Muni Mind Reader: Aisle-Seat Squatter

aisle-seat-hogAfter a brief hiatus (we gave her the week off for Riders With Drinks), Tiffany Maleshefski, aka Muni Mind Reader, is back. This week, she peers inside the synapses of that odd creature who, often no matter how soon their stop is, refuses to scoot over to the window seat.

Yes, I understand it’s a little odd. You’d think that the opportunity to have a view, fresh air, and to have a place to lean your head when you’re sleepy would be an ideal situation for riding the bus. But, I just can’t do it, OK? I can’t sit in the seat near the window.

So regardless of how crowded it might get … no matter how much hate-beams you direct my way, I am NOT going to move over. I’m just not. EVER. Deal with it!

I realize it would be a perfectly easy enough task. I’d slide over so no one had to make a big scene fumbling over legs and knees and worrying about your bags sliding off your shoulder and hitting people in the face. But what you’re forgetting is what happens when you sit down and I am getting off at a stop that’s before yours. Then what do we do? Are you just going to get up and let me out?

Sure, I’ve seen this sort of consideration played out. But sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I sat near the window once. Just once. It was my stop, I had waited a little bit longer than usual to prepare my exit at the next stop. Before I knew it, the doors had opened and people were filing out and I was STILL at the window, collecting my bags, and the person in the aisle seat didn’t even realize what was happening. I nearly knocked them over as they stood up to let me through, and THEN … the BACK DOORS CLOSED! I had to yell, “Back door! Back door!” Eventually, the doors opened again and I was able to exit. But from that day forward, I swore, may God strike me dead, that I would NEVER stay from the aisle seat. Ever. God, I still have nightmares about that shit.

So, no matter what. Even if it’s a bus with standing-room only.

And you know what? For all your silent bitching, you could, if you really wanted to, climb over me. You could even ask me to move over. But you won’t, will you? Awww, because you’re just so damn polite, right? You’re just too pure and chaste to have the audacity to ask me to move or to help yourself to my empty seat. You know what? You’re a pussy then. Because seriously? How hard is it to squeeze in front of me to get to the window seat?

Maybe it’s a phobia, because you know how when you’re taking a group shot and the photographer says, “OK everybody! Squeeze in!” Well, it just never worked for me. I’d squeeze out. Just go and try to find a group photo with me in it.

And I realize that there is a bit of a power trip going on here as well. You’ll find among aisle-seat-squatters that we don’t have a lot of control in our lives. But one thing we can control is whether or not we sit next to the window. And apparently, that power is so far-reaching, it makes fellow passengers cower in a corner, or kind of do this fake-out aggression by simply throwing us dirty looks. WHATEVER, dirty looks don’t do shit. I just pretend you aren’t there. I mean, you’ve seen me do this a thousand times. It’d probably make things less awkward if I was reading a book or listening to my iPod, because then at least we could both pretend I was so engrossed in something else that I didn’t even REALIZE there’s a fat empty seat next to me. But nah, I just go for it. Stare straight ahead. Never let them see you sweat. NO FEAR!

The only thing to fear is fear itself. That, and that huge-ass dude coming my way who is going to crawl over me come hell or high water. Uh oh. Here he comes. Is that a suitcase? SHIT! Oh thank god…it’s my stop! Until the next time …

Check back next Friday for the next installment of … Muni Mind Reader.


  • Erik

    Sometimes I make it a point to ask this guy to get up so I can have his inside seat even if there are aisle seats open elsewhere.

  • Steve

    Some of us have long legs, and there is no way to sit in the inside seat without turning sideways away from the window, therefore infringing on this aisle seat’s leg-space.

    Check and see if that isn’t what is happening.

    MUNI vehicles are apparently designed for the legroom needs of people shorter that 5′ 10″ as near as I can tell.

    I’m 6′ 4″ and I sit on the aisle. I always move for people to get in to the window seat if they ask. I don’t slide over, I stand up and let them in.

    I think a lot of folks think that’s a hassle for them to have to ask someone to let them in/out. So they’d rather make strangely passive/aggressive posts on a blog.

  • Steve

    Well…fair enough.

    But you’d be surprised how many times I’ve got a shorter version of Mind Reader’s post in person on a MUNI.

    Riders see aisle seat squatters, assume there is no reason for doing so but douchebaggery, and then give me attitude. All you have to do is ask nicely.

    This post ‘explores’ the mindset, but really is just spreading the assumption that there is no good reason to aisle-squat.

    So, you hit a nerve.

    At the same time, I also agree with the premise that most aisle squatters are probably douchebags doing it on purpose, often pretending to be asleep and all the other things we hate.

    I leave it up to the reader to decide if they want to be the type of person that makes that assumption about me.

  • Chibbs

    I enjoyed the post, as it reminded me of my own “ah ha!” moment of understanding of why some women refuse all but the aisle seats. I had come in from a grumpy commute to work, in a packed car save and except for a few of these open seats, viciously guarded (in my mind) by the women of the aisles. I railed in disgust to my office friend, who immediately said that she was an aisle harpy, and proud of it: too many times, she said, was she held hostage by some fat businessman who pressed his leg against hers, who quietly and ardently uttered sweet banalities, followed by mean insults, when she ignored their attentions. And once, even, was held hostage by a guy who refused to get up to let her leave at her stop, with a leer on his face and a busy hand in his pocket. And my friend was matronly — not the fresh out of school, I-think-I’ll-wear-this-cocktail-dress-to-work clueless type of women. — So, I no longer give the evil eye to women who take the aisle seat. I understand – sometimes.

  • Heather

    I always sit in the aisle seat as well, unless I’m not getting off until the end of the line. What I don’t understand is this–why is it so difficult for people to say excuse me? Occasionally someone does; I get up so they can sit in the inside seat, then take my seat again. I know I’ve been on many buses that were standing room only, yet no one could bring themselves to just say to me “excuse me.” I often say excuse me to the person on the outside seat so I can sit on the inside one. I’ve never had any problem, so I’m confused as to why others can’t do the same.

  • Kevin

    I have fostered resentment toward the aisle-seat squatters, and I too have gained some perverse pleasure out of asking for the inside seat from them. The comments to this post, I think, raised two interesting points that I had not thought about: 1) the plight of the tall; and 2) the plight of the woman. So I will no longer immediately judge such squatters.

    I do offer one suggestion, however. If you are an aisle-seat squatter, and there is someone standing in the aisle near you. Why don’t you ask the person if they would like to sit? I do not suggest that this is some immovable moral obligation. But I think the gesture would eliminate the passive-aggressive interpretation of your squatting and make MUNI a friendlier place.

  • Tiffany

    Yes, I agree — the responses to this post made me think about aisle-squatters in an entirely different way. I’m happy there were so many different points of view generated by this post!!

  • jimbobjones

    When I saw the name of this post, I was extremely worried about what squatting in the aisle of Muni meant, given the interesting stories resulting from some of the hobo-filled rides.

  • Croc

    When you have to slide by someone like that the best thing to do is rip a huge fart on your way.

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