I’m on the home straight now with my pregnancy (as opposed to life in general I hope) In fact I am on maternity leave officially from 6pm this Friday – It seems strange to say your going on maternity leave when you only work 1 day a week, but having said that I more or less work all the hours that rex is at nursery so I’m not hanging out watching Escape to the Country all day – though my god I would love to do that. Normally all my work is done from home, but recently I have been travelling into town on one morning a week and what that has reminded me of is the good old London Commute and how much I bloody hate it.
The thing is everyone hates the rush hour commute don’t they, no one wants to be shoved like sardines into a metal box with coffee breath and smelly armpits shoved in your face, but that’s life. What does drive me slightly nuts though is the zombie like nature of people on the tube sometimes. Last week at 34 weeks pregnant I had to go into town at rush hour, so for the first time in two pregnancies I pinned on my ‘Baby on Board’ badge and waddled to the tube station. As presumed the station was pretty full and the trains arriving were much the same, but I got onto the tube with my badge glaring at the members of the public in front of me. Having not worn said badge before I sort of assumed it would be akin to wearing a flashing siren with a tannoy demanding that people immediately move and vacate their seats for me. However this was far from the case instead I got eyes firmly placed in phones as if glued to the screen and unable to look anywhere else. The other thing I noticed was the the awkward side glances, quickly looking up or across at me, and quickly looking away. I get that no-one wants to have to give up their seat at rush hour, and honestly If I hadn’t been in my third trimester and suffering from pretty bad Pelvic pain I wouldn’t have been too bothered, as I said before this was the first time I had worn my badge in two pregnancy’s.
I know people will be thinking, why didn’t you just say something? Ask someone to politely give up their seat for you? Well the answer is, I totally could have and on my way home I gently locked eyes with someone and in my terribly British way apologised profusely whilst asking if I might possibly bother him for his seat. He duly got up without making eye contact at all which perhaps was for the best. But on the way into town that morning as my blood pressure was rising I thought I would just stand there and see what happened, a little experiment shall we say. I counted that in each seating compartment there were 12 seats so in each carriage were were 24 plus the areas by the door where they have those padded bench things you can at least lean against. What struck me the most was that in the 24 seats that were in my carriage, ALL 24 people occupying those seats were on their phones, and I don’t mean listening to music but with eyes at least up and aware. No they were all face down in their phones, probably watching you tube clips of cute puppies dressed up as Santa (we’re all guilty) or watching the latest Netflix drama. I don’t know exactly why it pissed me off so much, but it really did (It’s lucky I didn’t have rex with me too or it may have tipped me over the edge.). I’m fairly sure most people get home from work and watch plenty of crap on TV (I know I do) so why do we need to spend every moment of unoccupied time watching a screen also? In an environment where you’re with other members of the public isn’t it nice to be a bit more aware of your surroundings?
I’m sure many of you have seen this animation by Steve Cutts, I fear it rings more true with every passing year.
I am just as guilty as the next person of spending too much time on my phone, but it is something I am acutely aware of, infact I wrote about it before in a previous blog Unsocial Media but I do try and stay off it in public, unless I’m listening to music or boring friends with another picture of Rex or Tony.
I digress, I have spoken to various friends about this, both female and male and I totally take on board that if someone isn’t wearing a badge when pregnant and on public transport there is most definitely that stressful feeling of ‘is she or isn’t she?’ People can’t be expected to guess and risk mortifyingly offending someone on their post christmas diet. I did that very thing about a year ago, a lady got on who was not at all big but had a round tummy which made me think she was pregnant, my instinct though was to immediately stand and offer her my seat. She then took on the terribly British role of apologising TO ME and saying she wasn’t in fact pregnant but had just had her baby a week ago and so had the postpartum tummy, I died inside, but she instantly, upon seeing my cheeks flush, said she was grateful for the offer anyway.
So what is the answer, I think it’s quite simple really. If you are pregnant and know you will need/want to sit down on public transport wear that badge and wear it in pride of place so it can’t be missed, it’s only fair. Failing that I’m afraid you might have to muster the courage to ask for a seat (though I hope you would be spotted first). Members of the public who aren’t pregnant/disabled/elderly, be aware, pull your eyes up and off your phone every so often to check the people around you, if it looks like someone is less able to stand than you then get off your backside and make room for them. Simples!
Please do leave a comment if you agree, disagree entirely, or have your own story to share, I’m open to all 🙂 xx