Originally posted on Multiply September 1 2009
You know you are getting on when people on a crowded train offer you their seat. It feels weird. I find myself scanning the crowd for someone who really needs it. But I accept with a grateful smile because it is such a nice sign of civility, one I thought we had lost.
In a former time and place it was a matter of course that young and able people stood up for older and more feeble folk. When we took the kids to our old stomping grounds in 1988 we had instructed them in Dutch public transit manners as we knew them. Well.
On a crowded bus on the way to the train station our daughter dutifully stood up to offer her seat to an elderly lady. People stared. It took a moment for the offer to sink in. Then someone said: "You don't see that very much anymore!" I certainly didn't see any sign of this habit on the last trip there in May, more's the pity.
So I was all the more surprised when a tall young man stood up for me in the sky train in Vancouver. After some hesitation I decided to tell him about the Dutch bus incident. He beamed, and said his mother had raised him like that. Mine too! He was from China, had been in the country 12 years. We high-fived to mothers who teach good habits. It was a really nice multi-culti moment.
From far and wide, Oh Canada.