Let me paint the picture: I’m on the subway here in New York and it’s crowded but not packed. There’s some space to move around, if one was so inclined, but no seats available. (If there was a seat, I’d probably be in it. I’m not a seat hog or anything but I wouldn’t let such a precious commodity go to waste.) I was just standing there, holding on to the horizontal metal bar, about halfway between car doors. I’m not in front of the subway map or even holding on to a convenient part of the pole (the vertical parts are universally more convenient except for people who go for that one pose where they hang over their friend sitting below them). I’m not particularly close to an exit and we were underground, so there was no view. I had—what most people would agree—was a place to stand and a place that had no benefits to it beyond some real estate on the pole. My spot on the train was the kind of spot that’s always available except on a train busting at the seams with people in it.
The man standing next to me, who was closer to the door and holding on to the same horizontal metal bar as me, gestured, “excuse me,” with his hands and I backed away to let him pass. He must have seen a seat open up or a friend of his. Maybe he was preparing to get off the train. Certainly he was already closer to the door than me already but perhaps he knew which end of the train he had to get off on.
The man stepped to where I was standing and stopped. All he wanted my spot on the train. I now stood where he once was and he was where I was. He didn’t know anyone, he wasn’t trying to get anywhere, there was nothing to look at. He just wanted to stand where I was standing.
C’est la vie.