One constant reminder regarding the difference between the Philippines and US is how people treat the empty seat next to them. Specifically, the way we handle vacant seats on public transit. For some reason, many Americans like to guard that seat with their life. Sometimes they’ll even say a fat person was sitting there earlier and farting to avoid another from taking it. God forbid this already uncomfortable trip becomes a shared experience with a stranger going somewhere they’d rather not, too.
I believe this is a very first world versus third world cultural difference. The third world is used to the crowding and inconvenience of a stranger’s love handle rubbing against their elbow. Americans cannot handle the notion of sharing a seat as doing such would be too kind and generous toward another soul. You don’t even see bleachers at sporting events anymore because Americans just love their personal space.
I don’t think anyone in the Philippines would ever become over-guarded with the seat beside them. It’s not in their nature to force someone into standing. They already despise walking. Surely, they’ll pity another person enough to allow them an opportunity to rest their bones or a seat cushion to slightly extinguish the sound of their farts.
Not long after Jenny arrived in the US, she pointed this out to me. While on a train ride to visit my dad, she queried as to why the woman across from us was sitting in the middle of a three seater with a bag occupying the aisle seat. At first, it seemed like an anomaly. In actuality, it’s commonplace. I’m not defending the bitch, but she’s far from the only one to ever do so.
Something in our American society hates sharing. I blame Barney the Dinosaur and high STD rates among teens. Both the big purple dinosaur and loose teens preach sharing. Each is equally annoying.
When I was a kid, I was disgusted when my grandma made us share a table at Wendy’s with strangers. The old man there even criticized me for not eating the tomato on my burger. It’s almost as if eating a single tomato would’ve saved me from childhood obesity. Society has gotten a lot more antisocial since. The result is we’re less accommodating to others.