I was always taught that you give up your seat on a bus, train or subway for a pregnant woman or the elderly. Most people I know were brought up the same way. Yet somehow, I have seen a ridiculous amount of pregnant women standing on the PATH (the subway to Jerseyans) without a single person, male or female, offering them a seat.
I know that it is sometimes difficult to tell if a woman is expecting; come on, let’s be honest. But when you see a woman resting her hand on her very large belly that is rounder than that of say an overweight person, you offer her your seat or politely just stand up making the seat available.
In the last week, I have seen two women who are clearly having babies denied a seat on the PATH which I think is disgusting (note: yes, I am standing!). The first time was when the conductor had to literally ask passengers to get up from their seats for a woman who looked as if she was ready to pop.
The next time this happened, I got kind of annoyed and said something. A woman got on the train and stood next to me. She seemed to get a little lost in the shuffle while boarding. It took a minute or two to notice she was pregnant, but she was trying to make it as obvious as possible.
In the seats in front of us were two passengers, a man and woman. They both acknowledged the woman, but didn’t offer her their seat. I understand that they may not have recognized she was pregnant, but in time, my gut tells me they did. These two repeatedly stared this woman down, kept looking at her and for the reactions of those around them. It was almost like they didn’t know what to do or were hoping no one saw them deny this woman seating.
In the end, the pregnant woman was left standing. As I approached the Christopher Street station, I took it upon myself to say, “Don’t you think it would be nice to offer your seat to a pregnant woman?” I don’t know if anyone offered that woman their seat, but at least I knew I did my part to help her.
It’s definitely tough to tell if someone is expecting, but when in doubt, just get up and stand; give women an option to sit. If nothing else, you help out another human being. If you have two legs, stand and be happy you paid it forward.