Thursday, May 2, 2013

Come on DC. Offer Your Seat to a Pregnant Woman

From Laurie:

As a professional (and human being) in both Washington, D.C. and New York, I have abided by many rules and adhered to unspoken etiquette.  A portion of the latter being: yield/hold doors for/give up your public transit seat to the elderly, parents with strollers or small children, and pregnant women.

You’d think that it would pay forward one day? Apparently, 50 percent of Metro riders need a refresher lesson from Miss Manners. It took quite a while for my now-seven months pregnant belly to look more than a post-Chipotle food baby, but the jig is up. I know I’m pregnant, you know I’m pregnant, I know you know I’m pregnant, and my stomach is actually heavy, so I can please have your seat?

I do my best to avoid crowded trains. I don’t like being stuck in some guy’s armpit on a normal day, so why subject my unborn child to inevitable elbowing? However, there are some days that you just gotta do it. Take the morning of May 1 for example. The Red Line was a mess due to a cracked rail, and there were no ghost trains running from Grosvenor, my home base. A woman (I’d put her in the 40-45 age bracket) standing on the platform right next to me, who very clearly looked at my belly (apparently no one has seen a pregnant person before, because everyone seems to stare at me), hightailed it onto the train and took the one empty seat. Really? Since I hadn’t quite woken up yet, I chose not to call her out, so I silently hoped she would burn her tongue on a cup of coffee. Thankfully, a very nice gentleman immediately got up. I wanted to ask for his wife’s phone number so I could tell her what a polite husband she has.

Those types are hard to find, however.  On the afternoon of the 30th, after letting one Red Line train pass by, I boarded the second. The lone empty seat was taken by an elderly man (age tromps pregnancy in my book). However, there was a very willing and able man sitting in priority seating, pretending that I didn’t exist. The woman next to him glared at him in horror, mumbled obscenities and two minutes later, told me to take her seat. In her honor, I loudly rustled my newspaper in his ear.

I’d like to thank the lady on an Orange Line train on Monday the 29th who told me that she remembers being pregnant on the train and would give up her seat in a heartbeat; and the guy on the Grosvenor-bound Red Line train on Thursday afternoon the 25th who looked around the train for a seat for me and body-blocked it until I got there.

For the chick who pushed her way in front of me to get on the escalator at Dupont Circle, and the guy on Orange Line who looked up from his book, saw my belly and then went back to reading…do you believe in karma?

I’m not pulling an entitlement card here. I’ve taken great care of myself, am in good shape, but my feet blow up like an allergic reaction gone wrong when on them for stretches of time. Think of last summer’s 100+ degree weather plus walking around the National Mall all day with your family and thousands of your closest friends during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Unpleasant, right? Besides, you’d be upset if an able-bodied person ignored your standing 7 months pregnant wife/sister/best friend/daughter/cousin, wouldn’t you? I’d do it for them.

Other items:
Stessel on riders' top 10 complaints about Metro (WUSA)
MoCo, Metro battle over Silver Spring Transit Center (WTOP)
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