Watatita: How to Behave on Public Transportation
I often travel by public transport in Jakarta – mostly by bus. Before stepping into the bus, I chat with other passengers while waiting for the bus to arrive, and they seem to be kind, nice people… Until they sit inside the bus. I notice that once people get into buses, they become the most self-centered people in the world.
To clarify what I mean by “the most self-centered people in the world,” I will give you some examples of what people do once they enter a public bus. Some people don’t look left or right, they just shove in as fast and as hard as they can entering the bus until they knock some people – who have actually queued properly – out of their way. Some men don’t even care if they push away an elderly woman; they just want to grab a good seat.
Another example is when some people see an elderly person, a pregnant woman, or a disabled person enter a full bus, they pretend not so see so they can keep their seat. Or when some people sit with their legs spread out, taking a lot of space for themselves, or when they reserve a seat next to them by placing their bag on it, and do nothing when someone needs to sit down.
It’s hilarious, however, when Ramadan comes (which is soon!). All of a sudden people’s moral values change – just for a month. Out of nowhere, I notice people are a lot more patient, give their seat to those who need it, even share food with other people during breaking the fast!
Do we need Ramadan to take place every single month in order to make everybody respect each other on public transport? It’s farcical, isn’t? You have one month where people are so kind to each other because apparently that’s a blessed month, but it’s OK to act like an idiot every other month.
I gave my seat once to a pregnant woman who at that time couldn’t believe that somebody would do such thing. It was a really packed bus and was probably loaded over the legal limit. It was tiring to stand up all the way from Pondok Indah to Bumi Serpong Damai, but I was glad I gave that seat to her. I know I did the right thing, and it felt really good.
If you know you’re healthy and strong enough, and you see an elderly person, a pregnant woman or a disabled person, please stop thinking about yourself and imagine if you were that person. Oh, and please, you are all adults, please learn how to queue properly without elbowing each other as you enter public transport. This is valid not only for buses but also for “angkots” and trains.
It’s not called “public” transport for nothing: we use it together, not just for yourself. When some people start thinking only about themselves, someone else will suffer because of their ego.