Front Seating, Invisible Disabilities, Elderly, Whippersnappers
The intrepid author has witnessed far too often, problems on the transit system when it comes to how the disabled and elderly are treated. The transit staff are not what I am talking about, I find they do a pretty good job and I find that things are constantly improving in regards to services within Metro Vancouver and I would hope in other cities as well. What I am referring to is the regard many citizens have for the seating set aside for people who may be disabled or otherwise have problems standing or walking on a moving bus.
I have watched young people taking up the front seats of the bus which are labelled for disabled or elderly passengers with no regard for those who might need them. The drivers can only do so much for them when the bus is full and they can barely see past the people standing in the aisles. It is okay for able bodied people to use those seats when they aren't needed, but the signs say they must be given up when the area is needed by the disabled, elderly, or when people in wheelchairs or mobility aids are riding on the bus.
I am not sure just what is up with these otherwise clean cut individuals. They just do not seem to care and they act like they are entitled to the seating - they payed their fare, they were there first, they get the seats.
...or that is what I thought until yesterday when after getting off a crowded bus I watched a couple of guys having taken up two of those front seats -- even while people with canes were standing with difficulty on the crowded bus -- literally dancing at the transit exchange.
After the fact I was wondering if they were even enjoying that they had taken up those seats? Perhaps they had other reasons that they were dancing and perhaps they were "ignorant" that they were doing anything wrong in the first place. I still would like to think that.
I realized something on the bus. There are many people with invisible handicaps and if you do see someone not getting up for someone else and giving up their seat -- they might be invisibly handicapped. I am not sure how appropriate it might be to ask someone who looks able if they are and using those seats unless you actually are the person in need of one of those seats... or you are asking for someone in need. When someone is entering the bus in a wheelchair or mobility scooter it is pretty obvious that those front bench seats will need to be folded up. I am not sure but I figure that any reasonable person who is fit would give up another seat for an elderly person who has to give up one of those seats for a wheel chair. But I am a bit steamed over totally fit young people who take up those seats without regard for others who need them.
I also know that often the people who need those "handicapped" seats are also those less likely to speak up and ask for them. They tend not to want to make a fuss and just want to go through life quietly. I know that is a generalization and it comes from anecdotal observational evidence, but it is what I have seen to be the case.
Somehow I think that when they refer to seating for disabled people they don't mean morally disabled or morally handicapped....