Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Good Society

So I was in Penn Station (NYC, not Newark) on Saturday, and once again the experience was needlessly shitty because people crowded around the escalator down to the train platform rather than queuing. Actually, two lines formed, but they were nebulous and their intersection was a free-for-all.

Generally, the every-man-for-himself atmosphere is disgusting because it rewards bad behavior and pushes us into a race to the bottom. I was behind a large, elderly man who was moving deliberately along the train platform. People were darting around him so that they could get a good seat, it was insanely rude.

Later, on the train, a lady walked up and down the aisle looking for a seat, but several people pretended the (empty) seat next to them was taken, and she didn't have the tenacity to ask everyone. (I'm sure someone would have let her sit down if she had kept asking. I didn't offer her the seat next to me because I needed it for the book I was carrying with me but not reading at the moment.) Finally she found a seat.

 It really shows the upside of a society that has some fucking order.  There's the old legend about the elderly man looking for a seat at the Olympics. Everyone was like, "Go fuck yourself," but then when he got to the Spartan section they stood up simultaneously, moved a seat over, and offered him the newly open seat on the aisle.  [UPDATE:  might have it slightly wrong.  But so the Greeks were all like, "All Greeks know what is right, but only the Spartans do it."]

So, you know, we generally sympathize with more free-wheeling, less authoritarian societies, with good reason. But there are real costs to our disorder. If I ever need a seat on a train, I hope I'm in Germany or something. [UPDATE: not sure why this post is formatted as one big paragraph, working on it.]

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