Mind the ‘Age’ Gap



This one reared it’s head for me whilst travelling on the Central Line  to London recently. It got me to wondering how we determine the age of another.

How efficient can one be at making such assumptions.

When is it OK to imply that someone is older and more in need than you are?

I was travelling with Iron Man, The Kid and my cousin.

An elderly gentleman and his wife boarded the train with very heavy suitcases. No one moved, so after having a little mind tussle as to whether my offer of a seat would be offensive, I decided to speak out. When the gentlemen replied jokingly “do I look that old then?” I was able to quickly respond “no not at all, it was the heavy luggage!”  No flies on me.

Iron Man pointed out that I’d surged too early. That he wouldn’t have assumed the couple would want a seat.  He didn’t think they looked particularly ‘elderly’.

Not being a frequent traveller on the underground as part of the daily commute nowadays, would, perhaps deem me out of touch with the etiquette of judging how ‘seat worthy/needy’ one is.

Apparently, there was no look over of expectation for a seat. No eye contact. I’d missed the signs. There is a new Code of Practice operating on the tube to which I am not privy. Left to my own devices it would seem, I could make one feel older than their years.

For the purpose of this blog, I now find myself ticking the age group 45-60. I’m at the very lower end of the range but how, I ask myself did, this happen? It seems only last week I was in the 21-25 category.

I do often wonder if my being a little older makes everyone look younger. I often find it difficult to guess the age of another now. It seems there is no benchmark on which to compare. Iron Man agreed that he feels the same.

Perhaps we are boringly middle aged.

So we did what all sensible parents do after their child has been carted off to the theatre with free time on their hands. We played a guessing game. Iron Man and I played a little game of guessing how old people were as we continued our journey through Oxford Street. Not the wisest idea given the crowds on a Sunday. Never mind trying to shop!

Anyway, we got fed up with that but we would seem to agree in the main. The exercise, however, proved precisely nothing.  We took ourselves off to a bar to commiserate our time wasting.

Central Line

I remember working in Tottenham Court Rd in my early 20’s and without fail an elderly gentleman would get on at exactly the same time and place at Holborn. Every evening without fail I would give my seat to this man. Common sense should have told me to change carriages. In hindsight, given how wrong one can be at judging age, the gentleman was probably only 40 at the time and is probably still doing the same journey. I bet he’s missing me though if he is!

It’s a bit like the pregnant woman thing. You are not sure if she’s pregnant and are worried about causing her embarrassment versus staying put while the poor cow suffers thinking how inconsiderate you are. Both equally embarrassing, I’ve done both. Thank god they brought the badges out.

I’ve also been on the receiving end of getting the seat whilst not pregnant. I have to say I took no offence and dived in to the seat swiftly.

Would I do the same though if I was offered a seat because I was old. Hell no, I’d be bloody mortified. I’d probably start rapping in the carriage just to show I wasn’t.

I guess it’s probably not in order to query why someone is offering you a seat either. Chances are you aren’t going to like the answer.

Could it be that whilst thinking I was being courteous in offering a seat to a perceived ‘elderly’ person, I was in fact making them feel awful. I hope not. I could have had a far more comfortable journey and so could they.

So, where does one stand (or sit) on this potentially sensitive subject.

Are you a seat ‘giver-upper’ or a ‘head in your newspaper’ commuter?

Does it need to be about age or is it about courtesy?

We were brought up to respect our elders but is it possible that respect can be misinterpreted in this case?

Of course, if I were to ask The Kid, old is anyone over 25.

We are older parents in comparison to many people. Ancient in the eyes of The Kid. We are cool with that.

We have a wide range of friends that vary in age from much younger to much older than us.

Of our older friends, I wouldn’t dream of offering them a seat based on how they look but by rights, they are entitled to one. I know that none of them would accept it though.

Is it a battle that everyone faces as they reach their mature years. Is it a realisation that ‘you’ve arrived’, the first time a younger person relinquishes their seat?

Is there room for chivalry if we are trying to be appropriate. Which comes first?


I am asking this question at a time when everyone looks so wonderful and so young.  At a time where 50 is the ‘new 30’ and 80 is the ‘new 60’.

It’s not easy when you think about it, is it?

What qualifies a person as ‘elderly’?

This is a subject that is not limited to public transport.  It reaches much further than that.

I’d love to know what you think.  Do you have similar difficulties in determining age?  Maybe you are of the age that ‘should’ get a seat but don’t want one for the reasons I describe above.

More questions that answers in this Blog so I would love to hear your thoughts.


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A Bit Of Everything

17 thoughts on “Mind the ‘Age’ Gap

  1. It’s so hard to know what to do for the best sometimes. I tend to assume that if I do the right thing and offer them a seat, if they’re offended then that says way more about them than it does about me! #twinklytuesday

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel your pain here, Nicky. I’m 45 and I am of the generation where we were shoved off bus seats to make way for the elderly and in those days there was no mistaking the elderly lol. I wouldn’t be so offended if someone offered me their seat but my dear late mother would have swiped them one with her handbag for being cheeky. Horses for courses lol. Good post, nicely done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve totally hit the nail on the head. That’s the difference, you could tell couldn’t you!! Mind you everyone looked so much older back in our day! Or did they? I think perhaps being elderly was embraced at a younger age then. Thanks for commenting.


  3. I’m in the 30-40 bracket and commute in London daily. I will always give up my seat for anyone who looks more elderly or basically like they need a sit down. And pregnant ladies and those who are injured or just less able to stand. I wouldn’t feel remotely awkward at someone passing a little comment when I offered a seat because I would be doing it out of the kindness of my heart and no other reason. similarly I take a seat if im offered or at least thank profusely if I don’t need it!
    It’s a funny thing isn’t it. But kindness wins.
    Vix x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have always been rubbish at judging ages. I am now 42 so at that age where teachers policemen and doctors suddenly DO look very young. When I travel onnrhe bus I try to stay to the back of the bus in the assumption that older people wont sit that far back anyway.
    Thanks for linking up, Tracey xx #abitofeverything

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh gosh it is hard to judge how old people are these days. I’m still in my 30s but often struggle with the age thing. I hate to seem rude and to know I’d made someone feel old would devastate me. I just keep quiet, with my head down. Luckily I don’t mix with people very often so this issue never comes up. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. In fear of this exact scenario, I often stay standing on crowded public transport even if there is a seat. I figure there is going to be someone who needs it more than me getting on shortly. It usually ends up being taken by someone who needs it even less than I do so it’s a pointless self-sacrifice, but otherwise I spend the whole time sizing up everyone who steps on to assess their potential neediness. I must say though, when I was heavily pregnant I always appreciated someone giving up their seat. And now when I get onboard with very small people who are not so good at holding onto something for balance I also appreciate it. People tend to be pretty good about it now… or they don’t think about the service they are doing, they see a woman with a baby and a toddler and they run as far and as fast as possible so as not to have to be stuck next to them for the journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I rather like the way people get up for children now as they do tend to wobble around the carriage. With reference to your last post, you will always get a crumpled up face glaring in the expectancy of said child’s seat. I have to say I don’t budge on this one. Conversely, travelling with an inappropriate number of children is a sure fire way to clear a carriage. School trips being the ultimate carriage clearer. I can remember being a commuter and seeing the little darlings about to board my carriage. The only sensible and safe thing to do in this situation is to leg it. Thank you for visiting x

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ooh I like a good thought provoking post. I’m currently sat on a train (which is thankfully half empty) and eyeing up my fellow passengers. I have always been keen to offer my seat, and I don’t tend to think about age so much as just “do they seem like they need a seat more than I do?” For whatever reason that may be. I do squirm a bit around the pregnant / not pregnant issue, but I remember catching an absolutely crammed train into Leeds on the day of the Tour De Yorkshire departure (for work – not to watch). I was 7 months pregnant and crammed between other passengers wobbling about in the middle of the aisle. Not one person thought to offer me a seat which I found so disappointing. Not that I particularly wanted one, but I just couldn’t understand why people wouldn’t even consider it? Maybe that’s just me. I think I’d always try and offer another reason like your fab “luggage” reason just in case. Brill post and I think I’ll be more mindful from now on. :0) Dawn x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d have wanted a seat at 7 months pregnant on a train during the Tour de France too Dawn – you are not alone there! I think once I started writing this post it got me on to the whole age question and whether it still applies in isolation. Thanks for stopping by. Nicky x

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think that you are showing your age and your lack of current day tube etiquette by suggesting that people hide behind a newspaper! From what I see, most people are absorbed in an electronic device these days! Do I give up my seat? Not on your life! Am I unkind or uncaring? No! More often than not, even at the tender age of 45, I am exhausted when I get on a train! I need the seat myself. As I get older, I find myself being more and more resentful to old people! I can only dream of a final salary pension, free travel card, free TV licence, free swimming etc, etc, etc!!!! Our generation will probably still be working when we are 80 (so your comment about 80 being the new 60, is correct but not for the right reasons). I will rest my legs while I can, because chances are I’ll be standing on them for many years yet!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An interesting perspective as always, Jenny. Thank you for commenting Of course, there are times we all need that seat. I’ve totally been in that place where the thought of a seat has kept me going.

      I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree on your second point as, those elders to whom you refer, have in the main, contributed both financially and to society as a whole. Many of them are also quite self-sufficient.

      You rightly point out that we could be working when we are 80. If i am working when I’m 80 it will hopefully be because I can and I want to. I hope if that is the case you may wish to share your seat with me!

      Nicky x


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