Here’s a wee tale about responses to incivility in public space. I was on a train the other day – corridor carriages, seats facing – and sat almost opposite a young couple who were dozing, the young man rather slumped with his legs sticking out.
Some ticket inspectors came through, and then at the next stop a woman got on and the first I knew was to hear her cursing the young man: “tuck your legs in you silly sod! What am I supposed to do, jump over them!?” Etc. But she sat next to him even though there were other places available.
He apologised quietly and pulled himself up. She was still cursing. I stared at her dark glasses and suggested that if she took her glasses off she might be able to see well enough to notice that there is plenty of room to pass. I said that her remark was unfair. She said “I’ve got arthritis.” The young man kept saying “I’m sorry.”
Then one of the ticket inspectors appeared from beside the doors – I had not realised he was still with us – and suggested to the woman that she apologise. “I thought that was very rude,” he said. And she did.