Why I don't think I should have to give up my seat on a bus or the MTR for the elderly

Why I don't think I should have to give up my seat on a bus or the MTR for the elderly

One student writes in to question why old people should automatically get to sit down

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Do older people automatically deserve a seat?
Photo: K.Y. Cheng

It used to be that giving up your seat for elderly citizens was considered good manners, but nowadays it’s considered a “must-do”.

There have been some reports of elderly citizens demanding that other people give up their seat, and I believe this is extremely unfair.

It doesn’t matter if you are young or old – if you pay for a seat, you should have the right to sit on it. Some may have worked all day and want to rest on their journey home, but they’re made to feel guilty if there are elderly people around.

What’s worse is the elderly often push and take seats, and people are too scared to say anything. I always scold elderly citizens in these situations because they don’t respect me enough to ask. I paid for my seat, I have the right to sit on it, yet they think they have the right to take my seat.

I thought I would ask Young Post how we should go about resolving this difficult issue.

Andy Liu


More than 60 per cent of Hongkongers use plastic utensils or straws when dining out, and that's not okay


From the editor

Thank you for your letter, Andy. And yes, I can tell you how to solve the problem very easily. Get up and give your seat to the elderly.

I’m afraid I cannot agree with you that just because you paid for your seat, you have a right to sit on it. The elderly pay for their seats too, so they have a right to sit, too.

What’s more, you don’t actually pay for “a seat” on the MTR or a bus. You pay to be transported from one place to another. If you paid more to sit down, this would be a different situation.

Giving your seat to someone who needs it more than you do is a sign of good manners. Hogging a seat when someone needs it is a sign of selfish weakness. Generally speaking, as humans, we take care of those who are weaker than ourselves. This has helped human beings succeed as a species for thousands of years.

It used to be that young people automatically respected those older than them. They would never dream of remaining seated when an elder was standing. These days, the media has taught us differently. We all learn slogans like “respect must be earned”. But I think we can take it for granted that respecting an elder is a reflection of our inner strength. Yes, you might be tired, but you’re strong enough to suck it up. And how dare you scold an elderly person? You don’t have the right.

If you are ill, or seriously injured, then of course you should keep the seat. But unless you are weaker than an elderly person, get up on your feet and stop complaining.

Susan, Editor

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1 comment

Avery Wong

23:23pm

While it is unfortunate that you’ve had to deal with some rather unpleasant elders, does it really seem justified to bunch all of them together? I’ve had my share of Being shoved for my seat in a bus, or being shamed because I was so captured from a book I was reading that I didn’t even notice the elder, but I still think it’s the proper thing to do to yield your seat to elders.

While they don’t always show their appreciation due to a bunch of weird reasons, from general old age to the social norms of their period, I feel that they’re still grateful when someone yields a seat for them. It very likely means a lot more to them than it does to you, considering how with old age often comes joint pain, dizziness and general fatigue which makes life a lot harder for them. What’s worse is that aging tends to lead people to feel disenfranchised and unimportant, so some of the occasionally rude behaviour could be a bad coping mechanism to things.

What I generally do is just ask the elder if they want the seat. If they refuse, don’t insist, just sit back down. Even when they refuse, you often get the sweetest smile from them, you get to keep your seat, and they leave the train feeling that respected because you had the courtesy to offer the seat, and also respect/honour their answer.