They say chivalry is dead, which may be true, but in so many ways, it just feels like human decency is.
The other day, I hopped on the subway with Ella to take her to her appointment at Sick Kids. Driving down there is a massive pain and parking is ridiculous, so I find the subway easier. Don’t worry, my double stroller quickly morphs into a single so I don’t take up more space than the average stroller.
We got on and the train was pretty full. I stood next to the door. Ella began crying and I knew right away she was hungry. So as we shuffled along to the next station, I got her bottle ready and started feeding her, using the stroller for support. A couple stations down, someone got up, and I figured I’d grab the seat and finish feeding her. Nope. A guy who was probably about 25 grabbed the seat without batting an eye.
I wish I could say that things like that are rare, but it’s just not true. I can count on one hand the amount of times I was offered a seat on the subway during BOTH my pregnancies. When Jas and I went to New York, I always got a seat. In NEW YORK, a city that is supposedly full of self obsessed people too into their New Yorkers, or cell phones, to bother acknowledging another human being, let alone offer preggos their seats. Meanwhile in Canada, I got the averted gaze, the race to the free seat.
I get it. We’re so worried about offending people. No one wants to lose the pregnant or just fat gamble. And some may argue feminism means the equality of the sexes, so men shouldn’t have to give up their seats, but really it’s not feminism so much as equal poor treatment of all, no matter age, sex, or physical ability.
I remember reading a debate between two people arguing both sides of the seat offer. One side said the day of pregnancy catering is over, while the other argued that it should happen. Some pregnant women float around, feeling great, and gain all of four pounds – just tummy weight! So, fine, stand on the subway and cram your teeny bump with the masses, but an offer should be made. It doesn’t mean it will always be accepted, but you never know if that pregs is feeling sick or overwhelmed or just plain fat, and that older woman may have a bad back, so just asking if she’d like your seat could be a huge relief.
Of course, it goes beyond the subway, and life above ground is no better. I used to think that I took up more space, so I would always stand off to the side, letting others pass and hold the door open for others. But I just got so sick of the attitude I would get; the lack of thank yous or even a sign that you appreciate me standing here doing something nice for you. Now, I just barrel through on my turn, and you better get out of the way. I say excuse me, but still get rolled eyes and annoyed looks that I actually need space on the sidewalk, so you and your 8 friends can’t all walk arm in arm.
A couple weeks ago, the five of us were at the store and I was just getting into the cash to pay, my hands full. An older man looked at us, said excuse me, and went in front of us to the cash. When Jas called him out on it, he just said, “I know, sorry.” So you knowingly cut in front of us to pay because you are just more important than us? At Jason’s outrage, I told him it had happened before. There’s been a few times where a man has given me the once over, deemed me just a mum, and done something obviously socially inappropriate, because, why? Their time is more important than mine? Yes, I’m not on a lunch break and don’t need to rush back to an office, but I’m far from on my own schedule. All three of my kids need to eat and sleep on their schedule. We can go from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye. Would you rather that I quickly get in and out or would you prefer to listen to two infants scream and a toddler throw a tantrum?
I really can only hope that my three children grow up with grace, intelligence, manners, and empathy. Although really, I’ll just be happy if they aren’t assholes.