I’m starting out with the hypothesis that people just don’t care about being nice to others. While I could probably give you dozens of examples, I’ll go with a recent bus ride that I had.

I’m sitting in a window seat, towards the back of the bus. Where I was going doesn’t really matter, especially as I don’t remember where I was going, but I remember what happened on the bus.

I’m sitting. I pull our my ereader and put my glasses atop my head. I only need glasses for distance: when I read, I don’t need any help. I’m not saying this to gloat, it’s just a fact of my life.

But anyway.

Bus. Glasses atop my head. Reading.

The bus stops short. My glasses fly backwards off my head, landing in the seat behind me. There is a man in one of the seats, my glasses land in the seat next to him. He proceeds to say to my huffily,

Uh…your glasses

He doesn’t hand them to me. I have to reach over my seat, unsteadily I add, to try to grab them, and they’ve slid to the back of the seat. I can’t really show you a diagram, but suffice to say, this was a very difficult maneuver.

The man watched all this, and didn’t even make a try to help me. How do someone’s glasses end up next to you and you not hand them back to the person who dropped/lost them? He was purposely, avoiding looking at me.

Am I wrong to think that the guy should have just handed me my glasses?

A few stops after the glasses incident, a young woman (not so young to be a high school student) gets on with a huge backpack. She gets in the seat next to me and sits with her feet in the aisle, with the backpack towards me, effectively pushing me into the window.

At this point I’m fed up.

You’ve heard the term “manspreading”? It’s basically when a guy sits on the subway with his legs open so the no one can sit on either side of him.

Well, I womanspread. I pushed my arm into the backpack so that the woman was forced to reposition herself. She gave me a look, which I returned with a look…and no one wants to challenge the look of a woman who is a wife and a mother. This was the look I use with my family when they have gone too far…

Was I wrong to expect the woman to take her oversize backpack off and leave it on her lap?

I know early in pandemic we were sitting around singing campfire songs and being united as one… (well, that was the party line anyway…)

But now…

Have people gotten more selfish?

Would you have handed me my glasses?

Would you have taken off your backpack before you sat down?

Does no one want to be bothered with anyone else?


81 thoughts on “Are People Nice?

  1. I would have helped you with your glasses and taken my backpack off before sitting down on the bus….

    I was picking up an order at Target last night, and there was this woman who was clearly upset talking to two other people. As I had to wait in line for a bit, I eventually figured out that the first woman had locked her keys in her car, and the couple were strangers (to her) who were trying to help her out and were going to stick around to make sure she got into her car and was okay. So there are good people out there, but I think we tend to remember the crappy ones more than the nice ones.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Yes, to all your questions. It always seems to me that I encounter the rude ones all on the same day, then life goes along fine for awhile, then boom- all over again. I’ve never understood how or why it can hurt anyone to take a moment or two and put themselves in the place of someone else. Have they only ever encountered rudeness? Are they socially naive and inept on decent behavior? What a way to live your life.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is a tough one. During COVID we were taught NOT to touch things, wash your hands immediately, etc. So, it’s hard to know. Was this being lazy/unfriendly or just not wanting to touch someone else’s belongings. With the backpack, FOR SURE, she should have put the pack in front of her. BUT if her backpack was super heavy, maybe it was hard enough to just put it on, so she didn’t not want to take it off. I’ve stopped figuring people out.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. If you’re that worried, you probably wouldn’t be riding mass transit and not wearing a mask. He seemed bothered by my glasses falling backwards, as if I did it on purpose

      Liked by 1 person

    2. That’s a good point about not touching things. I guess the question would be: was that person that was not handing the glasses (which does seem to me to be very basic courtesy, even below “common courtesy :)) wearing a mask? If he was, he might have been concerned about that, if he wasn’t, perhaps it’s even more than being rude, it’s being unaware of being rude? Just like the opposite of love is not hate, but apathy?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Absolutely! It’s hard to know. I do smile when someone holds a door open for me, or the other day I told someone I liked their outfit, the lady was so happy. She said she “almost” didn’t dress up, so the compliment meant a lot. I do think COVID and now winter coming has put everyone in “odd” moods. Tired and a bit cranky. I wish they would show more “good things” that happen in the world. That would encourage people to be kind, etc.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I like how you said that: sometimes it’s the little things, it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. But definitely the “little things” like the compliment you paid the lady, the smile you gave the person who held the door, those “little things” can be a huge highlight in someone’s day. I think we need a better name for them than “little things”…

        Liked by 2 people

    3. I was going to make similar comments as Brilliant Viewpoint. Here are my answers to your questions.

      Have people gotten more selfish? Yes

      Would you have handed me my glasses? Yes

      Would you have taken off your backpack before you sat down? Probably not

      Does no one want to be bothered with anyone else? First, I could use my old fallback to the notion that NYCers are just rude! Second, given the current nasty, uncertain, tumultuous, pick your adjective state of the world, it’s probably easier and possibly even safer to not be bothered with anyone else. Pitiful excuse, but still…

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ll be honest, I find that episodes of rudeness/lack of consideration seems to come along when I’m feeling least able to deal with it (or maybe the rest of the time, I just let it wash over me). I’d have handed you your glasses and removed the backpack – I constantly ride shotgun on Himself when we’re out taking pictures, as his camera backpack can take out adults, let alone small children when he turns suddenly.

    I think people become so focused on themselves, their needs, and what they’re doing that they’re not thinking about anyone else. I wonder if this is part of society’s elevation of the individual over the community. There certainly seems to be an increase in thoughtlessness and self-entitlement which seems to underpin this type of behaviour.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think it’s individual over human. And that’s only going to get worse with things being remote. We’ll lose our abilities to get along with others


  5. I think most people settle for nice, doing only what’s polite and expected–though your two examples didn’t even aspire to that. It takes more effort and risk to be genuinely kind. Many people would rather not take that risk.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Both of these incidents would have irritated me, especially because they occurred on the same bus ride. After reading the previous comments, my perspective shifted slightly because I hadn’t considered COVID in relation to someone hesitating to pick up your glasses. However, the man was rude, as was the girl with the backpack. Whatever day they had before running into you, or what was going on in their personal life, their actions were generally rude.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Definitely give you back your glasses and probably make some kind of remark like, “That was some stop, huh?” or “Your glasses have wings.” Of course take the backpack off. How is it even comfortable to sit with a backpack on anyway? Same with big purses. Put them in your lap if you don’t want to put them on the floor. Sheesh.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I would have definitely handed you your glasses. I also would have dug my elbow into that woman’s backpack. Civility isn’t dead, but it seems in critical condition because it is just easier to watch yourself, to feel you are entitled and that you don’t want to be bothered. That is what you encountered with these two people. But if you think about it, that is the reputation New Yorkers have. In my experience it is not deserved, but it is their/our reputation.
    Why he didn’t hand you your glasses, who knows. Maybe he didn’t like what you were reading, or maybe he was just a jerk.
    Why did she sit that way, same thing. Who knows. She just felt like it.
    As for you, stay polite. Don’t let these louts get you down.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every place has rude people. But when I do encounter someone who has experienced rude behavior in the city, I ask where they spent their time. If they say Times Square I simply tell them that very few New Yorkers hang out there unless they’re going to the theater, so they most likely didn’t encounter a new yorker

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I would say that at least half of the population are not interested in being nice – some people are so self-absorbed that it doesn’t even occur to them that helping others is a virtue they should aspire to. I’m not sure why this is now – are kids not taught that in school or church or by parents who may be unkind and ruthless themselves?. It’s not a nice world out there. The other half are puzzled by how much the world has changed and not for the better.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Yes to both. Unless I just didn’t think of it, which sometimes happens when I’m very focused on something else. Maybe those people were having an off moment. Would you mind… giving me my glasses/making more room with the backpack/whatever, may remind them of their manners

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Honestly She deserved to get pushed because that was rude of her! Like come on take your freakin backpack off!!! And yes he should’ve handed you your glasses or said do you mind me touching your glasses so I can hand them to you?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Niceties have gone out the window. I find people are becoming ruder and more selfish. Recently I held the door open for a woman, who bristled past me like I was hired to do it. I said loudly, “You’re welcome.” I’m sure she heard me but kept walking. I just can’t imagine not saying thank you to someone who holds the door, nor could I imagine not helping you retrieve your glasses. Common decency shouldn’t be so hard to find.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yes, people are more selfish. I wouldn’t have thought twice about handing you your glasses and I would never wear a backpack on a bus. I would go overboard trying not to take up extra space. I even hate it when my purse bangs into someone when I’m standing.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. How hard is it to hand someone their glasses???! Gosh! And yes, take the backpack off! Simple courtesy can go so far. Apparently neither of these people had it!
    Love how you gave her the “look!” Yup, don’t mess with a mama’s “look!” 😄

    It can be discouraging when encountering such rude people but I still think the majority of humans are decent and kind! I think its easy to overlook the person holding the door for us, letting us go first in a grocery line, giving us a smile. Little things that we take for granted.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I absolutely think the pandemic has made people’s manners worse. They were already eroding even before it struck, due to (in my opinion), the internet. People are able to take care of their needs without having to interact very much with other people, so people skills suffer. Then there was the forced isolation of the pandemic’s lockdowns, and things got worse. It’s very sad, and not good for society at all. Good for you for speaking up for yourself! I’ve been known to “woman spread” once or twice myself when I had to.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I think ‘some’ is the word I would use. Some people, not all. Sometimes I go out of my way to be overly sweet to such people. Chat them up. Wish them a wonderful day. But the girl with the back pack definitely would have gotten a push from me.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I honestly believe whether people are nice depends on geography. My parents grew up in the Northeast and they always talk about how much ruder people are out there. I have never lived in that part of the country so I can’t vouch for that. All I know is, from my own personal experience, I people in the Midwest are nice to a fault (there’s a reason “Midwest nice” is a phrase). If I were riding on a bus here and my glasses flew off, I’d have three or four other riders diving for them to be the first to return them to me – no exaggeration.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m a chronic helper. But I’m going to play Devil’s advocate on the glasses incident.

    It could very well be that the man was on the autism spectrum and/or germ phobic. My oldest grandson is mildly autistic and the idea of making eye contact with a stranger is horrifying to him.

    Now, the backpack woman? She needed a lesson in respecting personal space. You provided that

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I think we’re really tired, and these examples show it.

    I would’ve handed you your glasses, and I thought it was common courtesy/knowledge to take your backpack off, before sitting in a seat.

    Liked by 1 person

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