This is a PSA on how to politely ask to sit in a window seat when the aisle seat is occupied, and an alert for an incredibly rude expat:
Frequently, you may find an aisle seat is occupied, and the window seat is empty. This happens for several reasons – perhaps the aisle seat occupant has been there awhile, and the window seat occupant left. Perhaps they’re getting off at a nearby stop. Perhaps they’re avoiding the sun. Also, many women feel safer from potential theft or groping in the aisle seat. Whatever the reason, you may wish to sit in the window seat. This can cause a quandary: do you stick your ‘butt’ or your ‘junk’ in someone’s face? Neither! Simply nod or gesture to the seat, and/or say ‘por favor’ or ‘permiso’. Usually, the person in the aisle seat will turn 90 degrees towards the aisle, so you can slide past (somewhat) more comfortably; other times, the person will stand up and allow you to reach the window seat, or slide over to the window seat and give you the aisle. A ‘gracias’ is always polite. This concludes our PSA.
Now, those new to the Cuenca buses may not have noticed this little dance happening all around them. Others… well, let me tell you my mother’s experience today. I’m actually providing as much detail as possible, in hopes that friends or family of this incredibly rude man will be able to identify him and speak to him about the ‘magic words’ please and thank you. However, being over 65, if he hasn’t learned by now, it probably won’t happen and he’ll continue to make expats look uncouth and maleducado.
My mother was on the 16 southbound towards Hospital del Rio, and at Almacenes Chordeleg (Luis Cordero y Heroes de Verdeloma) a tall, white, balding man (not skinny, not fat, maybe ‘big boned’) got on the bus and used his tercera edad bus card. He identified the window seat he wanted, where the aisle was occupied by a professional woman. He proceeded to place his hands on the seats in front and behind, twist sideways, and step over this woman, one leg at a time, rubbing his butt in her face! The woman was absolutely appalled at his behavior, and said something, which my mother translated roughly as ‘I would’ve moved if you’d asked me’. Assuming this man couldn’t speak Spanish, my mother leaned forward from the seat behind them, and translated. He sneered and said ‘Do you speak Spanish?’, and proceeded to argue with the woman he’d accosted, in Spanish (the singular example I can think of where I wished an expat *didn’t* know Spanish). He turned back around to my mother and said, aghast, ‘She says *I* should say please and thank you and beg her permission to sit down!’. My mother was just embarrassed that he was speaking to her, afraid others might think she was so uncivilized. She tried to telepathically communicate “I’m sorry” with her expression to the other passengers, who were listening to the exchange in disgust.
Shortly after, she moved towards the back in anticipation of her stop; the man also moved back to exit, and said to my mother ‘That woman was so rude! She was sitting on the aisle. *They* never move over! *They* need to *learn*!’ (as emphasized).’ And so he left my mother, jaw agape.
If you know this man, please feel free to let him know, these stories get around – not just on expat groups, but you can bet that woman told a number of her friends and family, who told their friends and family… and so on. If you witness inappropriate behavior like this, I encourage you to try to intervene if you can in any way de-escalate the situation, consider apologizing and reassuring Cuencanos that not all expats act this way, and admonish people whose behavior is not reflective of our collective gratitude for living in Cuenca.
For those with beginner Spanish, such an exchange might be something like this for a man: Lo siento por él. Es muy maleducado, no es mi amigo. No todos somos así. and for a woman: Lo siento por ella. Es muy maleducada, no es mi amiga. No todos somos así.