She Fell Asleep On The Subway, And An Elderly Lady Woke Her, Demanding Her Seat In A Foreign Language – Was Pretending She Didn’t Understand Wrong?

A 27-year-old woman had a lengthy daily commute of a 50-minute subway journey. She would often use this time for a quick power nap after an exhausting day at work, but this habit would soon put her in the middle of a public altercation. 

End of the Line

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The woman lived at the end of the subway line, which had its positives and negatives. Whilst it meant a lengthy journey to work, it also meant that she could freely fall asleep on the subway, without having to worry about missing her stop. 

Awoken By a Stranger’s Outburst

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One evening, after a particularly tiring day, the woman succumbed to her fatigue and drifted into a deep sleep during her commute. However, her sleep was suddenly disturbed as she awoke to find an elderly woman angrily shouting at her in a language she understood but hadn’t expected to hear.

Miscommunication and Assumptions

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The elderly woman was providing quite a rude awakening. She repeatedly demanded in a foreign language, “HEY YOU! GET UP DANG IT! GIVE ME YOUR DANG SEAT! GIVE ME YOUR SEAT SO I CAN SIT!”

An Unexpected Awakening

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Confusion gripped the young woman. “She was screaming in the second language I speak”, she explained. “Neither of us was white, so I guess she just assumed I spoke her language?” 

Interpreting the Woman

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Feeling hazy from her nap, the woman eventually pieced together the essence of the woman’s demands. She began pondering whether to comply or address the situation differently.

Reservations and Moral Dilemma

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While the young woman would typically be willing to offer her seat to those in need, this situation was different. Her anger flared at being abruptly awoken by the stranger’s rude and demanding tone. 

Choosing Silence Over Action

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In the heat of the moment, anger outweighed the young woman’s willingness to assist. In response, she opted to feign ignorance of the woman’s language, posing a question in English to deflect the confrontation. “What do you need? What are you saying?” she inquired. This abrupt language shift seemed to quell the elderly woman’s anger.

An Unsettling Departure

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The elderly woman, disarmed by the language switch, muttered an expletive under her breath, expressing her frustration. A few stops later, she disembarked from the subway, leaving the young woman in contemplation.

The Aftermath

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In the aftermath of this encounter, the young woman was left pondering her actions and wondering if she was in the wrong. She knew the elderly woman appeared to be in her sixties and might have needed the seat. Nevertheless, the woman’s rude awakening invoked her anger, leading to her decision to use the ‘language barrier card’.

Posting on Socials

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There was no denying that the woman felt somewhat guilty, so she headed online to confess, seeking a second perspective. Thankfully, hundreds of social media users came to her defense. “Age does not entitle older people to behave poorly”, someone stated. “You did nothing wrong.”

A Rude Awakening

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Most people disregarded the elderly woman’s age, focussing instead on her attitude. “She woke you up, yelling at you to get up and move”, another commenter pointed out. “To me, she sounds like a jerk. Just because she’s elderly, it doesn’t automatically entitle her to a seat. In my book, respect is earned, not given.”

A Matter of Politeness

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This attitude was mirrored throughout the entire thread. “If I was woken by someone who asked politely “Please, I have awful joints, may I use your seat even just for 5 minutes?”, I’d be much more likely to offer up my seat”, another reader stated. “However, to be rudely demanded I get up, nah sorry, I’m going to sit in this seat of out spite now.”

Why Wake Her Up?

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One commenter chimed in with a simple yet interesting question: “Why would she wake you up instead of just asking someone else?”

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