My mother always taught me that saying "Do you need help?" was rude. It implied that the person needed my assistance. She always preferred "Do you want help?"

Last night I was turning it over in my head. "Do you want help?" could also be offensive. It insinuates that the person desires my assistance. Is "Can I help you?" better because it insinuates that the person offering wants to help and is looking for consent? Should I not even be offering help to a stranger in the chance of offending and should I wait for the person to ask for my assistance?

The scenarios that come to mind are riding CTA (Chicago public transportation.) If a person riding the CTA alone appears to be having difficulty with the doors, their bag, a chair, etc. In that type of situation what is the best course of action?

I also have an issue with how quickly assistance is offered for those with clear socially accepted visual indicators versus a person who perhaps is not elderly or in a wheelchair. Not that I'm perfect because I know I pay more attention to someone with a walking aid boarding the bus than a person that appears to be able bodied.

There are many possibilities here and one of them is that I am just over thinking this whole thing.

This is what happens when I can't sleep.

Pretty much I don't want to be like this: