Members of a popular internet forum showed support for one woman who recounted the testy exchange she had with a fellow train passenger on her way to the airport.
In a viral Reddit post published on r/AmITheA**hole, Redditor u/controllingorkind (otherwise referred to as the original poster, or OP) said she was riding in a near-empty train car when a stranger made a fuss about not being able to sit in the seat directly next to her.
Titled, “[Am I the a**hole] for asking why a man wanted the seat next to me (instead of other empty seats)?” the viral post has received more than 10,000 votes and 1,500 comments in the last day.
Explaining that it was early in the morning, and that she was “juggling a suitcase, laptop bag, handbag, breakfast and coffee,” the original poster said she found an empty window seat in the middle of a train cabin and stowed her belongings in the seat next to her.
However, as the original poster began to eat her breakfast, she said a man walked into the cabin, past a myriad of empty seats and stopped directly in front of her before asking to sit in the seat containing her bags.
“I look confused but start moving things to free up space, sitting on top of my coat, knees almost in my ears to be able to squeeze my suitcase under my feet, put away the breakfast I won’t be able to have and have my two bags on my lap,” she wrote.
Instead of taking a nearby vacant seat, the original poster said the man waited for her to rearrange her possessions and sat next to her. As he sat down, the original poster said she asked just one question.
“I ask him: why this seat? The rest was empty and would have been easier and faster for both of us,” she wrote.
“He then goes on a rant that people should not be occupying seats for stuff instead of people – and gets enraged when I say I agree if the train is busy, but in this case it’s nearly empty,” she added.
Last year, the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Census Bureau, revealed that only 5 percent of commuting workers rely on public transit for their daily transportation.
However, large portions of the country’s metropolitan populations are entirely reliant on public transit. In New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Boston, more than 30 percent of commuters regularly take the train to and from work, according to data collected by WorldAtlas.
For commuters in these heavy-traffic areas, train etiquette is sometimes like an unspoken language, communicated silently by millions of passengers every day. Other times, what usually goes unsaid must be vocalized.
In the case of vacant seats in nearly-empty train cars, there are no official regulations determining who should sit where, and when they should sit there.
But according to numerous viral posts on Reddit, Facebook, Quora, other social media and the original poster’s comment section, sitting directly next to someone when other vacant seats are available is a known train taboo.
“If there’s plenty of open seats, it’s fine to use the extra seats for your stuff,” Redditor u/sandwhale- wrote in the post’s top comment, which has received nearly 19,000 votes.
“Chances are he either just wanted to start s**t or hit on you or something,” they added.
In a series of separate comments, a trio of Redditors speculated that the man made a scene about the original poster’s belongings occupying an empty seat simply because he could.
“He probably did it on purpose just to be that guy who makes a show about his stupid rants,” Redditor u/LadyMjolnir wrote.
“He was intentional in being a jerk to ‘teach you a lesson’ he thinks you need to learn,” Redditor u/Percentage_Express added. “But you didn’t need the lesson since there were plenty of empty seats elsewhere.”
“Some people are bored and bitter and love to create issues where there are none,” Redditor u/grianmharduit chimed in.