This morning, I got on the bus which was, as it often is, steaming hot.
I moved to take a seat in the back and asked the two guys sitting there if I could open the window. They both nodded in approval, so I went ahead.
A few stops later, one of my favorite riders, “Man of great dignity,” got on the bus and sat down across from me and the open window. (I call him that because he has a very stern and worn face and he often is seen staring out into some far away future thinking of where we’ve been and where we might be going.)
I noticed that he started looking around puzzled. He started poking around at the windows behind him looking for something. It quickly dawned on me that he was looking for the source of the cool air.
After about 10 minutes, he finally realized it was the window behind me that I had opened. He somewhat sternly, if not angrily (though stern would have been more in character), lurched forward and used his umbrella to shut the window right behind me.
At this point, there were about 8 riders sitting among us, none of which had asked for the window to be closed.
So what’s the etiquette here? Is it OK to walk into a situation where others have already established themselves and make a change like that without asking around? Who’s needs win out here?
I was boiling hot and had already stripped down two layers. He had an overcoat on and was apparently still cold.
I thought about this for a bit and concluded I wasn’t opposed to the pure democracy approach. If he had asked, “does anyone mind if I close this,” and gotten ascent, it would have been fine.
But what if I said, “I’d really like it open.” Or what if one person said they’d rather it remain open. Who has right of way in that scenario.
There are many windows on the bus. Does each rider have domain over the window nearest to them?
People always said Seinfeld was about nothing. I always strongly disagreed. Seinfeld was about exactly these kinds of complicated, but fairly frequent, social interactions, and what rules should govern them.
Usually I have an answer, but on this one, I’m a bit stumped. If I had to choose, I’d go with the person nearest the window having the right to open or close as they see fit. I’m not sure how you can otherwise determine who’s needs are more important than anyone else’s.