Seat Hogs: Uncomfortable Confrontations with Strangers

by April 17, 2012 at 8:00 am 2,230 2 Comments

"Borderstan""Subway""Orange Line"

Seats taken, some by Seat Hogs. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Mary El Pearce. Follow her on Twitter@CupcakesDC and email her at maryelp[At]

It’s the little things in life that make me happy — flowers blooming, my dog greeting me at the front door when I get home from work, running into the Metro station to find I have one minute until my train arrives. It’s also the little things in life that make me rage with anger — left-side escalator standers, tourists who hold open Metro doors so all 15 of them can get in and perhaps the most serious offense, Seat Hogs.

The Seat Hog takes up two seats during rush hour or events that cause Metro trains to be crowded. This is super inconsiderate not just because people like to sit down, but it also encourages people to crowd doorways — which prevents others from getting on the Metro, which can cause people to have to wait for another train.

Examples of Seat Hoggery

Spreading your legs so no one can squeeze in next to you. You’re not in your office, you’re on public transportation. It’s not supposed to be comfortable. If you need that much room then you should just stand.

Falling asleep across two seats. I’ve fallen asleep on the Metro many times. You really only need one seat, by the window, where you can lean your head and others can utilize the seat next to you with ease.

Using one seat for your bag. You know how in airplanes you have to put your bag on the floor? Consider it the same for the Metro.

Sitting in the outer seat. Common courtesy calls for you to scoot to the inner seat if it’s available. There’s not enough room for someone to climb over you, and most people who sit in the outer seat avert eye contact with those who want to sit down. But I’m getting off at the next stop and I don’t want to make someone else get out so I can get out, you may think, assuming you’re being polite. You’re not being polite. Stand up if your stop is next and you don’t want to sit in the inner seat.

You should know that in any of these cases I will hover over you and stare you down until you acknowledge me.

If you don’t acknowledge me I will say, “May I sit down?” (Seat Hogs always look surprised, as if they have no idea they are occupying two seats. In reality, they’ve been quietly avoiding eye contact so they don’t have to move.)

Only once has this method threatened to be hazardous to my safety (that woman was having a bad day, but how was I supposed to know?), so the odds of successfully claiming the second seat from a Seat Hog have proved to be in my favor. I encourage you to claim your sitting rights as well.

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