'Excuse Me. May I Have Your Seat?'
Recommended to me by the lovely omnivory, this article is about a psychological experiment done several decades ago where participants had to ask strangers on public transportation to give up their seats, and see how many were willing.
The interesting thing about the article is how participants describe that they felt sick to their stomach while asking – almost to the point of actually needing the seat. They talk about how odd it feels to go against a social norm like that and how uncomfortable they were. Many of them couldn’t even finish the project.
I like this article because it shows that asking for a seat is not easy – even if you need one. When you have an invisible disability, no one is going to give their seat up without being asked; you need to be direct and tell someone that you need to sit down. What many people don’t realize is how embarrassing and difficult this can be. I’ve exaggerated a subtle limp while boarding a bus so that I can get a seat without having to talk to anyone. I’ve also spent bus rides standing, when I really should be taking weight off my legs, because I was too embarrassed to ask anyone for a seat – I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.
I’d love to hear other thoughts on the article and any stories people have about their experiences with having an invisible disability on public transportation.