What Went Wrong?


Inside the carriage of a long distant train. The train is moderately filled with sparatic spots availabile, however; currently occupied by baggage. I enter the train and notice a spare two seats next to a mother and a young lady. They are International travelers (and i soon find out to be American). They have baggage cluttered over four seats as well as mine. I ask them politely to move one of their bags so i could sit there. The young American makes a giagantic scene like she had indeed discovered i had slept with her mother.

At the next station an old man walks up to the ladies.

Start Scene

Old Man – you will have to move those bags. My wife and i would like to sit there.

While the old man returns to collect his wife, the young lady begins to complain. She complains there is “no where to out her stuff” but what she was really saying was “there is no where that i want to put my stuff”.

The old man returns and she is still complaining. The old couple would be in their 70-80’s and should not be expected to ride a 2hr train standing up. As they slowly re-approach the Americans…

American (who is currently throwing her bags everywhere to make a scene) – i don’t know where i am going to out this.

The group where at log heads. I loook at the old couple and say

Anthony – take my seat, she is only going to continue whinging
Old Man – where will you sit?
Anthony – i’ll find somewhere

Scene End

So, what did you see? Who was right and who was wrong? How could have this been handled better?

As i watched on i can safely say that both parties were wrong.

A ticket on the train entitles you to one seat. I appreciate you may be carrying baggage and it does require room, you should not ever deny somebody the right to a seat because your inanimate object is taking its spot. At the same time while the old man is indeed old and should be respected because his body is not equal to that of a young person, he should have never started the conversation with a demand. A demand like this is always going to be met with an objection.

In a previous entry i spoke about 1st and 2nd position.

1st position is when you see things from your eyes only and 2nd position is when you see things from somebody elses side.

It is pretty obvious that both parties where stuck in first position. If i could ask them individually what was the most important thing at the time the old man would have said “a seat for my wife” and the young lady would have said “somewhere to store my baggage”. While both where indeed important, society is build on helping one another.

How could this have been handled better?

Despite by own confrontation with the Americans, i blame the old man for starting this confrontation. In your opinion which would give you a greater chance to move your bags;

1.) you will have to move those bags. My wife and i would like to sit there.
2.) my wife and i would like to sit there, would you mind moving your bags?

Option 2 is always going to provide a better chance for success.

Over time i have understood that getting into a confrontation with someone is just two people not moving from 1st position. Sometimes we get caught up in being right so much that we only focus on the problem instead of the solution.

Ironically enough i moved my posessions and when i stepped down into the bottom carriage (our trains are two leveled) i found two vacant seats. What would have the experience had been like if the American had said “as you can see i have a lot of bags. Do you mind if i quickly look in this carriage for two available seats before i have to move those bags?


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