Train etiquette

Last weekend I had the delight of a train journey from Glasgow to Milton Keynes, with a change at Crewe with a husband, two children and luggage in tow.

Crowded train

When we got on the connection at Crewe the carriage was practically empty so we all sat down together. The minute our bums hit seats the corridor began to fill up behind us and it was at this point I realised that the seats we’d sat in were reserved but the notice didn’t state from where.

We were gathering our selves together to move but by this time the carriage was almost full and we’d be pushed for any empty seats.

Suddenly this piercing child’s voice cut through the din of settling passengers to announce, “I think you’ll find you are sitting in our reserved seats.”

I answered that I realised this and we’d be out of them in just a minute. We got up to let him, who was all of six years old, his sister who was around nine, his younger brother who looked about four and his mum and we scattered ourselves throughout the carriage.  My husband, elderly at 46 stood for most of the hour-long journey, then opted to sit with our four-year-old boy on his lap. A lady who walked with a stick due to an injured leg insisted on moving seats so that our 10-year-old daughter could sit next to me.

I remember when I was little I’d either have to sit on my mum’s knee or was made to stand on public transport to let an adult sit down. At the time the adult probably seemed decrepit but with hindsight they were probably upwards of 30.

When did this happen that we pay full price on a train for three children who would normally pay half, just so we can reserve a seat to relieve their poor tired wee legs? When did we stop putting wobbly and more easily broken adults first and give priority seating to our children?

What’s more is this a symptom of something much bigger than public transport seating etiquette? Is this a tiny part of the disintigration of respect for our elders?

Mibbes aye mibbes naw but the next time I’m on the bus or the train I’ll be stealing my child’s seat.


  1. April X J Pressley · November 17, 2011

    I don’t know when exactly it happened, but these days it has become accepted that children come first on every occasion. I’ve lost count of the parents who moan to me about some pretty essential things that they do without in order to buy what seems to me to be an endless, endless succession of transient playthings which will end up on landfill within the year. I hear of kids who refuse to wear any clothing without an expensive label. I know of parents who have to hide things that they buy for themselves in case their kids find out and kick up stink because they had been told that the school trip to America was too expensive.
    I listen to programmes on the radio talking about schoolkids’ rights to demand their school provides education in the way that the kids want. I hear the despair of good teachers who have to teach whole classfuls of demanding disrespectful children who have been taught that the word no does not apply to them, ever.
    Now, I’m pretty sure that when I was a kid, I’d have been every bit as bratty and demanding IF I HAD BEEN ALLOWED TO BE. Which I wasn’t- and I didn’t grow up bitterly hating my parents because I wasn’t, in fact I grew up understanding that I was lucky to have everything I needed, and never went to bed hungry.
    It all seems to have given kids an unwarranted sense of entitlement. Rights with no responsibilities. Which is why it would never occur to them to give up their seat for an adult.
    When these same kids grow up to realise that they are living in a planet which is badly and probably irretrievably damaged all for OUR pleasure (we give kids all this because it makes US happy, remember,) I think they might in fact be rather cross, to say the least.

    • carolynemitchell · November 17, 2011

      I couldn’t agree more April and as for toys ending up in landfill my previous post touched on that issue.
      It’s not that I want kids to be seen and not heard, or to return to some nostalgic version of childhood – I just want parents to teach them a bit of respect for themselves, others and the environment.
      That’s not too much to ask for is it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s