Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Never on a Friday

The bus is packed. Bodies are pressed against bodies, windows fogged from the humidity of the rain outside coupled with the warmth of the people inside. Despite the fact that most people look showered and ready to work downtown, the bus smells like an old, wet dog. You spot the odor-culprit muttering to himself and rocking back and forth. Sighing, you heave your computer bag onto your shoulder and collect the various other bags containing your lunch, conference materials, and the cookies you're bringing in for a co-worker's birthday. You manage to grab onto a pole as the bus lurches to a start, and two of your bags swing dangerously close to the women sitting in front of you. She looks up, annoyed by the near-death encounter with your baked goods. You smile an apology, she takes in the fact of your bags, your exhaustion, and your swollen belly, and she returns comfortably to the book she was reading for the remainder of the ride.

"You're clearly and obviously pregnant now!," chirps the cheerful words from the baby website you read once a week to find out how big the baby is (the size of a Harry Potter book!). "People will smile at you on the street, give your belly unwanted pats, and stand up to give you their seat on the bus."

Except that there's a limit to even the nicest commuter's willingness to give up their seat, and I have found that it is correlated to two things: weather and day of the week. If it's raining on a Friday and you are so huge that you look like you're going to go into labor any second, be prepared to hold onto a pole while balancing 14 packages for an entire train ride, all while trying desperately not to wet your pants.

Sunny Mondays are the best. Filled with the good will of a weekend, event BU Frat boys will offer you their seat on the bus. Wednesdays and Thursdays are tricky. Women are more likely to give up their mid-week seat, more likely to stand up during the evening rather than morning commute, and are most likely to offer their seat if they are somewhere between the ages of 25 and 45. Younger women remain engrossed in their cell phones, and even when they look up, they will probably scowl the gross-ness of your condition, and then promptly return to their text message. Pregnant women are the most likely to give up their seat for other, more pregnant women, something that gives us a chance to smile at each other in a "don't other people suck?" kind of way. Most of the time, men aren't interested in giving up their seat. Chivalry is probably dead and apparently labor isn't hard enough. I'm pretty sure they're not remaining seated because they think that no good feminist would want them to stand, but I could be wrong. This is Boston, after all.

As a daily commuter, I vow to teach our children how to give up their seat for the elderly, the disabled, the exhausted-looking, the woman with a stroller, and the pregnant. I vow to teach my someday son to be chivalrous, to look up from his ipod (or whatever device) when people get on the train. I have every intention of becoming the woman who asks for a seat during my 10th month of pregnancy when it's snowing outside. But the next time it's raining on a Friday, I will probably drive.

1 comment:

Cris said...

Been there--but I do think that most people don't even realize that you're prgnant, even if they take a second to look at you (the fact is, those people that don't want to give up their seat usually don't look on purpose, so they can plead ignorance). I was on the train a few weeks ago and only at the last minute realized that the woman in front of me, standing, was pregnant. And then I thought...what if she's not pregnant, what if she's just a little chubby and I offer her my seat and I offend her?? So, I decided to just get up and walk away from my seat and say nothing...she took it, which was good, and I avoided any potential embarassment!