Friday, July 6, 2007

Common Courtesy

I've always appreciated it when a man offers his seat to me on a bus or train. I never expect it and I nearly always say that I'm fine standing, but I think it's nice of them to do. (I'm a staunch believer in equality of the sexes, but I believe there's room for chivalry and courtesy amongst equality.) Now that I'm nearly 9 months pregnant I pretty much expect someone to offer me their seat on the crowded and hot buses and trains I take to and from work every day. So far someone has immediately offered one to me and each time I've gratefully taken it. This morning, however, I stood amongst SIX sitting men in their 20's and 30's on a crowded El and not a single one offered me their seat. Two stops later people were tightly pressed up against me and I was really getting uncomfortable. Finally an older woman saw me and offered me her seat- of all the people on that end of the train, the only other person who should be sitting down, got up! I felt bad accepting, but my back was already hurting and I had several stops left to go.

I understand that I'm not actually entitled to a seat, but I think it's common courtesy to offer yours to a largely pregnant woman if you are capable of standing. It's not just about men giving up their seats to a woman- I've offered my seat to someone who is elderly, pregnant, or otherwise looks like they need to sit down more than I do. I got to work seriously irritated at those men for looking at me and then looking back out the window. One more thing to add to my list of "things I want to teach my son".


  1. Jerks.

    I don't think it's a gendered thing. Young women should offer old people and large pregnant women their seats too - I certainly do.

  2. You're not alone. The Washington Post has had at least three articles/columns on this phenomenon. I was pregnant and taking the Metro to work and finally had to stop at 8 1/2 months after I collapsed in a weeping heap after standing for almost an hour on the way into work. I just couldn't take it anymore. I had one man look at me and quickly look away. When the woman next to him said, "Honey, you can have my seat. It's OBVIOUS you need to sit down", the man leapt up and said, "Oh, I didn't see you there. Here, have my seat. My wife would kill me if I didn't let you sit." Hmmm.

  3. I felt the same entitlement - and I have to say that I do miss the special treatment just a little!

    Not that everyone's so nice. I don't know how you didn't say anything rude -- when I was about 7 months pregnant, I had a couple cut in front of me at a Starbucks and I was so furious I could have smashed my lemon-poppy cake in their faces -- and that was only a 5 minute line.

  4. I agree with pbb. I give my seat up for pregnant women, injured/disabled and the elderly, and am teaching my daughters to do the same. I'm mad that no one gave you theirs :( Come to Boston, and you can have my seat. And a backrub!!

  5. Even before I had a kid, I always stood up and offered my seat to someone who looked like he or she needed it more than I did. Now I actively look for people and jump up.

    I was pretty lucky when I was pregnant, and I was always extremely grateful. Now I'm very grateful when people offer me a seat if I'm carrying my son. He fell asleep (all 30 pounds of him) when I was holding him while standing on the NYC subway. I was SO grateful when someone offered me a seat.

  6. Here here on the jerks comment. That is unforgivable. And yes, I would (of course) offer my seat as a young woman.

    When I was recovering from surgery, I had a neck brace and a cane. There were several times on the metro that no one offered me a seat and I always felt enraged at it. I mean, yes, it's entitlement, but it's also just a sense of communal respect that can be just UTTERLY lacking and that's just not ok.

    I'm glad you'll teach your son otherwise.

  7. I know it's easier said than done, but if you need a seat you should feel free to ASK for one. "Excuse me, I really need to sit down, could someone please give me their seat?"

    This drove me INSANE even before my pregnancy -- in fact, I remember posting about how all these college kids are always sitting at the front of the bus, the seats that are clearly marked "Please give up for the elderly or disabled," and when a very pregnancy woman or an elderly person gets on, the kids in the front fiddle intently with their iPods and avoid making any eye contact.

    I have to say, though, that once a teenage boy offered me his seat and I had to stop myself from pinching his cheek and saying, "Your mom would be so proud!"

  8. it totally shocks me how many people lack common courtesy in this world.i can def fall semester at UT i had ankle surgery and was on crutches for 6 weeks and people on the west campus bus didnt even give up there seat for like hello balancing on crutches and 1 foot here!its sad but true..the best we can do is be the better person and next time we see someone in that position, do the right thing. the whole experience really opened up my eyes to what people who are handicapped go through in every day life..