Because American culture is dominated by cars, which are basically couches and recliners encased in steel and glass, many people new to Seattle have no clue how to conduct themselves in the shared spaces of public transit.
Make no mistake: Public transit is good for your health and good for the planet. Compared to riding in a car, the fatality risk is miniscule. But the adjustment from one mode of transportation to the other is by no means easy. If you have just moved here from some suburban wasteland (i.e., a place without trains or buses), you are probably intimidated. You can figure out which bus to take at metro.kingcounty.gov. You can figure out where to catch light rail at soundtransit.org. But how should you act, where should you stand, and what should you not do? Follow me.
1. Stand on the right side of the escalator, walk on the left.
What you must understand is that the city does not care how much you love your man or woman or friend or how much you want to stand side by side on an escalator. Please do that sort of thing elsewhere. There are only two acceptable ways to ride the escalator: on the right (if you are standing still) and on the left (if you want to walk up or down). If you are on the left but just standing still (like the person in the photo above), you're in everyone's way.
2. No talking on your cell phone.
It is fine to talk to the person sitting next to you on a bus or train. But it is very bad to talk on your phone. Just don't do it. Don't even think about it. If the phone rings and you see it's your dying mother, kill the call and text her your goodbyes. For some reason, most likely related to human evolution, it is easy for the ear to block out a natural person-to-person conversation, but nearly impossible to do so with one happening on the phone.
3. Your bag doesn't go on the seat.
You are a person. You have lungs, eyes, a heart, a mind. Your bag is wnot a person. It's inert. It feels nothing when it is on your lap or on the seat next to you. But a standing person does feel things, and would love to rest their world-weary bones on the seat occupied by your lifeless bag. Are you feeling me? Do not put your bag on the empty seat next to you, even if the bus or train looks pretty empty.
4. Sit upright, feet on the floor. Speaking of seats, one must remember that those in the bus or train are not the same as those in your living room. The latter are just for you; you can throw your feet up on their arms or spread your whole body over them like an octopus if you want. The former, however, are for the public. This means you need to sit on them like you have a spine and not like you're preparing to receive a lap dance.
5. No meltdowns. Finally, the thing you must never do on a bus is have a meltdown if the driver happens to forget to open the back door. Drivers are not robots. They sometimes make mistakes. Yes, they neglected to open the back door at your stop; no, it's not worth losing your marbles over it. Quietly re-pull the stop-request cord or just simply wave to the driver to open the door and make your exit. Whatever rage you have, please do not bring it on public transit. Rage is for those stuck in cars.