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Give Me Your $#@# Seat!!

On March 13, someone stood up and gave me their seat on the subway for the first time this pregnancy.

I was 30 weeks pregnant at the time.

The person who offered me their seat was a woman.

This offer has yet to be repeated.

Now, in all fairness, a few things should be noted: for one, it’s been winter most of my pregnancy and spotting a belly bump under my monster down coat is pretty difficult. I’m also a small girl to begin with, and people hesitate to guess you’re pregnant until it’s really obvious, lest they insult you. And finally, I like to give New Yorkers the benefit of the doubt on this thing: they’re not usually purposefully rude, simply purposefully unaware. When commuting it’s often best to zone out and not attract attention, so you don’t look around too much. My first pregnancy I didn’t get offered a seat until I was 32 weeks pregnant; I thought moving the time forward a couple of weeks a distinct improvement. I’m pretty laid-back about not getting a seat and don’t mind standing up for the 45-minute ride in general.

Yesterday, though, on my work commute, I got really peeved.

Scrambling onto a crowded train just before the doors closed, there was no place for me to hold onto except the ceiling. Two feet above me. Stretching wildly on tiptoe, I managed to hang on through the worst of the turns for a couple stops until the train emptied a bit, at which point I moved further in and grabbed onto an overhead strap.

All seats were still occupied, mostly by women. The seat directly in front of me, however, was held by a businessman in his mid-thirties reading a paper. Though he looked relatively comfortable, I felt bad for the poor guy; reading his paper was a bit difficult with my belly invading his personal space.

Yep, there was my big pregnant 31-week-old belly sticking right over the New York Times. Coat unzipped, maternity top on, no mistaking what it was. The man even glanced at it from time to time as if to say, “Is that thing still here?” But no move was made to hop up. Several women glanced uncomfortably at me, but didn’t meet my gaze or offer to stand up.

I understand that there’s no law requiring people to give a seat to a pregnant woman (though that’s debatable since there are disability seats reserved where you are required to give up your seat if needed). I understand that in the morning, you’re tired and cranky and not wanting to go to work, and the last thing you want to do is stand for a 45-minute ride so some chubby girl who got knocked up can ride in comfort. I understand it’s first come, first served.

But that particular morning, I was still sick with a cold, tired from taking care of a toddler with a cold, dreading work, and oh yes, PREGNANT! My physical multi-tasking had reached its limits. Which is why my resentment of this man who adamantly refused to give up his seat for me grew with every stop, until I was almost willing my water to break 9 weeks early just so I could ruin his shoes.

That’s not even the worst part, though. When we arrived at a busy stop only one stop from the end of the line, the car cleared out and plenty of seats opened up. He looked up at me and gestured towards an empty seat with his head, as if to say, “Hey, you should sit down, idiot. There’s a seat right there.”

Thanks for nothing.

I waddled with as much dignity as I could muster in the opposite direction – he can’t tell ME where to sit! – and sighed with relief as I sat down for five minutes.

Remind me to lose the jacket and wear a belly-baring tank top next commute. Maybe that’ll get some sympathy. Or maybe I should just get a t-shirt made that says, “I’m pregnant, stupid! Give me your $#@% seat!”

Think it would sell?


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