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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Respect Your Fellow Commuter


JFK/UMass Station.

As we get closer to the holiday season, which is supposed to bring out the kindness and charity in us all, I am noticing more acts of “non-kindness,” especially on my daily commute. In fact, regardless of what form of transportation I take, I would be hard pressed to find examples of kindness and charity from my fellow commuters.

I am frustrated with the lack of human decency I see, especially between strangers. Put aside your fear of “stranger danger” folks, and respect your fellow commuters. I’m sure I’m not the only one with horror stories from my daily commute.

A few Mondays ago, I managed to snag an earlier bus than usual. This was a nice change of pace—I only know the pick-up times for the bus I usually take—until an old man on the bus had a heart attack.

The bus was crowded, usual for the early morning commute, and while I was only worried about the older gentleman, everyone else seemed to be more concerned with getting to their stop. Some people managed to restrain their impatience in favor of common decency, and someone was even kind enough to give the elderly man their seat. This was after the EMT’s came to check him out, which only took about 20 minutes.

In those 20 minutes, though, there was one person with gall enough to creep their way to the front of the bus and ask the driver, “Are we gonna be waiting a while?”

Excuse me?

When I heard the thud of the old man falling as the doors behind him opened, I was beside myself, barely able to breathe as it all unfolded. This person, though, was only worried about how their commute was being affected.

Selfish, to say the least.

I understand why that person asked that question though. Commuting is no fun and can sometimes be downright stressful, that’s for sure. But still.

Another Monday prior, I heard a woman’s story about how she asked a girl waiting for a bus what time it would arrive. The girl ignored her and continued listening to her music. The woman happened to be hitting the pavement for jobs after a few tough breaks. She had recently had open heart surgery and lost her son. The girl could not have known this, I’m well aware of that, but even small gestures of kindness can go a long way when someone is going through a tough time.

I don’t think that common courtesy has ever been the norm on the T or on city buses, but it seems like some parts of the year are worse than others. The title of an October 2012 article on Boston.com says all that we need to know: “For MBTA riders, the worst part of commute is other MBTA riders.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. In this world, in this life, a little positivity never hurt anybody. Doing something for a stranger, your fellow commuting citizen on the bus or train, might be the thing that makes their day. So, next time you see somebody walking up to you at the bus stop, give them the time of day.