Sunday, August 28, 2005

Pregnancy pangs

No, I'm not pregnant. I was on the El (Chicago's elevated version of the subway train) and then on the buses. As I waited to get on the bus, two young men told me to go ahead of them to get on the bus. Such courtesy! I was thrilled and touched. The bus was fairly full, no seats were left, although I was fortunate enough to get one near the front because of those two men and their kind manners. But then, a few stops down the street, a very pregnant woman got on the bus. Not a single person got up to offer her a seat. There she was, with a good 8 months of fetus hanging out in front of her, her hand to her belly, the other wrapped tightly around the pole to stop her from swaying as the bus hit potholes and curbs, and I was appalled. Not a single man offered his seat. Nor a woman. Within 30 seconds I jumped up and told her, "Why don't you take my seat?" She hesitated, then nodded and sat down.

But what appalled me even more was what happened after that. First, she acted as if I'd done something wrong. If I were 8 months pregnant and carrying a belly like a house in front of me, I'd be demanding a seat that instant on a moving vehicle! But second, it was how the WOMEN all gave me dirty looks, as if I'd done something anti-ERA, anti-feminist, in giving her the seat. What has happened here? A pregnant woman deserves special treatment. Special care, and basic courtesy. She should have a seat. She is carrying another life inside of her and at that point in the pregnancy it's weighing a lot, too. But the women were all giving me dirty looks. Hey! I've been through sexual harassment while living abroad. I know what it's like to be treated badly by men in power. But when I was an investment banker in NYC, I appreciated the fact that men would open doors for me and let me into elevators and vehicles first. It shows grace and good manners, not anti-PC fascism.

Everyone! Be nice to pregnant women. Your mother was once one of them, too. Give them your seat on public transport. Smile. And please don't give dirty looks to people who were taught that it is courtesy to give a pregnant woman a seat first. What has happened to our society? Please!