Apr 23, 2007

Seat lurkers

I have used Greek public transportation for many years and there is one particular type of passenger that has always irritated me.

The seat lurker.

Mostly female, definitely over 50, varying weight, usually short, with an uncanny ability to cut through a long line of preceding passengers, thrusting purses and shopping bags out of their paths, gnarling "if you can't handle it, take a cab".

They are famous for their Superman x-ray vision, able to scan and detect vacant seats from afar as the bus stop, before they even board the vehicle. Once they lock in empty chair coordinates, they proceed with G.I. Jane determination, eyes unblinkingly glued to the goal: The Seat.

In the unlikely case that someone else beats them to The Seat. The war is not over. They will hover annoyingly above seated young Ipoder until he/she relinquishes. If simple hovering goes unnoticed, then heavy respirations ensue. If those don't work, they whip out the old "I-could-be-your-mother/grandmother" cow-eyes accompanied with phony sweet smile and eyelash battings.

If obstinate chump STILL refuses to budge, seat-lurker reluctantly turns to other seated bus riders skimming for hints of potential dismounting and fresh seat coordinates.

I've had many personal bad experiences with this rude lot over the years. Only this morning, on a packed bus that could have easily been mistaken for a sardine can, a seat opened up directly in front of me. I looked around in case there was someone more needy than I and indeed, a couple people down, was an old man weakly balancing himself by a hanging bus strap.

By the time I motioned him to come and sit down, a female seat lurker had plopped herself down in the available seating. I informed her that an elderly gentleman was about to be seated and I got a mouthful of adjectives from her from out of the blue. Nasty mouth, too. Old man remained standing, I was fuming.

This is why I feel no remorse when I utilize my own personal ploy against seat lurkers as payback. If I'm seated and I notice a disgruntled, standing seat-lurker (you can tell by their eyes, up down the aisle doing the scan), I bait them. How? By adjusting my bag strap over my shoulder (makes it look like I'm getting ready to board off).

Bait is taken and they start to make their way through a bus full of standing people. I get halfway up from my seat and then.... innocently re-adjust the folds of my skirt and sit down again, never intending to get off the bus in the first place.

The expression of disgust on their faces is priceless.



John said...

Can I say I was about to yell at you? And tell you that you should have given that old bitty a mouthful yourself?

Then. OH THEN! You redeemed yourself. But in the passive way. A passive CLEVER way. Like how the Jedi did it, you Strike Back.

I love it.

Snake (a Cambridge kind of guy) said...

That's a neat trick. I'll have to try it out on the Boston subway one of these days. But I guess that means I've got to purchase a kilt.

Kassandra said...

Oh my tummy hurts! I just read Mel's post on street crossing and thought I'd received my share of humour for the night and couldn't expect more. Then I came round here and got a second dose! Hilarious as well... yet another typical greek scene vividly portrayed. And I am SO trying that trick with the handbag!

Also it just occured to me that it would be great if one day all these funny 'snapshots' of small elements of greek society were gathered together into one volume - print or electronic... no?

AntigoneSis said...

I like it! If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! I trace my dislike of crowds back to my childhood in Greece when I would accompany my mom on the bus downtown. Even as a little kid, I remember telling her how much I did not like being so crowded. And, I was always scared the bus wouldn't see me and would run over me (which probably isn't too unrealistic of a fear, huh?).

luc said...

Haha! I came here through Cassandra's site which I stumbled upon courtesy of Google. This could have been my story, but I'm glad you told it because you do so well. I live in Iraklio, Crete, and point for point I have had the same experiences over and over again, only I cannot give them a mouthful back since I don't master enough of the Greek language. But I DO use the same sweet vengeance technique...

Johnny said...

A! The seat lurker. What an appropriate name.
We have those in Romania. Same description, basically. But far more agressive.
And don't get me started on the subway people...