Should I take pictures of kids who are legally required to stand on trains and email them to school principals?
February 17, 2009 2:44 PM   Subscribe

Should I take pictures of kids who are legally required to stand on public transport and email them to school principals? Can I do this? Is there any way you think I should approach it?

I live in a city in Australia where public transport is fairly cheap, efficient and rather popular. As a result we get lots of kids taking the train to school. A little while ago the state government instituted a 50c fare for all children taking public transport to school. One of the provisos was that they stand when the train is full. Long story short, packed train and two kids still sitting in their seats. It's not the first time either. Having a trusty iPhone I thought why not take their picture and email a picture of them sitting down in a packed carriage to the school with a "I'm quite disappointed in school x. I was hoping we taught our kids better manners than this."

I'm sure some people would applaud me but I'm a bit of a fraidy cat when it comes to confrontation. Should I just do it surreptitiously (my preferred method) or should I explain myself to them and exactly what I'm doing?

Or am I just being an over reactive prick and stop caring about it?
posted by Talez to Human Relations (64 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Or am I just being an over reactive prick?

Yes.
posted by halogen at 2:46 PM on February 17, 2009 [21 favorites]


Yes. Let it go.
posted by ericb at 2:47 PM on February 17, 2009


Have you ever asked the kids if they mind standing so other could sit?
posted by xotis at 2:47 PM on February 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm not sure I get this (not being that familiar with Australia, or its public transportation system). Why should children stand and not adults? Just because they are going to school? Because they are paying lesser fare? Needs clarification
posted by mrbarrett.com at 2:48 PM on February 17, 2009


Best answer: This is one of those situations where you smile and do an extra good deed to make up for the universe, rather than add negativity to it.
posted by thejoshu at 2:49 PM on February 17, 2009 [30 favorites]


Or am I just being an over reactive prick and stop caring about it?

From your tags, I infer that these are teens, not children. Given the number of teenagers who have made my commute unpleasant with shouting, fighting, playing music, throwing things, and crashing into people (me!), I'd say you're lucky all they're doing is sitting in the seats. I'm not saying you're an overreactive prick, but there are probably better and more compelling things to care about. (Of course, maybe American teens are inherently more obnoxious than Australian teens and my standards are skewed low now.)
posted by Meg_Murry at 2:50 PM on February 17, 2009


You might consider what attitude people in your society generally have to adults taking pictures of other people's children. A bit odd perhaps? Telling the kids to move is the rational approach to this.

If you can't get it together to tell them to move yourself then ask the guard to do something about it. If people are standing when they have the right to move the kids along but are too afraid to open their mouths then they deserve to be standing.

If its not you left standing then you are worrying about nothing.
posted by biffa at 2:52 PM on February 17, 2009


Response by poster: Because they are paying lesser fare?

Yes. They pay a flat 50c fare on school days (rather than a $1.50-$3.00 fare that a student would typically pay). The trade off was they are required to stand on public transport.
posted by Talez at 2:52 PM on February 17, 2009


Best answer: Yeah, surreptitiously taking pictures of children on the subway is a pretty bad idea. Approaching children on the subway and telling them you are going to take their picture might even be worse. I can't imagine that this "no seating" thing is a law. It sounds like a rule that the transit authority put in place. It's up to the transit authority to enforce it, if they choose. I really don't see the harm here, anyway. If it's that big of a problem, write a letter to the school but, for the love of god, don't take pictures of kids on the train.
posted by otolith at 2:52 PM on February 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Response by poster: Yeah. I'll either tell them they should be standing or just let it go. Thanks all.
posted by Talez at 2:54 PM on February 17, 2009


I'm not trying to be mean here, but you're being petty.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it's altogether possible that the sitting kids have disabilities or injuries that make standing and balancing during a train ride painful or impossible.
posted by kitty teeth at 2:59 PM on February 17, 2009 [10 favorites]


a) You don't know the circumstances of why they were still sitting. They could be new in town and not yet know about the provision, or they could be slightly disabled and unable to stand on a jostling train for the duration of the trip, or any number of other reasons.
b) Schools can't educate kids on everything and have it actually stick. I never had a class on manners and proper etiquette. That's something which is traditionally done by parents and other unofficial mentors.
c) Next time, maybe consider asking them politely, and gently explain the rational if they're reluctant. Unless they're stupid or douchbags, they'll probably free-up the seats and it will be a useful lesson for them which hopefully they will remember next time.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 3:02 PM on February 17, 2009


Wow, that's one seriously screwed up piece of ageist policy. The spirit of it makes sense, in that it helps children's families afford to send their children to school, but the application is disturbing because it underlines how much people like to write children off as second class citizens. These children are pretty much required to go to school to get an education, often with the threat of parents losing legal custody to fail to educate them (and thus must walk or use the means of transport adults leave open to them), and if they don’t make a gesture of inferiority they have bad manners.

Now I suppose the able bodied must give way to the disabled and infirm, but if that's your concern, teach by example instead of wringing your hands about kids who sit.
posted by Phalene at 3:02 PM on February 17, 2009 [10 favorites]


I went to a private school in Australia where we constantly were reminded to stand on the train because 'so and so has sent a complaint to the school'. Cue eye-rolling from students, and no change in behaviour. It won't change a thing.

If I want to sit in the morning, I used to sometimes ask students on the innner west line in Sydney to move over a little. Often they would take up a group of seats but there'd be plenty of room. But most of the time, I don't have a long trip so I stand.
posted by wingless_angel at 3:11 PM on February 17, 2009


Phalene - I should add it is the policy everywhere on public transport in Australia that children and teens stand for adults if there are no seats, as a rather over-extended courtesy to one's seniors. Never enforced of course.
posted by wingless_angel at 3:14 PM on February 17, 2009


You can write the letter to the school without the photo. This may prompt a reminder to be read at assembly, or some similar response.

I prefer a bland reminder or no action because it's in the public good that kids find it affordable to take public transport to school, and if the costs of that good include a small amount of rule-breaking regarding seats, I'd think it's still a worthwhile trade. So long as frail people who need seats are seated.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:18 PM on February 17, 2009


Heh. Wow, ageist policy?
I can say that, in Brisbane at least, there're signs everywhere on all public transport about concession fares (students) having to yield their seat to a full-fare-paying member of the public. This has been the law for at least twenty years here. Ignorance is not an excuse, and students can actually be fined ($150? something like that) for not standing for an adult.

Given how over-crowded our trains are -- people don't exaggerate when they liken them to tokyo sardine trains -- and how reluctant students _are_ to stand for even the elderly, infirm, and pregnant, hell yes I tell them to stand up. "Shouldn't you be standing?" works quite well for me, and elicits appropriate responses.

I definitely wouldn't photograph them, though.
posted by coriolisdave at 3:18 PM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I thought why not take their picture and email a picture of them sitting down in a packed carriage to the school

Dunno how things are in Oz, but here's why not in the USA:

Because, as a man taking a photo of a minor, you would be assumed to be a pervert, pedophile, sexual predator, slavering rapist, and perhaps even ABBA fan. Because you might well have a pointed discussion with cops, and your claim that you were going to email the photos to their school would sound like bullshit.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:22 PM on February 17, 2009


Ugh, this is the kind of overthought rule that is far more trouble than it's worth, making beggars at the table out of the kids and entitled authoritarians out of the adult riders. If they hadn't added the proviso that the kids have to stand, you wouldn't waste a second caring about it, like the people in all the other countries where the schoolkids get heavily subsidized fares without having to stand. I'd recommend being irked at your transport system administration for stealing your peace of mind, and focusing on the fact that the majority of the kids seem to follow the rule even if it's ill-conceived.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 3:24 PM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ditto'ing coriolisdave, and in the same city. I don't really care about myself and possess the strength and constitution and fortitude to, y'know, stand up on the train, but if a bunch of people are seatless because students are lounging around all over the place with their iPods screwed into their ears, studiously avoiding looking in the direction of the full-fare people standing up, then, yeah, I generally get their attention and suggest they vacate their seats.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:26 PM on February 17, 2009


Wow, that's one seriously screwed up piece of ageist policy

No, it's really not. Where I went to school in Australia, semester train tickets were free for students (between the home station and the school station), and there were signs on the train saying "Scholars should relinquish their seats for fare-paying passengers". And they did - because everyone (public and private school students alike) wore uniforms, so it was easy to tell which school the infractors attended, and a phone call to the school was enough to deal with the issue (with info about the train line and time, rough age and a brief description). A 50c fare is practically the equivalent of free, and young people with heavily subsidised fares should give up their seats to full-fare-paying passengers.

I feel really old and regrettably 'get off my lawn' in saying this, but I noticed the difference when I moved to London (free student tickets but no concomitant reminders). You, as a full-fare-paying passenger, are subsidising these scholars' seats, so I think you're well within your rights to at least contact the school about it.
posted by goo at 3:29 PM on February 17, 2009


Ugh, this is the kind of overthought rule that is far more trouble than it's worth, making beggars at the table out of the kids and entitled authoritarians out of the adult riders.
See, I really don't think it is. I think it's a holdover (a good holdover) from the age where a law like this wasn't even necessary. Respect for elders and all that jazz.

Unfortunately, in this current culture, respect seems awful hard to come by, in any way, shape, or form.
posted by coriolisdave at 3:34 PM on February 17, 2009


And, on non-preview - tugid dahlia and coriolisdave know what I'm talking about!
posted by goo at 3:34 PM on February 17, 2009


In my teens, on a bus, I was once politely asked by an older man if I would give up my "won't you please save this seat for the elderly or disabled?" seat for him. I didn't feel discriminated against. I felt embarrassed, as I'd forgotten to do so without being asked.

Politely remind the students. However, if there are people who seem like they need the seat more than you do, they should be getting the seat, not you. IE, "Excuse me, but I think this older gentleman or this parent holding a child could use a seat. Do you mind?"
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:49 PM on February 17, 2009


How do you know these students paid a lower fare? Maybe they paid full price so that they'd have the right to sit. Unless the law prohibits students from paying a higher fare, you have no way of knowing how much a given passenger paid.

You also don't know that any given student doesn't have a twisted ankle, an inner ear imbalance, or some other infirmity that makes standing difficult or impossible.

Either of these scenarios may seem unlikely, but you have no way of knowing which of the students you see fall into the small minority for which they may be true.

If you require their seats, ask them to move. If you really feel the need to do something to get them in trouble, ask a member of the transit authority staff to inquire as to their circumstances. But it's really none of your business to figure out who paid how much money and who needs to sit down most.
posted by decathecting at 3:49 PM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


And re-reading the OP's original question - I think an iPhone photo emailed to the school would be appropriate in the situation you describe - certainly no different to the phone calls I've heard other people make, just with photographic evidence instead of a verbal description.
posted by goo at 3:50 PM on February 17, 2009


Gah - pressed post too soon! You should only contact the school should occur after you've politely asked the students to move, and they've ignored you.
posted by goo at 3:53 PM on February 17, 2009


I live in Australia and have always given my seat up for anyone pregnant, elderly, frail, injured, tired, etc., and still do. I went to a private school and was taught to stand for any adult, which I duly did at the time, but I still think is ridiculous and a hangover from when children were supposed to be seen and not heard. I don't think a lower fare should have anything to do with it - kids have less money, like any other concession ticket holder. If it's just about a lower price = a lesser service, can I pay the 50c and relinquish my right to a seat please? And yeah, maybe it's a rule, but who made you the transport/manners police?

Plus, school kids often have extremely heavy schoolbags to carry, and half the time musical instruments or sporting equipment as well. Maybe you should get past your 'right' to their seat, and consider the fact that possibly they need to sit more than you do. Anyway, unless you're right near them, you can't know that they haven't offered their seats to those around them and been refused.

As a student I had some adults be really rude to me in relation to this rule. I once had an old lady get on with her friend, and before I had a chance to offer my seat, she pointed at me and said to her friend 'you can sit there' as if I didn't even exist. Being rudely paternalistic like this to kids is not an approach that encourages respect for other people/adults, and taking photos and writing letters is the same kind of thing.

If you must insist, don't be horrible about it. Treat them as you would any other human being, and just ask them politely if you can have their seat. They'll probably say yes. If they're rude about it, then you could write a letter, though I would still think you were a busybody for doing it, and I doubt it would change anything.

...hmm. I've gotten a bit snippy here. Sorry! This kind of thing makes me quite cross!
posted by Emilyisnow at 3:54 PM on February 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


And, good lord, I'm messy in my typing tonight! Please ignore extraneous 'should occur' in my previous comment.
posted by goo at 3:56 PM on February 17, 2009


I still think is ridiculous and a hangover from when children were supposed to be seen and not heard

I disagree - it's an acknowledgement that younger people are more likely to be able to stand, and that the distances travelled by school students are likely to be less than those travelled by commuters, in addition to the subsidised fares.

Your instruments and bag should go between your feet or under the seat, whether you're sitting or standing. That shouldn't have anything to do with politeness on public transport (says the girl who rode her bike, towing a bassoon on a luggage trailer, 3km each way (uphill on the way home) every day for three years!).
posted by goo at 4:06 PM on February 17, 2009


Just call their school and report the behaviour of these students. Taking pictures isn't necessary.
posted by minus zero at 4:10 PM on February 17, 2009


When I went to school (in Adelaide), some of us were a bit noisy on the train, and a commuter told the school. Since there were only a few of us who actually caught this train, we were found and got a telling off. No actual punishment though.

In hindsight, I applaud the actions of the commuter and school. The school valued it's reputation, and wanted it's students to behave in an appropriate manner.

I certainly wouldn't take photos, but a phone call (or email) to the school wouldn't be completely out of line. Personally, I'd wait for something more egregious though, like failing to stand for an elderly person, before making the effort. They won't get into too much trouble without photographic evidence, but I'd bet even money that the message would be relayed in the school assembly (particularly if you're not the only person commenting).
posted by kisch mokusch at 4:12 PM on February 17, 2009


I think if I were to complain, it would be to the train service.

If I bought a first class ticket on an airplane, but couldn't sit in my seat because all the folks who paid for coach, with the agreement that they would sit in coach, were filling up first class, I would complain to the airline, as they were the one's who took on my financial agreement and the coachers' financial agreement.

If I bought a SRO ticket to a play, I would, um, stand.
posted by Vaike at 4:22 PM on February 17, 2009


Tell the school. Don't take pictures. I don't think they would want them anyway. They will certainly take your word for it without photographic evidence. If I worked at the school, I would think it was kind of going overboard to take photos of the kids standing. It might seem creepy to those who see you take the pictures, also.
posted by fructose at 4:23 PM on February 17, 2009


it's an acknowledgement that younger people are more likely to be able to stand
Than who?
If we're indeed talking teenagers, this isn't even true. I can now (almost 50) stand more easily during a bus trip than when I was 14, dizzy from school and growing like bamboo in spring. There must be loads of studies about adolescence, stamina and society expectations. The quoted rule appears to be based on ancient beliefs and is, in my opinion, utterly stupid. And taking pictures ... hrmhmm.
- well, actually I really loved the "Universe" answer by thejoshu. Let's smile it away.
posted by Namlit at 4:31 PM on February 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is a stupid rule, and is bound to fail regardless of whether or not you take pictures. Just let it go, and convince the transit agency to add more trains so that all their customers are accommodated.

Also, how do you know the "kids" that aren't standing didn't pay a full fare?
posted by jrockway at 4:34 PM on February 17, 2009


Telling the school is less creepy but still pretty petty. When I was at high school in Sydney (in the city), we had extensive school rules about public transport behaviour, including giving up our seats to adults if the train/bus/ferry was full. Every week at assembly there would be an announcement about staff wanting to talk to 'anyone who was on the 389 bus on Tuesday afternoon', etc. This was inevitably to cop a bollocking as a result of a complaint from some passenger who had nothing better to do with their time than voluntarily enforce school rules.

If you want to be one of those people, then knock yourself out. But taking photos is really going a step too far.
posted by impluvium at 4:38 PM on February 17, 2009


Heh. Wow, ageist policy?
I can say that, in Brisbane at least, there're signs everywhere on all public transport about concession fares (students) having to yield their seat to a full-fare-paying member of the public.


There are concession fares for the over 60s in most places, too. Should a healthy 65 year automatically have to give up his seat to a 30 year old paying full fare?

And taking photos would push way into petty/creepy territory for me, quite frankly. It's one thing to remind people to give up their seat when they ought to. Photographs are getting into obsessive and obnoxious.
posted by rodgerd at 4:54 PM on February 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Having a trusty iPhone I thought why not take their picture and email a picture of them sitting down in a packed carriage to the school with a "I'm quite disappointed in school x. I was hoping we taught our kids better manners than this."

This is seriously the most passive-aggressive, insanely petty, worst, most embarrassing thing I can remember reading in AskMe for months. No, you shouldn't take pictures of teenagers sitting (the horror!) and send them to their principals. Sometimes you get a seat, sometimes you don't. This is the reality of public transportation, whether it's Australia or America or Antarctica. And if you're not elderly or infirm or pregnant, you have even less reason to care.

I mean, if your question was "should I take pictures of kids who are stabbing my fellow passengers," then yeah, I get you. But being upset because their fare was discounted and they have the temerity to sit? For reals?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:02 PM on February 17, 2009


I'm fairly sure there's a distinction made (up here, at least) between a "student concession" ticket and a "pensioner" ticket. Certainly, in line with my "respect" schtick, I (an almost-30 year old full-fare-paying train user) give up my seat for the elderly. And the pregnant.

Those kids, though? They can get off my damned lawn seat, and get their bags outta the damn doorway too!

Dude, optimus. You reckon this is petty? There's a free daily newspaper handed out around these parts specifically for commuters. It has a letters section. The absolute, total, most petty embarrassing letters to that paper are the HUGE, weeks-long (months-long!) arguments from hundreds of commuters about whether students should give up their seat for the elderly, infirm, and pregnant. Seriously. The bile is palpable.

posted by coriolisdave at 5:07 PM on February 17, 2009


Mod note: few comments removed - this is getting a little far afield, please take metacommentary to metatalk
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:19 PM on February 17, 2009


This is seriously the most passive-aggressive, insanely petty, worst, most embarrassing thing I can remember reading in AskMe for months

Well you've got some archives to read, because you're behind!

If the OP has politely asked the students to move, and if there is an official policy about students on subsidised fares not taking seats when full-fare-paying-passengers are standing, then they have every right to complain.

There are concession fares for the over 60s in most places, too. Should a healthy 65 year automatically have to give up his seat to a 30 year old paying full fare?

No, that's ridiculous, which I think you know.
posted by goo at 5:44 PM on February 17, 2009


I'm young and have physical trouble standing on public transportation, though you wouldn't know it to look at me. I've been chewed out for not giving up my seat. I realize it doesn't always apply, but it's something to keep in mind when you get frustrated at sitters.

Meanwhile, a non-aggressive "Would you mind standing?" is both effective and gives one a chance to say "I can't." It also seems like a much better example for kids than just reporting people to get them in trouble.
posted by mail at 5:58 PM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


"There are concession fares for the over 60s in most places, too. Should a healthy 65 year automatically have to give up his seat to a 30 year old paying full fare?"

-----

"I'm fairly sure there's a distinction made (up here, at least) between a "student concession" ticket and a "pensioner" ticket."
coriolisdave is right; while the concession fare & ticket on QR is the same for both students and pensioners, IIRC the signage & regulations both say something like "students travelling on concessions fares must not occupy seats while adults are standing and no other seats are available" - and, from what I remember of both NSW & Vic, it's much the same. Not to mention that QR gives a further concession (taking the fare down to 1/3 normal child fare, IIRC) to schoolchildren who buy a 12-month pass for use on schooldays.

As a 40+ year old student travelling on a concession pass, I'm somewhat torn between telling them "get off the lawn and let the pregnant lady sit" and resting my weary old bones myself ('cos, honestly, who's going to suspect I'm travelling on a concession?). But, to tell the truth, if the train is so crowded that people have to stand, then personally I prefer to stand. Don't like sitting jammed up with other people, y'see?

And, as a note, I've seen many more little old ladies offer up their seat to pregnant women than I have seen schoolkids travelling on concessions (verified by the different colour card & indication on the card reader) - do the same. Mind you, I've seen more old ladies, filthy drunks, and blue-collar workers offer up their seat in that situation than I have seen suited businessmen do the same too...

Finally, as someone who hears a lot of day-to-day minutiae of school life from teacher family & friends: don't take photos, but ring the school & tell them the details - line, time, and, if you can do it, a rough description of the students. It's fairly normal for them to do a general reminder to all students several times through the year, remind students travelling on a particular line of their obligations* (yes, obligation - it's a legal condition of travel on those tickets), and even discipline them if they can be identified - remember, the school has a certain extent of legal responsibility for them & their behaviour while travelling between home & school.

(* What the hell is with all the "the kid paid a fare, they're entitled to a seat" crap popping up here? The kid's paying a special fare, with special conditions attached - and isn't the adult entitled to just a bit of respect as well? I'm not talking some OTT "you're a child, so you must accede to my every trivial whim" entitlement on the part of adults, just the normal everyday grease-society's-wheels respect...)

And you really don't want to get me started on the lardbuckets who seem to think that, just because their arse takes up two seats, their rucksack and bag of McDonalds are entitled to another seat each. Usually while sitting right under the "no eating or drinking" signs too...)

posted by Pinback at 6:06 PM on February 17, 2009


Okay, this is why attempts to legislate good manners always fall a little short. But you seem to me to be perhaps over-concerned with the letter of the law over the spirit of it. Are 90% of kids following the rules? Well, then, that's pretty great. I'm sure there are adults who are sitting on packed trains despite the presence of elderly, or disabled passengers, too, but you're not tempted to take pictures of them to report to the transit authority.

If you feel really strongly, then give them a look and take a chance at shaming 'em into good behavior by asking them to yield their seat to this person [pick a standing adult, preferably elderly, exhausted-looking, pregnant, holding shopping bags, etc.]
posted by desuetude at 6:08 PM on February 17, 2009


Are 90% of kids following the rules? Well, then, that's pretty great.

No. Not even close. In fact, my usual morning train is usually full of standing adults (often elderly, some BLIND) and sitting schoolkids. I'd etimate probably 70% of kids are sitting. Possibly higher. And not a single one this year has stood up for an adult without being prompted.

I can think of one (1) student who did in the last six months of last year, and he was on crutches.
posted by coriolisdave at 7:03 PM on February 17, 2009


How do we know that the students didn't pony up for a full fare?
posted by Wild_Eep at 7:24 PM on February 17, 2009


In Australia, schoolchildren are required to stand for adults on public transport. There are written notices to this effect on the public transport systems in the four states I have been in. These notices, and other public transport rules, are legally binding and in all cases the child is liable for a fine if an inspector feels like it. It must suck that you Americans are busy hiding from the kids who stab each other on your trains, but Australia is not like that, and we're pretty ok with that.

Adults who are sitting on a seat marked as 'priority for elderly or disabled' would be subject to the same penalty. An adult in a regular seat would not be, as there is no rule for this.

Further info for people unfamiliar with the situation they are commenting on: most public transport systems in Aust do not have a continuous guard/conductor presence.

It is not unreasonable, or (IME) uncommon for an adult to ask a schoolkid to stand. They are, as mentioned above, easy to spot because they wear uniforms. In the case where the kid has some invisible disability, it is quite ok for them to say so. For instance my brother was asked to stand occasionally while suffering a torn knee ligament, and refused (with varying degrees of politness depending on the attitude of the asker). In the much more common scenario where the kid is sitting because he wants to, they should stand.

Society made each member a part of it's 'manners police' when it decided that it had some kind of standard of manners/behaviour. Adults, as senior members of society, are in general expected to inform children of the expectations it has.

To the question: I wouldn't bother taking a photo, if you recognise the school uniform, just write to the school and say when it was. Especially private schools, but most better public schools, will do something. On the other hand, I think you should definitely ask them to give up their seats before taking any other action.
posted by jacalata at 7:30 PM on February 17, 2009


As to 'how do we know they didn't pay full fare' - I am 110% positive that any student who had done so would produce the ticket in refusal if asked to stand. I am 99% positive that no student has ever considered doing this.(For various reasons, including the fact that in most cases, if a kid catches public transport to school they will get a longterm ticket, paying the concession fare for it, and simply have the right to travel for x period of time (1 month, 1 year) as a concession holder.)
posted by jacalata at 7:33 PM on February 17, 2009


Oh man, I hate to tell you this, but this question is like, on page five of Reddit. Congrats!
posted by Bageena at 7:53 PM on February 17, 2009


When you see a student give up a seat on public transport, thank them. Some kids, maybe some percentage of kids, go through a rebellious phase, and will sit no matter what. But many kids will have their courteous behavior reinforced if they are noticed & praised. Do they wear uniforms? Calling a school with an anti-complaint of "I see so many students standing so that an adult may sit" would be worth it just to for the reaction.

"Hey you kids get off those seats" is apparently the Aus. version of "Hey you kids get off my lawn" Truly, there are more important battles.
posted by theora55 at 7:58 PM on February 17, 2009


It must suck that you Americans are busy hiding from the kids who stab each other on your trains, but Australia is not like that, and we're pretty ok with that.

Not sure where this came from? Here is the US, I just ask kids (and able-bodied adults) to move when they're not giving up their seat to people that they should, rather than skulking about with a cameraphone.
posted by desuetude at 8:06 PM on February 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'd say you're lucky all they're doing is sitting in the seats. I'm not saying you're an overreactive prick, but there are probably better and more compelling things to care about. (Of course, maybe American teens are inherently more obnoxious than Australian teens)

I'm not sure I get this (not being that familiar with Australia, or its public transportation system).

Dunno how things are in Oz, but here's why not in the USA:

I mean, if your question was "should I take pictures of kids who are stabbing my fellow passengers," then yeah, I get you.

I can't imagine that this "no seating" thing is a law.

and so on. You should have seen what the unedited version said about Americans.
posted by jacalata at 8:24 PM on February 17, 2009


And finally

Calling a school with an anti-complaint of "I see so many students standing so that an adult may sit" would be worth it just to for the reaction.

My aunt, and a number of other adults I know, are school principals. They have not uncommonly received phone calls or letters mentioning how impressed the person was with X behaviour by their students. The school is the obvious point of contact for a child in a clear uniform - it is commonly understood, and emphasised at the schools, that a student in uniform is representing their school.
posted by jacalata at 8:29 PM on February 17, 2009


It's sad that a law has been created that criminalizes youth who sit on trains, and that now people are practically ready to deputize themselves to enforce the law. Are the kids bothering you or anyone else? Are people who are physically in need of seats unable to do so because of these incorrigible sitting teens? If not, I would just mind my own business and leave the kids alone. Let the conductor deal with it, if s/he notices it and deems it an actionable offense.
posted by Piscean at 9:36 PM on February 17, 2009


Are people who are physically in need of seats unable to do so because of these incorrigible sitting teens?
Yes. And that's what we're talking about. From the original question: One of the provisos was that they stand when the train is full. Long story short, packed train and two kids still sitting in their seats. It's not the first time either.
Please note words "full" and "packed".

Let the conductor deal with it, if s/he notices it and deems it an actionable offense.
As previously pointed out -- there _is_ no conductor. Personally, I find it sad that it is at all necessary that people need to self-deputize themselves in order to educate children about the appropriate manner to behave in public -- noone should _need_ to be told to stand for a pregnant woman / cripple / elderly member of society. It should just happen.

But it doesn't. And if we don't even attempt to correct the behaviour, then we're tacitly condoning it. And that shall not stand!

pun only slightly intended ;)
posted by coriolisdave at 10:05 PM on February 17, 2009


Personally, I find it sad that it is at all necessary that people need to self-deputize themselves in order to educate children about the appropriate manner to behave in public -- noone should _need_ to be told to stand for a pregnant woman / cripple / elderly member of society. It should just happen.

No, but this is how social standards work. Your mom and dad telling you what to do only goes so far, it's important (though not always practiced), but it needs to be reinforced as "normal" by everyone else.
posted by desuetude at 10:33 PM on February 17, 2009


I can understand your frustration. I live in Tokyo with my 8-months-pregnant wife, and when we ride the trains sometimes I want to blow my stack. There're priority seats for the elderly, handicapped, and pregnant. When my wife gets on and her HUGE belly pokes out at people sitting in those (or really any) seat, the old women invariably get up and insist she sit down. Only old women do this. Men of all ages and young people pretend not to see, or never bother to notice, which they should if they're in a priority seat. The times this has happened in my presence, I leaned over and politely asked if my wife could sit, and people agreed to, though somewhat reluctantly. One time I was drunk and started calling them names, after which one woman got up and let my wife sit in her spot, and I felt like a shitheel.

You could write a letter to the school, but don't take any pictures, dear God, what a bad idea. The school will probably ignore it, so keep writing several times until you get a response.

And ultimately, if the kids sitting in the seat pisses you off, just ask them if they would stand up.
posted by zardoz at 10:36 PM on February 17, 2009


Seconding PhoBWanKenobi, turgid dahlia, and others in the same vein; you'd be in the right to ask them to please kindly give up their seats. Not being too far removed from teenagehood, I phrase it like this when I'm in the situation: "hey dude, do you think you could give up your seat for this gentleman/lady? thanks man."

tweak as you will.
posted by demagogue at 12:07 AM on February 18, 2009


Mod note: a few more comments removed - please take what you do and do not like about australian public transpo to email or metatalk
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:51 AM on February 18, 2009


Though I think it makes perfect sense for someone traveling on a concession fare to have slightly inferior service (see above metaphors regarding coach and business class), this entire attitude of resentment and entitlement created by this rule bothers me. Yeah, you're probably in the right in thinking you shouldn't have to ask a teenager to stand up, but what harm is caused to you in the asking? Why all this bitterness of "oh, they never take the initiative and thus deserve to be derided at every turn"? They're teenagers, not unrepentant scabs on society. The more you paint them with one brush of "ungrateful wretch" the less incentive they'll have to prove you wrong.
posted by Phire at 6:15 AM on February 18, 2009


Does the school have jurisdiction over student behaviour when they're on the train? If not, then this tactic would not only be ineffective, but would paint you the fool as well. This isn't a discipline issue, it's one where the kids need to be led to the idea that standing up is the right thing to do, rather than the thing to do because of fear for a photo-snitch who might tell on them.

I'd also encourage you to think about the future that this action helps create: do you really want these kids to run your country someday, having been taught that the smallest infraction will be photographed by fellow citizens and used to shame them? Imagine your elderly years under the care of people raised to think that way, how they'd photograph you when you don't finish your food, or take your pills, and use that evidence to shame you.
posted by holycola at 8:02 AM on February 18, 2009


Just to prove that all Americans don't have reading comprehension problems, I agree with the majority of Australian respondents here: Sack up and ask the kids to stand. I've done this on trains in DC where we have seats designated for elderly and disabled people, and I suspect our teenagers are a bit more intimidating that yours.

"I'm a bit of a fraidy cat when it comes to confrontation."

It doesn't have to be a confrontation, just be polite and direct. "Would you mind standing? It's quite crowded." What's the worst that can happen?

If you're not able to muster up that much courage, you have bigger problems than tired legs.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:31 AM on February 18, 2009


Look, it takes a village to raise a child. Situations like this are your chance to do your part for these children. Just ask them politely to vacate their seats and they most likely will. If they refuse for no good reason then a complaint may be justified. IMO this is what people should do most times they have a complaint with someone instead of trying to bring in an authority to do it for them.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 9:14 AM on February 18, 2009


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