The MBTA's Biggest Problem Ever?

It’s not every day that you get to solve an issue at once so pressing and intractable that it gets splashed across the Herald‘s homepage, so this is pretty exciting. OK, ready? Pay attention.

This morning the Herald reports on the scourge of people taking up more than one seat on the T and bus. Apparently, sometimes people do this. They put their backpacks or briefcases or sometimes even their wet umbrellas down on the seats next to them, preventing actual human beings from occupying that space. Some scofflaws even lie out across multiple seats and fall asleep. Man, that’s annoying! In New York, they ticket people for such boorishness, but here in supposed nanny state Massachusetts, we just let it slide. (Where’s the government when you need it!?!)

Because the MBTA says it has more important things to do than solve this extremely pressing issue (like closing that $161 million deficit you might have heard about), sad to say, this crisis may go unresolved forever.

But not so fast, my friend. I have a solution. If you see somebody taking up more than one seat, and you would like to sit down, try politely asking them to make space. I know. But desperate times call for drastic measures.

This may not work 100 percent of the time, but I have a feeling it will work a lot. How do I know? From the Herald‘s own crack reporting, of course. They recount the tale of Darlene Morrison, a local hero who encountered a man sleeping across three seats on the Red Line. She tried posting a picture of the sleeping man on Facebook, but, remarkably, that did nothing to change the, uhm, sleeping man’s behavior. Morrison was just getting warmed up, though. The Herald reports:

Morrison said she finally took action when an older man using a walker got on at a downtown stop. “I was really annoyed,” she said, adding she leaned over another passenger and snatched the offender’s Bruins cap. “I started banging him over the head with it, screaming, ‘Wake up! Wake up! … There’s a guy with a walker who needs a seat and you’re taking up three.’”

The man got up and moved over, she said.

See, look at what Darlene Morrison accomplished just by asking. Not only that, but it worked even though she went just totally batshit crazy on the guy. Imagine how far she could have gotten by simply being polite!

According to the Herald, though, those days may be gone. The paper asked State Rep. James Miceli, of Wilmington, a Transportation Committee member, about the problem of people taking up too many seats. Micelli said he’s interested in tackling the problem. “It’s a sad commentary on society, but I understand the need for it,” he said. “Common courtesy has, in a lot of instances, gone out the window.” Too true, Representative Micelli, too true.