Esther Kim has spent years observing travellers on buses and how they will go to extreme lengths to avoid anyone taking the seat next to them. Here are her top 9 “non-social transient interaction avoidance” tips. If this doesn’t win an IgNobel Prize, I will go by car next time…
- Avoid eye contact with other people
- Lean against the window and stretch out your legs
- Place a large bag on the empty seat
- Sit on the aisle seat and turn on your iPod so you can pretend you can’t hear people asking for the window seat.
- Place several items on the spare seat so it’s not worth the passenger’s time waiting for you to move them.
- Look out the window with a blank stare to look crazy
- Pretend to be asleep
- Put your coat on the seat to make it appear already taken
- If all else fails, lie and say the seat has been taken by someone else
Of course, as soon as the driver announces that the bus is full and all spare seats must be made available to those still standing, Kim alludes to how the battle changes from avoiding anyone sitting next to you to simply avoiding a smelly weirdo taking that seat…
Kim, E.C. (2012). Nonsocial Transient Behavior: Social Disengagement on the Greyhound Bus, Symbolic Interaction, n/a. DOI: 10.1002/symb.21