Priority Seating on the Red Line MAX

Portland,  Oregon is a great city for public transportation.
Its bicycle friendly with plenty of street rentals for visitors or those who don’t have their own.  Light rail, buses,  streetcars, Uber and taxis round out the transportation modes I have used in this beautiful city.

I learned to ride the MAX light rail when traffic and parking in the city became challenging for me. And yes I have ridden the light rail system alone and yes I have ridden it alone at night. I have been asked “Doesn’t it scare you to take the MAX?” Honestly, no. I have never been afraid .  Amazed at people’s behavior yes, afraid no,  although there have been a few weird things that have occurred while riding.  Once a woman got right into my face and screamed:  Jesus died on a cross for your sins. Repent and be saved.  Hmm, I should have known this.  Whatever I had done bad I repented of that moment!  On another ride, I watched as a grown man was crouching down then springing up like we used to do as kids playing leapfrog. This was strange, yeppers until I saw he was following a young teenager. I became worried about the kid.  The young person had a plan, though. He switched seats,  moved to another car and finally exited the train at the last moment as the door closed, leaving the pursuing frog-man with his nose smashed on the train door .

On a recent trip, there was an event that still has me pondering.

We left our car parked in a lot near the airport and traveled into the city by lightrail to the Portland Film Festival. Once entering the doors of the train, I sat in the empty seat designated for the disabled or elderly. Charlie stood nearby. Across from my seat were two women, one with an electric wheelchair also in the area marked as reserved for the disabled or elderly.

Recently returned from Japan where there are unspoken rules about behavior on the train, we were a bit annoyed. These two women held an animated conversation that left us no doubt where they were headed; court! Three stops before our destination, the little ramp for wheeled devices came out from under the door and in comes a woman riding her walker by sitting on the seat and scooting her feet.

Charlie moved from his standing position and he and one of the women offered her help
I heard her mumbling and the only intelligible words were.

F-you
Get outta my way
I phone, dammit

One of the ladies across the way said to me
“You have to move.
That seat us for the disabled and she wants to sit there”.  Just as Charlie said “my wife is disabled she has Parkinson’s” the train lurched into motion.
I stood up to move away and my purse got tangled in her wheels.  We slid as a unit backward, the woman swearing and hitting me as went.
Charlie grabbed my jacket and pulled me away. My purse came unstuck and he said, “come to this door. Next exit is ours”.
I had this strong urge to go hug the woman.  I thought that was what she really needed.
I am pretty sure she would have slugged me and swore at me some more.
Charlie helped me off the train at the next stop.
“Phew, that was interesting. I’m ok.
Not even too upset” I murmured.
Charlie’s comment “I guess there are now different levels of disability for priority seating on the max red line”
That became our joke for the day.

And still, I wonder what would have happened if I would have hugged her.   I am sure she would still have requested priority seating!

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