So when you're on the bus and a decrepit old crone comes aboard, shuffling along with stroller near groaning under her surplus purchase of kitty litter and tuna, it's pretty straight forward, you offer your seat. Pregnant woman, ditto.
But there are times when I'm pretty well flummoxed.
The almost old people. They look like they could be old... But they are fighting off aging with a large stick of denial and not a small amount of hair colouring. You watch them, they don't look around expectantly, they grab a hold of the overhead bar and hold on for dear life like everyone else. Does one offer their seat to them, thereby embarrassing them into accepting their old age, and by extension, I suppose, their closer demise to the march fo Time? Me, being the weak willed coward that I am, simply suppose that it'd be too embarrassing for me, and simply stare at the ground meaningfully.
And it's always trickier when they are men. Older men are a rarity on the bus, in any case. they are a transient sighting, sure to never be seen again. Perhaps their crotchety yet usually dependable American sedan with the rear wheel drive and terrible gas mileage is in the shop for its annual checkup; perhaps they have loaned their car to the wife for just one day, while they try an adventure aboard the public transit; it's never clear. And what's even less clear is whether they would take your seat if you offered it to them. They usually have the stalwart expression of a person who has maybe seen an actual pitched war in his hometown of whatever european village he seems to have been airlifted from. A little standing is nothing to him. He'll let all those soft young people keep their seats, what with their rock music and disco.
Ah, the vagaries of transit etiquette. The only thing for it, of course, is to take the bus at god awfully early hours, thereby winnowing down fellow transit passengers to construction workers or insomniac office workers, and maybe the odd geek who looks about worriedly, hoping that the next person to get on the bus isn't a crotchety old man with a dyed toupee wearing a faded uniform from D-Day.