Thursday, 18 August 2016

Politeness and chivalry gone mad!

On the bus two ladies, about my age, perhaps a bit older, in other words old enough for people to give up their seats for them, were sitting on two of those seats reserved for the halt and the lame. You can't miss them; they have a symbol of an old stick man with a stick.

A couple of stops along, an older man got on, an old chap with a stick, accompanied by someone was most probably his daughter. Getting on, he had problems with his green card, the one for paying his fare. Maybe carrying it around in an envelope which then needed opening was not a good idea. He dropped it, twice, almost dropping his stick in the process, but eventually got it to work. He moved, somewhat precariously, down the bus. 

One of the ladies in the seats for the halt and the lame stood up and offered him the seat. Clearly his dignity as a fine old gent was affronted. He blusteringly refused the offer. Both ladies were now on their feet, declaring that they were getting off soon. There then followed almost five minutes of the two ladies, the old gent and the daughter, also probably in her fifties or more, telling each other to sit down and warning each other about the dangers of standing up on a moving bus. The driver could brake, "dar un frenazo", at any moment. Falling was a distinct possibility. 

The two original ladies did indeed get off a couple of stops further along. The old gent and his daughter sat down. All was well. Then, two more stops along the route, another old chap with a stick got on. The first old chap with a stick offered to stand so the second could sit down. So did the daughter. Further extreme politeness ensued. The second old chap said he was fine. He had been sitting all day. And anyway, he suddenly realised he was on the wrong bus and had to get off at the next stop. 

You could not make it up! 

It must be a week for over courteous behaviour. The bus incident was yesterday. This afternoon in the Mercadona supermarket next door, I saw another example. In that supermarket, in fact in most of the supermarkets I frequent here, you almost never see checkout girls sitting at the tills twiddling their thumbs as you do in the UK. They wait until the queue build up and then call assistants by name to go to the till. 

Ths afternoon, there were queues at two tills, the rest being unoccupied. An elderly couple, one of whom was blind, were dithering about which queue to join. The call went out: SeƱorita blablabla, acude a caja. Ever so polite, using the formal imperative and everything. They always ask the customers to move over to the newly opened checkout in queue order. (This is another thing that does not happen in the UK. A new checkout opens and there is a free for all to get into the queue first. So much for British queuing!) Anyway, this afternoon, one after another, customers indicated that the elderly couple should go ahead of them. Each time they politely declined. Finally, I persuaded them that they should go ahead of me as they had been waiting (dithering) for a while already when I joined the queue. 

Wonderful stuff!

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