It was the 5:27 out of Gotham.
It was 5:25, and the usual scramble of passengers was ambling up the aisle from the rear of the train, in search of prime seats, then just OK seats, then any seats.
A woman of, shall we say, Rubenesque frame was hugging the window seat of a three-seater. She had her bag on the aisle seat, two seats away. Three times, someone went to sit in the aisle seat, staring at her to move her bag.
“I’m waiting for someone,” she replied each time.
In fact, she’d done this to me just last week. I gave her an extra long look, attemping to break her will. She would not budge, and I forged onward, in search of a seat. In fact, I found one two rows behind her. Get this–her would-be seatmate, her special “someone,” never showed.
As the train was about to push off, the conductor with the mellifluous Indian accent–as if on cue–came on the PA system.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please do not wait for someone to make the middle seat available,” she said.
C’mon, we’re not in kindergarten, ma’am. I can see if your seatmate has busted off to the bathroom. I can also see saving a seat for someone you expect to see on the train, someone you’ve arranged to ride with (yet even that gets a little dicey when it approaches go time and the train is full).
But that’s the province of daytrippers–you don’t do that on your daily commute, and this lady is most certainly a daily rider. And you don’t save both the middle seat and the aisle seat. And you most certainly don’t pretend to save a seat for someone who never shows.
(UPDATE: IRidetheHarlemLine.com’s Emily notes that it’s not even legal to save a seat on Metro-North, at least according to 1986 rules.)
As it turned out, someone caugh the woman with her guard down for a split second, sliding her spot-saving bag over to the empty middle, and easing into the aisle seat. She looked but didn’t say anything. No would-be seatmate arrived, if you’re scoring at home, which I was.
If she pulls that trick on me again, I will transgress the holiest of commuter mores and will take the middle seat, squeezing right up against her zaftig stature.
After all, she’s saving the aisle seat–not the middle.
I may be miserable for the next 45 minutes…No, I’ll definitely be miserable for the next 45 minutes. But I’ll show Little Miss Seat Saver.