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Old Aug 7, 12, 1:32 am   #1
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Donít sit by me! Why travelers are antisocial

USA Today: Donít sit by me! Why travelers are antisocial

I thought this list of methods people use to keep a seat open were pretty amusing. I know if a train appears empty, I'll put my bag next to me, but, when it's busy, I place it at my feet or overhead.

Do we really try this hard NOT to engage with others around us? I know sometimes I just want to read, watch a video, listen to music, or take a nap...other times I'm perfectly fine chatting. I

Certainly an interesting thing to consider!



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If you've traveled on almost any type of public transport, you likely can relate to these tactics aimed at keeping a stranger from occupying that empty seat beside you.

There's the bag-on-the-seat approach. The blank stare tactic. The "back off, I'm crazy" gambit. The legs stretched into adjoining seat maneuver. And, my personal favorite, the crumpled Kleenexes strewn on the adjoining seat ploy.

Kim hasn't actually witnessed that last tactic, but she saw plenty of others while riding the bus in a series of trips over the course of 2 Ĺ years. The Yale University graduate sociology student dubs these don't-invade-my-space tactics "nonsocial transient behaviors," a topic she explores in a paper published in the journal, Symbolic Interaction.
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Old Aug 7, 12, 4:22 am   #2
 
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I think that overall this is a product of urbanization. (Yes, cultural norms do come into play, but it's more or less normal for this to happen everywhere.)
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Old Aug 7, 12, 8:27 am   #3
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The premise is wrong. It's not that people are avoiding social interaction, or that they are anti social (at least not on our trains). It's that the seats are close together and you don't want somebody sitting and rubbing up against you for the hour plus trip. Couples traveling together will leave the middle seat open on a three seater unless they are making out the entire way, not because they are anti social, but because it's just not comfortable.

I've been riding packed commuter trains to and from Manhattan at rush hour for over a dozen years now. I've made friends on the train but that doesn't mean I want them squished up against me for the ride home. Over the years with portable media and laptops getting lighter and smaller, book readers, tablets, etc, the space required to hold and use one of those makes the empty space next to you even more valuable.

I've seen pretty much every tactic out there (and often thought it was a great subject for a book, how to keep an empty middle seat), but in the end it's never your choice, it's the choice of the person looking for a seat if they want it or not.

Personally, I would rather stand then be in the middle seat, and it's an ongoing argument if the trains need to expand capacity since there are usually empty middle seats even with people standing. It doesn't mean those people are anti social.
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Old Aug 7, 12, 1:45 pm   #4
 
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For me even if there is an empty middle between me and the other pax we never talk and at least for me I consider it because of shyness. Why bother striking up a conversation with someone you will likely never see again? I have only flown domestic so flights are only a few hours anyway, I know my first long haul international I would expect some conversation. When riding public transit I am too busy watching and listening for my stop to pay attention to anyone else.

I don't have a problem with middle seats themselves. If the aisle and window were empty I would have no problem sitting in the middle seat. I just don't like having my elbows or elbows of strangers up in my side. Particularly if my seat mate is rather large as a weightlifter I have bulky shoulders as it is so getting up close and personal with another large individual is not comfortable, an attractive female on the other hand I have no problem with.

Haha how is this for a middle seat mental image? Picture in your mind a "customer of size" sitting in a middle seat. FA's had to grease up the arm rests to squeeze him in there. Fat folds muffin topping over the arm rests. Gut so big the tray table won't come down. Horrifying.
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Old Aug 7, 12, 3:23 pm   #5
 
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an attractive female on the other hand I have no problem with.
That's really not nice. Think of what you just said.
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Old Aug 7, 12, 8:29 pm   #6
 
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That's really not nice. Think of what you just said.
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Originally Posted by Dadaluma83 View Post
I don't have a problem with middle seats themselves. If the aisle and window were empty I would have no problem sitting in the middle seat. I just don't like having my elbows or elbows of strangers up in my side. Particularly if my seat mate is rather large as a weightlifter I have bulky shoulders as it is so getting up close and personal with another large individual is not comfortable, an attractive female on the other hand I have no problem with.

Haha how is this for a middle seat mental image? Picture in your mind a "customer of size" sitting in a middle seat. FA's had to grease up the arm rests to squeeze him in there. Fat folds muffin topping over the arm rests. Gut so big the tray table won't come down. Horrifying.
chx1975, did you object to his comment about attractive women or the comment about POS?
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Old Aug 8, 12, 3:11 am   #7
 
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I like using the extra seat to put my bag or other belongings. Sometimes you can raise the arms rests and use 2 seats as one. Plus, you never know who the other person next to you may be. Maybe he/she is overweight, sick, smelly, or just annoying.
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Old Aug 8, 12, 4:19 am   #8
 
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That's really not nice. Think of what you just said.
What's not nice about wanting to talk to an attractive female? I'm confused...
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Old Aug 8, 12, 4:24 am   #9
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Originally Posted by travelinmanS View Post
What's not nice about wanting to talk to an attractive female? I'm confused...
I think it's the getting
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up close and personal with another large individual is not comfortable, an attractive female on the other hand I have no problem with.
bit, which could be interpreted differently than just talking...
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Old Aug 8, 12, 2:52 pm   #10
 
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Yeah I could have probably used different words but I basically mean sitting shoulder to shoulder with an attractive female I have no problem with on a plane.
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Old Aug 8, 12, 6:46 pm   #11
 
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Originally Posted by MVF Trekker View Post
I like using the extra seat to put my bag or other belongings. Sometimes you can raise the arms rests and use 2 seats as one. Plus, you never know who the other person next to you may be. Maybe he/she is overweight, sick, smelly, or just annoying.
Maybe you should charter a plan/train just for yourself so you won't have to deal with the dregs of humanity (which I guess you don't feel you belong to.)
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Old Aug 8, 12, 8:16 pm   #12
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Originally Posted by Dadaluma83 View Post
I have only flown domestic so flights are only a few hours anyway, I know my first long haul international I would expect some conversation.
You won't get much out of me on a INTL flight; I work on the laptop, catch up on reading, sleep, etc. Besides, I'm not an attractive female anyway.
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Old Aug 8, 12, 9:34 pm   #13
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