Sunday, February 17, 2008

On the train one day

This is a comment I made on one of High Riser's posts, and thought that it is worthy of it's own post.

One day on a train I sat down on the middle seat of group of three, someone was already at the window seat. Instantly I decided I was a bit cramped so I moved across to the aisle seat for more leg room. It was then that the person at the window spoke up and said, "it's OK I won't bite". I looked up, and he was an African man. I then realised that a few of the people in the surrounding seats were looking at me. I remember feeling quite embarrassed.

The comment was made in good humour, and I don't think he actually took offence at me moving seats. My action certainly wasn't made because of his skin colour, but I doubt a white or Asian person would make a comment such as this. I still think about this incident frequently when I'm on public transport. It is quite funny looking back at it.

I guess the point is that everything comes down to intent and perception. You're never going to get both to agree 100% of the time.


Andrew said...

Indeed it is worthy of being a post on its own Ben.

I recall a conversation with an old tram conductress many years ago. She gave her passenger his change in single five cent pieces. She explained to me that all conductors tried to get rid of excess coins because of the weight they had to carry. The passenger was a student, black and from South Africa she thought. He complained to her that all the conductors offload their small coins to him because he was coloured. Not true she told him, we get rid of them to the next customer at any time.

We are all a minority in some ways. But we are silly to be super sensitive about it.

Ben said...

That's OK, it now works the other way too, once or twice I've put $2 or $3 worth of 5 cent coins in metcard machines. When the payment goes in, it makes a satisfying "kerplunk" sound. They made them coin only, what do they expect...

Anonymous said...

Sounds very nerve-racking. People are so quick to judge a situation without having fully investigated the cause-effect.