The Attorney At Large’s Guide to Urban Manners, Part XI: Elevators and Streetcars
Posted on June 30th, 2011
This is another post in my Urban Manners series.
Here is the bright line rule: people exiting the elevator and streetcar (or other public transit) get to do so before anyone else may enter the elevator or streetcar. I don’t care if it looks like the doors might shut on you – put your hand out and hold the door and wait for people to get off the conveyance. This isn’t just polite, it’s logical. Once some people have disembarked, there will be more room for other people.
Related: let the people nearest the door exit first. If you’re standing near the door and don’t plan on getting off, get out of the damn way. If conditions are perfect, you should let women and children leave or get on the streetcar first. (This is old fashioned, yes, but it is delightful when it’s done and is an automatic mark of a gentleman.) If you’re the one blocking the door, just get off the streetcar/elevator so everyone else can, too.
I really can’t tell you how many people have mowed down (or nearly mowed down) Pea in their haste to get on the streetcar before we can disembark. This is such a basic common courtesy that I’m stunned it needs to be pointed out to anyone.
You should always offer your seat to someone with a disability, someone who looks exhausted, someone who is pregnant, someone who is of a certain age (I’d peg it at 60+), or someone with a baby. (I am happy to report that we are often offered seats, but Pea is a pro and normally prefers to stand. Also, we rarely go further than three or four stops.)
Also, a word about hats on elevators. It is acceptable to wear a hat in an elevator if there are no women in the car. If a woman gets on the elevator, a man should remove his hat. If you are wearing a ballcap, go back home and change, because you should never wear a ballcap in public, anyway.
Hats on public transportation: I think they’re fine, because it’s a public place. (Unless it’s a ball cap, in which case, again, you shouldn’t be wearing it in public.) Also, it’s hard to figure out what to do with a hat on public transportation, especially if you’re standing (the rule being you should never show the inside of your hat). That being said, if a man strikes up a conversation with a woman on public transportation, the most polite thing to do would be to remove the hat. (In fact, the most polite thing to do every time a man stops to talk to a woman – on the street, or in a library, or wherever – is to remove his hat.)