Riding Metro North. Seat Selection Psychology.

I’ve noticed.

It’s happened enough times, to notice. Is it only me that notices these things?

Typically off peak trains.

I’m early.

I take the window seat, in a three seater. Always a 3-seater. Always the window seat.

I don’t place my bag on the seat, a Welcome mat for other commuters.

Train car begins to fill.

Ladies. Men. All colors, sizes.

They take a quick glance.

And they pass.

They’ll crowd into a two seater across, in front, behind. Or a three seater in front, behind.

The car reaches capacity,  and he (or she) will approach,

look up and down the car,

and take the seat.

But why?

All of the seats already had an occupant, which meant I was going to have to position myself next to a stranger. In a different mood, I enjoyed this game: one had ten seconds to scan the occupants and select the slimmest, sanest, cleanest-looking person to sit next to. Choose wrongly, and the fifteen-minute journey into town would be a much less pleasant experience—either squashed beside a sprawling fatty, or mouth-breathing to minimize the penetration of the reek emanating from an unwashed body. Such was the excitement of traveling on public transport…I stared at the floor, my mind racing. Did I … did I look like the kind of person who ought to be avoided in a game of bus seat selection? I could only conclude, in the face of the evidence, that I did. But why?

~ Gail Honeyman, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.

Photo credit


  1. commuter roulette. they take what they consider their ‘best bet.’

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m an aisle person, myself – always an aisle. And always avoid the middle seat – I’ll stand. Yes, I’m a quick exit kinda gal.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anonymous says:

    I go for the windows too. I like to watch what’s on the outside.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, I wouldn’t mind sitting next to you, only only if you were in a talkative mood. 😊

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I like ‘commuter roulette’ and I too would sit next to you. 🙂

    Now, if the security guard in the photo was standing there all rigid, mask in place, fists clenched by his sides, I too would be very, very concerned about making the right decision!

    Liked by 1 person

    Everytime? Wow!

    I generally go to sit next to the face that says, “Nobody wants to sit by me, would you sit by me please?”

    Recently I just want a quiet corner and wish to be invisible, and near exit!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Wondering now, me a country girl, where I would sit and the toss of the coin that seems to be me. My vibe is either, come near, she’s a listener and she’s not scary or it’s repellent because of my enormous thought cloud overhead and the truth that lord have mercy, she’s gonna tell me more than I want to know.

    I’m smiling now over my self-awareness and likeness to Eleanor. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Metro, we stand…. they are far too çrowded at all times to be choosy!
    TGV (high speed train) seat reservation is compulsory…. I always take an isle seat, for not to climb over another person when wanting to go to bar coach or needing the toilets. Lesson one: always try not to need the wc…. they are disgusting.
    Switzerland: you politely ask ‘Is that seat free?´ And more often than not it’s fine. Not many smelly ppl, mostly agreeable.
    Today in tramway, a woman from Serbia spoke to me. I helped her with her journey and when I left, she offered me two pears….. small kindnesses, big smiles.

    Where the heck is my book? Still under the seat of my letter pigeon’s plane??

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t like sitting near strangers

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You should get proactive. You pick who you want to sit beside you. Watch them as they file on. When one looks like the one, give them your best smile. They’ll either think youre nuts and move on, or you got yourself a new friend. I’ve never ridden the subway. Its probably much more complicated than that. I could see myself feeling outgoing enough to do this twice a week, tops.
    Probably its safer to just mind your own business. Reminds me of my coffee stop I used to make on my way to work.
    At the QT’s, I saw the pretty girl that comes in all the time. She was up front at the register, so I didn’t stir the Splenda into my coffee, I just capped it and ran to the front, hoping that maybe I’d have a chance to give her my best “Good Morning” in my best voice. I’d never been in proximity to be able to do that before, and she’s very pretty, and maybe this would be my lucky day.
    So I came skidding up right behind her in line, and I froze like a stone. She was wearing that backless turquoise number layered with a sheer Ann Klein T underneath, which allowed me to see the outline of her lacy little pink bra. It’s a great gimmick, but the thing is…
    The 3″ long tag was hanging out the back of the turquoise top!
    I froze like a stone.
    What to do?
    Should I just step up and say ‘Let me help you with this, baby” and tuck the tag back into her shirt?
    Or should I just let it pass?
    Which do you think I did?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. if you could bring a mannequin with you on the train to sit next to you, would you pay for the extra ticket? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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