A while ago, I was unlucky enough to be squeezed onto a commuter bus packed full of college students but had the pleasure of standing next to a frail little old lady who had been through the war and served our country.
As the bus bounced and swayed, she was incredibly unstable on her feet. I looked around at every single student sat in the “reserved for passengers who are eldery, pregnant or disabled” not one of them relinquished their seat.
But every single one of them held my gaze until they sheepishly looked away in embarrassment.
I supported the lady until her stop and helped her disembark and went to work fuming at the lack of respect and manners that today’s generation seem to have.
I ranted at the bus company on twitter who patronised me back. Surely their drivers have a duty of care and if an eldery person needs a seat the driver should assist where possible. I always remember bus drivers telling people to move out of the seats reserved for the elderly And in our case she was stood right next to the bus driver because it was so packed!
When I was younger, and of course many of you too, we would go on journeys with our mums or dads on public transport. Whether it was to the nearest town from the village, a trip to the doctors, or a visit to relatives, 95% of my journeys as a child were done on public transport and this is where the problem lies.
On these trips, if an elderly person got on and there were no seats, your mum or dad would make you stand up for them, the same happened if a pregnant lady got on, or a disabled person or in fact another mother with a young child. In fact if anyone got on that needed the seat more than you, you can bet your last half penny sweet that my mum would make me give up my seat. It was drilled into me from a very early age that this was polite and good manners and was what you did on pubic transport as a matter of course.
And there lies your problem… Today less and less people use public transport to travel with their children, purely due to the hassle and the affordability of your own car ,and, because of this, the children of today haven’t experienced this valuable lesson in life. This vital “give up your seat to those more in need” lesson isn’t being passed on to our children. Therefore, the car is to blame..
You don’t choose to bring your children up with bad manners, or a lack of respect, but if they don’t witness good behaviour and respect themselves, or are forced to give up their seat when needed, and learn respect for others by watching you show it to others how will they learn?
If you take your children in your car to the local zoo, no-one else gets in the car with you. Your children don’t and can’t give up their seat to anyone, in fact, the worst that can happen is that they jump in the coveted front passenger seat, to be told to sit in the back.
This is not your fault as parents. Our use of the car is to blame.
So here is my plea to parents, hear my shout out, my call to arms, my request. Please, please, please, take your children on the bus or train occasionally and show them the importance of giving up their seat to someone who needs it more than they do.
Wait for it, and dare I say it? Why not even give up your seat yourself and lead by example because if you don’t, when you need a seat on public transport in your twilight years you may be met by a wall of faces refusing to give up their seat because after all why should they? They were there first.