well brought-up polite people. Had they asked him every day for the past week if he had wanted a seat, been knocked back and (quite reasonably) stopped asking? Or were they all mean spirited hard-nosed gits showing unusual levels of heartlessness, proving a point that disabled people can be safely ignored until they go away, and generally contributing to the breakdown of civilised society?

I don’t know.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.