Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Window seat gestures 

There are four or five gestures you need to master (perform and recognise) in order to smothly negotiate a busy train or bus journey:

1) [When sitting in the window seat] Perform the gesture that means: "I will be getting off at the next stop, please be aware and be prepared to stand up and let me get past. I don't want you to stand up straight away, just make sure you are ready when the time is right." You can get this message across by packing stuff into bags, fidgeting a bit, playing with your coat, looking at your watch, these sort of things.

2) [When sitting in the aisle seat] "I understand the movements you are making. I understand that you will be getting off at the next stop and..."

a) "..you want me to be ready, to make sure I can stand up at short notice without tipping my drink over my sandwiches etc. but not to let you past just yet."


b) "...I too will be getting off at the next stop so there is no need to ask to get past me when the time comes. I'm aware now that you will be getting off too, so I will get up and move to the door in good time incase that is your preferance - I will do this even though when on my own I tend not to stand up until the train stops"

3) [From the window seat] "I understand what you have just told me. I understand that you are now aware that I am getting off at the next stop.." (normaly done by relaxing whatever you were doing to execute gesture 1).

a) "...you will be ready to stand up and let me past when I am ready (when I say 'excuse me' and shuffle across the seat)


b) "...I am aware that you are also getting off at the next stop and am also aware that you will stand up and move towards the door in good time to cater for my wishes. I understand that you have indicated this clearly to me and for me to jump the gun and try to get past you would be considered rude"

The satisfactory performance of three of these gestures will result in two passengers having complete knowlage about eachother's intentions. They will know what the other person wants them to know and in addition they know that the other person also knows this.

Failure to execute one of these gestures can result in confusion and fustration. For example assume that gesture 3 is not performed satisfactoraly. The passenger in the aisle seat will be left thinking: "I know that he wants to get off at the next stop, but does he know that I know?"
While the window passenger who believes they have performed gesture 3 satisfactorarly is left thinking, "I have informed him that I know that they know that I want to get off at the next stop, but he's acting like he doesn't know this - he's still performing the gesture used to tell me he knows that I want to get off".

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