Sunday, February 22, 2009

The limits of helpful advice 2

On the bus there was a conspiracy of silence over a wet seat. A woman got on, sat down and quickly sprang up again saying ‘urrghh, this seat is all wet’. When someone else got on and went to sit in the same seat everyone remained silent. The possible reasons for this (in my head at least) are:

1. We thought the first woman was probably a bit mad and there was nothing wrong with the seat
2. The seat wasn’t really wet but perhaps just felt a bit cold or something, so the woman wasn’t mad but mistaken
3. We all really wanted to see a stranger get a wet bottom
4. We were all too embarrassed to say ‘excuse me, but I wouldn’t sit there if I were you as a women who has just moved from there thought it was wet
5. No-one understood what the woman had said
6. No-one was confident that if they did say anything it would be understood as you never know what languages might be understood on the 49 (there are a lot of ‘em – languages, not number 49s)
7. Everyone was expecting someone else to say something
8. Everyone thought the woman who had moved should take responsibility for telling everyone the seat was wet.

As for myself, I go for 4, 6, 7 and 8. Someone else did sit on the seat and didn’t say or do anything to indicate that the seat was wet. After they got off I gave it a feel – it was really quite wet. I left a Metro on it. Least I could do.

I begin to understand how those stories of people being murdered in public with everyone watching without doing anything work.

No comments: