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It happened one afternoon after a lecture essential for Freshers.
From various points on campus, students poured into the underpass creating a stampede that even “Loud bus guy” couldn’t handle. The number three filled up and all of the seats were taken instantaneously. People who only caught the bus right before its door shut – like me – had to stand in the aisle, holding onto the rail and cautiously balancing the turns and bounces of the vehicle.
The red light went off and buzzed at the edge of the city. One of the students left her seat, being replaced by a middle-aged gentleman who – quite athletically – entered the bus on crutches and the ride continued.
The next stop, the bus got more crowded as an elderly lady came in. I could give you a vivid description of said woman; her skin was as delicate as autumn leaves, wrinkled deep by the demands of age, her crippling back rendered her doomed to look solely at the ground as she made small, uncertain steps forward. Without further dramatizing the story, let me just say that she was very old and that she struggled to stay on her feet. A bus seat seemed not only a necessity to her, but an evident entitlement due to her condition. She scanned the bus expectantly, waiting for a polite stranger to make a move and give up his or her seat. However, her glances were returned by nonchalant stares from the students, none of whom bothered to get up!
The deprived woman surveyed the bus again, somewhat in despair or disbelieve. The youngsters not only refused her unspoken request for a seat, but they observed her arrogantly, as if laughing in her face. “Haha, gran, what did ya expect? Go back to grave! Not our problem that you need to sit down more than us. Don’t take a bus if you require special care,” their faces were silently mocking her. One of the lads nearby even mumbled to his friend. For academic purposes I will transcribe his F-it all language into something like English: “Unbelievable. And she is so sure that someone will let her sit down. Who does she think she is?”
Eventually after witnessing this most appalling ordeal, somebody allowed the feeble lady to sit down. But to my dismay, out of a bus full of able bodies, it was the gentleman on the crutches! Who for the rest of his journey stood on one foot, holding the rail as if his life depended on it, while being watched by thirty or so perfectly fit teenagers.
One of the worst aspects of the scene for me, potentially, was that all those teens were my fellow students, university students! Who are assumed to be the elite and the best of the best, which academically, perhaps they are. They can break up the components of human DNA, they can recite Shakespeare, the result of a six-line-long equation is obvious to some of them immediately. However, it was not evident to any of them that an educated and cultivated person should be remotely considerate towards others.
The whole concept of higher education suddenly seemed futile in this nihilistic world of selfish creatures. Their arrogance and self-involvement over-succeeded their compassion and conscience. It made me question what kind of world do we live in? Are we socially declining in a society that is so technologically and academically advanced that basic manners become a thing of the past and we don’t take other people’s needs into account?
All I can hope for is that the University, rather than teaching us how to find X, determine genes, or analyse semantic structures, will in fact teach us how to behave. That as well as a degree, it will give us a bit of good old-fashioned, well needed manners.
Despite all the new information we take in daily and all the academic lessons we learn, my primary hope is that we don’t forget those life lessons and basic manners our parents taught us growing up.
Finally, I also hope that by the time they graduate, those passengers will realise what idiots they were.