He Persistently Sat Next to Her on The Bus and ‘Manspread’ so She Took a Stand – Was It Fair for The Man to Be Offended?

A 35-year-old woman commuted to a city for work every Monday, a 3.5-hour journey. She preferred to sit near the front of the bus for safety. A man started to persistently sit next to her and encroach on her ‘space’. Here is what she had to say:  

A Quiet Bus

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On these trips, there were usually plenty of empty seats including double seats with both sides unoccupied, allowing passengers to maintain personal space. She had a routine – keeping her bags on her lap when people boarded and expanding her seating area if no one joined her.

The Intrusive Seatmate

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One day, the woman’s routine was disrupted when a man approached her about 20 minutes into the trip and asked if he could sit next to her. She courteously agreed. However, things took an uncomfortable turn when he began to “manspread” and encroach upon her armrest territory.

A Petty Annoyance

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Manspreading, a common transit irritation, was something she despised. The feeling of being forced to shrink herself so others could spread out bothered her, especially when both passengers were fairly lean and didn’t need extra space. 

Her Reaction

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The woman explained how she reacted: “I didn’t say anything, but I kept my legs and arms firmly on my armrest (middle armrests, we each had one), refusing to budge. He kept giving me side-eye, applying more pressure, etc., but eventually seemed to settle in”.

A Delicate Armrest Truce

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Occasionally, the woman had to retrieve something from her bag, temporarily surrendering her armrest. Eye contact and a polite “Pardon me” secured its return. While annoying, the situation didn’t seem worth escalating or changing seats.

A Regular Unwanted Guest

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Coincidentally, the same man started taking the bus every Monday morning, much to the woman’s dismay. “I started putting my bag down on the seat next to me until after he boards and then move it”, she explained. “I move it immediately and welcome anyone who asks to sit next to me during boarding time.”

Week Two: A Polite Request

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During the second week of this new routine, the man asked the woman if he could sit after the bus had started its route. She graciously allowed it but opted to sit elsewhere to avoid confrontation. He didn’t take kindly to her decision, displaying an offended expression.

Week Four: A Temporary Reprieve

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In week four, the man refrained from bothering her, perhaps realizing that asserting dominance wasn’t yielding the desired results.

Week Five: Back At It

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However, on the fifth week, the man again attempted to sit with the woman. This time, there were no adjacent double seats, but numerous open single seats available. She decided to speak up, politely asking if he could sit elsewhere. His response took a hostile turn as he began hurling insults under his breath.

The Breaking Point

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He couldn’t contain his frustration, resorting to derogatory language. At the bus’s final stop, he confronted her, criticizing her for her response, and then abruptly walked away.

Reflecting On The Situation

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The woman questioned her decision to refuse him a seat. While she had never denied anyone else before, this particular situation had tested her patience. She wondered if she was in the wrong for not accommodating him, despite his intrusive behavior.

Seeking Advice

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The woman sought validation for her actions, posting her story online and opening up for responses. Many commenters pointed out how strange it was that the man persistently chose to sit next to the woman: “You should honestly report the behavior to the driver”, wrote one person. “He was purposely targeting you.”

Defending The Woman 

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All readers were unified in defending the woman. “I wouldn’t have felt comfortable sitting next to him for 3.5hrs and there were other seats available”, another reader pointed out. “His reaction would make me want to get another bus”

Explaining The Man’s Behavior

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Attempting to explain the creepy behavior of the man, one commenter wrote the following: “I’m guessing he has a crush on you and in his weird twisted reality thought this was some weird kind of flirting.”

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