Bag Ladies and Bus Rage

It was in danger of turning into the bus journey from hell, several passengers glaring at each other, others quietly seething. Yet it had all started out so smoothly: a routine trip from the city centre to the suburbs; shoppers of all ages clutching their packages; a rare British sunny day, all was well with the world. Until, that is, an encounter between two of my fellow passengers.
The pleasant weather had brought out more Derbeians than usual at that time of day and the bus was almost full. Anxious to sit down as quickly as possible, one woman spotted an empty seat beside a window, just in front of me.
When I say empty, it was occupied by a huge paper bag; the kind you get from designer boutiques, the kind with a tiny and light and very expensive purchase inside. It would certainly have been no burden for the person who had plopped it there to place it on her lap. Or at least you wouldn’t have thought so. As it happened, that person was a young lady, although there was nothing remotely ladylike about her reaction when the other passenger politely asked her to remove the bag so she might sit down.
She stared at the woman as if she’d just suggested she cut off her own arm, while, all around her, astonished passengers (some still waiting to sit down further along the bus) looked on.
Surely she wouldn’t refuse? Well, no, she didn’t; but only after an exaggerated roll of the eyes and an audible sigh did she theatrically stand up, lift the bag, move to the seat beside her and sit down with the bag on her lap.
By this time those waiting were getting more than a little impatient. They were also getting hot because the bus’s heating was switched on full blast, carbon footprint be damned, apparently.
As one male passenger was finally able to pass, he directed an extremely rude remark at the girl with the apparently immovable bag. Another female passenger, with whom he had now drawn level, assumed he was addressing her and turned to insult him back. Fortunately, for the remainder of the journey the pair limited themselves to exchanging angry glares.
As it turned out, the young lady with the bag hadn’t yet finished exercising her right to be stroppy. As we approached her stop, she stood, barked: “Getting off here!” at her neighbour and shoved her aside, accidentally whacking three or four people with her designer carrier on her way to the front.
Of course, selfishness is a sad trait in people of every generation and by no means only the preserve of teenagers. I’ve seen as many older people push in, or grumble about standing, as I have younger ones refuse to stand up.
I have to admit that I don’t automatically stand up for everyone. I like to think I’m pretty egalitarian and use a simple rule of thumb: if someone, whatever their age or their reason, is less able or more inconvenienced to stand than I am, then they are welcome to my seat. Otherwise I stay put. I don’t expect men to stand up for me, nor children for that matter. But I’m not insulted if they offer; and believe me I’ve been on the receiving end of that one.
Nor, should I come to be a hale and hearty pensioner, shall I complain when a teenager doesn’t jump to their feet for me. I have a feeling, though, that one young lady might.
Because, while most people are always polite, friendly and considerate of others – and we wouldn’t notice incidents like this if they weren’t – some people don’t give it a second thought. And that’s a shame because it’s those people we remember and by whom we judge everyone else of their generation.