The other day in one of my other blogs, I posted the 12 Basic Rules of Chivalry for the Knights of the Round Table, and someone responded that it is shame that the world no longer lives by these rules...and I have been thinking about it ever since. It is so true, and our world would be such a better place if chivalry was still practice...not just chivalry but some of the little considerations for your fellow man.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones...for I was born and raised during a time when thoughtfulness and consideration for your elders was not only taught, but expected. I, too, took public transportation to school, but there ws a difference. I can still remember clearly, how if the bus was full and an adult got on...any adult, age didn't matter...just that they were older than us...one of us had to give up our seat or the bus driver would pull over to the side of the rode and stop until someone did get up. Fortunately, someone always did so we never got to see what would happen if everyone refused. And this wasn't just "a" bus driver; this was all bus drivers. This was an unwritten law in those days.
Now, we most certainly cannot expect that out of our bus drivers and train operators today so it is up to us as parents to teach our children...but sadly many do not. In one of my job, I used to have to take the "F" train to Jay Street and then pick up the "A" train to go back into another part of Brooklyn. During the school year there would be a mother there with her 5 children waiting for the train when I arrived. These children ranged from about age 8 to age 15...certainly old enough to stand if need be. But, every morning, when that train rolled in and the doors opened, that mother would scoot her 5 children in past me allowing them to run and grab whatever seats were available...one would even take up two seats so her mother would have one...and then they would all watch me stand. Awful, isn't it? But this happens so frequently. Why?
Some say it's all the different nationalities here in New York who bring with them their own different customs and ways of doing things. Hogwash, I say!!! Asian people are known for their deep consideration and reverence of the elderly. So, why are they grabbing the seats and making an old woman stand? A male friend once responded when I asked about this, "Well, you women wanted your women's lib. This is what you get." More hogwash, I say. Nowhere was it ever written in women's lib that young, healthy males would be able to just about knock down older women to grab a seat on the subway. Women's lib had to do with women's rights...and no way did it excuse males from the gentlemanly duties...And, besides, if this is our fate from women's lib, why do elderly men still have to stand, too? And what about pregnant women? At 61 years old I was the only one to give up my seat for a pregnant women even though I was surrounded by young businessmen and women.
I've heard people say that "Well, that's the way New Yorkers are." Not true. More hogwash. About 12 years ago I managed to slip 3 of my discs and was in tremendous pain. Six months it took me to heal. Well, one time I was on the subway with my cane, and there were no seats. There were three young men (I'd say in their mid-twenties) seated in front of me, and they were talking excitedly about all the things they had planned on their trip to New York. These men actually saw me wincing in pain, tears welling in my eyes it hurt so bad, but not only did none offer me a seat, but one actually had the NERVE to ask me directions to someplace.
No, this lack of chivalry doesn't start in New York; it doesn't start in some other country; women's lib didn't bring it on. Parents did. I raised my boys just as I was raised, and today they are two of the few New Yorkers who will give up there seats to someone older. Parents have to teach their children respect...respect and consideration for those who are disabled or older than them. This begins in the home...nowhere else. Instead of that mother at Jay Street teaching her children to almost knock me over to grab the seats, she should be teaching them to offer it to me. When I see something like that, or young, healthy people monopolizing the seats, that "One day you will be me, and I hope someone gives up their seat for you.' or "How do you feel when someone makes YOUR mother stand?"
Still another time I was on a crowded train, and some teenage girl had a seat and was talking to her buddies who were standing. I suffer from fibro so I am almost always in some sort of pain...so I watching this girl to see if she would get up...but, of course, she didn't until it was her stop, and as she was leaving the car and I was edging over to the seat, I heard this girl laughing "I knew that lady was gonna grab the seat when I got up. You should of seen the way she was watching me." What, my friends, was so funny about that? The last laugh was actually on her.
In closing, and sorry for the rant, I'd like to say that I have been raised so well that I still feel uncomfortable when someone gets on the train who looks up in years. And then I think to myself, "You know what? You are older than she is." That's how well it was drilled into me.