If a pregnant lady falls on you, it’s probably no one’s fault but your own.

One thing that Europe (or at least the countries we visited during our last trip: Poland, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic) is undeniably better at than the United States is public transportation.

For the most part, we found the subways/trains/buses/trams to be cleaner, faster, more efficient, etc.

Also (and almost more noticeably), the passengers on the public transit were more polite and more aware and more willing to act.

For instance, I was 28-30 weeks pregnant in Europe and was barely showing, but I (almost) never had to stand on any public transit ride. This was especially true in Hungary, where people would start shifting around before I even got on the bus/tram. Sometimes, this was super-unnecessary and I was embarrassed that people were making such a big deal about my growing bump, but also, it was incredibly kind and appreciated.

Then the Husband and I came back to Chicago and I realized how stark of a difference the riding experience was. For one thing, our buses (at least in Chicago) do not have pregnant people or people with kids listed/displayed as the ‘types’ of people that should be using the handicap seats, but of course, it’s semi-obvious (to me, but of course, I’m biased!). 

However, it must not be obvious to everyone because time and time again, I see people not moving for elderly passengers and pregnant women. Thankfully, my fellow public transit riders seem a little more aware and polite when it comes to disabled people and those moms and dads with small children.

This morning I got on a (full) bus and I walked past at least 15 populated seats before someone moved for me. And I am 8+ months pregnant (and look every bit of it, in my opinion)! No, I do not need a seat in the sense that I could stand and hang onto a bar as the bus accelerates and stops suddenly. But here’s the thing, my balance isn’t so great and my feet are often tired and the rest of me is definitely tired and if someone else is more able to stand, I feel they should do so. It’s common courtesy! I’m sure most people do not want a pregnant woman falling on them, which should be enough of an incentive to move!

Then another pregnant lady got on after me and thankfully someone moved for her, too.

But then an elderly man got on at the next stop and no one moved. Everyone was glued to their iPhones and ignoring the man who clearly should have been sitting. C’mon, people!

Females are not exempt from this rule either – I find that the most understanding public transit patrons are often females, who (often) will gladly give up their seats so I (or another person) may have them, but other women seem to think that being female is enough and should preclude them from needing to give up their seat. I’m not fully disagreeing, because I think men should be the first to move, but in all cases, a young and able-bodied man or woman should give up their seat for people who are not as able-bodied.

And I’m not talking about only handicap seats. If no one will move from handicap seats (today 50% of the handicap seats were occupied by 20-somethings playing on their iPhones), people in the other seats should still make the effort to give up their seats to riders who may need them. 

Isn’t this common sense?

Another lesson on public transit etiquette I’ve learned is that the way a person offers up their seat matters.

When a person wants to give up their seat to me (Yay! Such a nice gesture… in theory!), sometimes they will stay sitting and ask “oh, do you want to sit here?”

This makes me feel super-awkward, because then I feel like I’m kicking the person out of their seat that they clearly want to remain sitting in.

A better way to go about it is to say “please, sit!” while in the process of standing up and gesturing to the seat.

This little change makes a huge difference!

I will always take a seat that someone has already vacated, but I would never ask someone to move so that I could sit down, and I’m sure that other people feel the same.

Have I been guilty of not offering my seat to others? I’m sure. I have 5+ years of using Chicago public transit under my belt and I’m sure I have not always been a courteous rider, or even an aware rider. 

But this is the first time in my life in which I look like the type of person who should be sitting in the handicap (or any seats) on public transit, and so I’ve become more aware of the behavior of my fellow riders. I almost consider it a case study every time I get on the bus or train.

So my request is this:

Even if you don’t use public transit and this blog post doesn’t necessarily apply to you, always extend kindness to others, even in the smallest of ways.

Give up your seat to someone who needs it more.

Don’t ignore your fellow citizens (in any situation) because it’s more convenient to pretend you don’t see something so you don’t have to act.

I know that I’m feeling more and more convicted by my (former) lack of response to others as I become the one who needs the kindness!

Just a little something to think about today.


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