“Customers, this is a fully-booked train! I repeat: a fully-booked train! Please remove your belongings from the seats so that other passengers may board! Thank you!”
The lady sitting behind me had already heard this announcement three times, and two train conductors had personally asked her to remove her bags from the seat. Each time, she pretended to move her bags to the floor, only to return them to the seat as soon as the conductor had stepped away.
Clearly, she was sending some very strong signals that she did not want to share her seat. And, it appeared that the boarding passengers were picking up on these signals as well. We had already passed through 3 stations, and several dozen passengers walked right past her without ever inquiring about the seat. Hooray for non-verbal communication!
But, do you know what kind of people don’t pick up on non-verbal communication? That’s right: Creepers.
And, guess who was waiting for the train at the next station? That’s right: a Creeper.
As soon as he set foot on the train, he walked right over to her and loudly asked “Can I sit here?“. After several moments of hesitation, she moved her bags without saying a word. He sat down and immediately began trying to make smalltalk.
Him: “Do you take the train often?”
Her: ”… just for work.”
Him: “Have you ever been to New York City before?”
Her: ”… yes. For work.”
Him: “Hey, what music are you listening to?”
Her: ”… jazz.”
Etc. Etc. Etc.
This cringeworthy conversation continued throughout the remainder of the trip. She was providing very clear cues that she did not want to talk, and he continued to remain completely oblivious to them. I could hear her psychically screaming: “Ugh! This is exactly why I hate sitting next to strangers on the train!”
And thus, it will continue forever. Each time she rides the train, she’ll give off strong non-verbal signals about not wanting to share her seat. These signals will be picked up by everybody except the people she most wants to avoid (Creepers!). Thus, the likelihood that a creeper sits next to her will increase drastically. When a creeper does sit next to her, the experience will then reinforce her desire to avoid sharing her seat in the future.