How to hold down a full-time career, get a graduate degree, participate in a social/charity group, and grow a fetus in your uterus all at the same time. The working woman's guide to pregnancy.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Common Courtesies

I am a modern woman who opens her own doors and often carries her own loads. I ride public transportation to and from work, and I wear sensible shoes because you never know when you'll have to stand up for a long time.

But now I am carrying 30+ extra pounds of human life, and have had to rely a bit more on the graciousness of others.

Too bad not very many people in the Washington, DC metropolitan market are looking to be gracious.

It is not uncommon to hear complaints about people who sit in the "reserved for seniors and the disabled" seats on the Metro, and then refuse to budge when some truly deserving boards the train. In fact, I had heard so many of these type of stories that if, in my unpregnant state, I sat there, I considered myself on "special alert." I'd pay attention to see if a more deserving person boarded the train, and I got up.

A couple of stories to warm your heart (all examples are from the past four or five days):
a) On the metro.... I pushed my belly out and walked to the special seating section. Six men, all under the age of 40, sat in the seats and ignored me. I cleared my throat and said "can I please have someone's seat?" Six men continued to ignore me. I raised my voice and said "Anyone? Anyone?" Two men stopped their conversation, looked up quickly, and sheepishly stood up (giving me two seats). The other four men continued to ignore me.
b) On the bus... well, pretty much the same story.
c) On the metro today... I started walking towards the special section, but an older woman saw me first, and got up to offer her seat. I was about to protest, considering she looked like a frail chemo patient (BD's description), and her seatmate was a much more sturdy man in his 40s. But she was up and out before I could protest, so I gratefully took the seat. The three men nearby did not offer their seats to her.

Life in the big city, I guess.


gs said...

I love the image of you facing down the jerks on the metro until two of them stood up...that will put a smile on my face all day (not the jerks, but your determination!). Never underestimate the power of a woman...especially when she's pregnant!! Keep up the manner's lessons...maybe some of the dolts will eventually learn...if not, it will be entertaining to those watching. Keep us all posted on this.

Kathryn said...

I just don't understand this -- i have such strong metroangst (do I offer her the seat? or maybe she's just overweight? do i offer him the seat? will he think I'm calling him old?) that I am sometimes paralysed by anxiety, but I always err on the side of giving up my seat. And it feels good standing knowing that you're an everyday 'hero' to the person who took your spot. What is wrong with these folks?

rose said...

this is why people from madison hate "coasties"... they're so rude! unlike us friendly midwesterners.:) i definitely have given my seat to a pregnant lady in d.c., but i'm with kate on the anxiety thing, especially for polite old men who probably would have given their seat up to me.

Michelle said...

You just aren't riding the right public transportation in the right neighborhood. I am continually impressed by neighbors and fellow commuters on the 14th Street bus who are always nice to get-up for the preggos, elderly, disabled, and those with small children. A lot of times it is not even a big thing - they just see the person walking up the steps and get up and move. Admittedly, though, I notice that young, professional-looking males are not the best at this - my mom says it's because they are confused about what to do in a post-women's lib society. I think they are just dolts, to use gs's words, so keep on preaching sista.

Chrissy said...

Leading the suburban lifestyle I didn't face this much except it would drive me crazy when someone would come and sit or stand right next to me and light up a cigarette. I'd either walk away or complain loudly to whoever I was with but at times people don't care! One great thing about suburbia is stork parking. I love the super close spots in a crowded parking lot. I too love the image of you facing them down without being bitchy. You have such a knack for it!

Shanley said...

I agree with Michelle. On my bus, I've often had people offer up their seat to me when it's crowded. I usually decline, and one, the guy offered to hold my unwieldly bag and lunch. It was all sorts of sign language since he didn't speak much english, so he gets even more points for the extra effort.

On a related note, I was recently accused of being "so DC" by D and his friend in town from Ohio becuase of my reaction to this story:
It is a day where it was rainy or snowy, something that caused inside of the metro to be damp. Ohio friend was on the metro, stopped at a station. Girl comes running down the escalator in heels, reaches the bottom, slips and falls. She gets up, and makes the train. No one stops reading their papers to ask if she is ok except Ohio friend. He was absolutely shocked and upset that no one appeared to care about her. I said that I wouldn't have either. My position is that if she was hurt and needed help, she should say something, and frankly, she's an idiot for running on the wet escalator in heels.

Karma got me back in a good way, though - not two days later I slipped on the wet floor walking (not running) into the metro. And yes, someone asked if I was ok.

I love that you demand the seat, though. That's awesome. I would totally give it up for you. Sometimes, I just don't notice who else is on the metro. But if someone asks (and there's nothing wrong with asking), you ought to give up the seat.
It might also be fun to put your preggo belly uncomfortably close to their face until they move.

Shanley said...

p.s. weight of baby... 30 pounds, check. Filling out the ballot... Thanks for the hint!

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