An Argument

Oldenburg, Germany — in the morning, on the train. It’s packed with people, and to make things worse, there are also a lot of bicycles on board. Bicyclists are frequently requested to remove their bags from their bikes to save space. A few people usually heed the request – most don’t. Then a man in a wheelchair boards the train. He asks why the bags haven’t been removed. He manages to express his anger both clearly, and politely.

Where is the problem, a passenger asks. After all, there is still space for him, she says. [Which is true, but only for the gangway, next to the entrance]. She could be a teacher. Practical haircut, colorful glasses, and no really stupid expression on her face.

Why, the man in the wheelchair says – because the regulations say so. He’s still polite, and still very angry. I’m looking at the bunch of bikes and it dawns on me that the lady’s position is doomed. But she goes on: “It’s for the sake of arguing, right?”

“No,” says the man in the wheelchair. “It’s because I can’t reach the toilet, for example.”

Another passenger, apparently the lady’s husband, apologizes. “That’s true. We thought we could muddle through with our bags, but I can see the problem now.”

The lady keeps silent, and throws an angry look at her husband. The rest of the group, some ten more bicyclists, remain silent, too.

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