“Do you give up your seat for pregnant women on the metro?”

Photo by PoPville flickr user random lady

I don’t understand how the universe works but for some reason, reader questions tend to arrive in themes. Yesterday’s touched on a controversial post delivery topic but I think today’s should be more straightforward. A reader wonders:

“I’m 36 weeks (and very visibly) pregnant, but have only had a seat offered to me once. I take the metro everyday and luckily have a short commute, so it’s not that big of a problem, but I imagine other women might feel differently. Not sure if people simply don’t notice, or don’t want to notice in fear of offending her, or don’t think it’s necessary to offer up their seat.”

Or maybe not straightforward at all – my wife also mentioned she was almost never given a seat on metro when in the late stages of pregnancy. Is this a courtesy that no longer applies today? I remember my grandma laying in to me when I must’ve been like 8 years old for not getting up for a pregnant woman. Are those days long gone or are we just too focused on our phones to notice someone could use a seat more than us? Sometimes I think we’d be in a better place if a few of our grandparents did some public service announcements…

274 Comment

  • Anyone who doesn’t get up for a visibly pregnant woman should be ashamed of themselves. It’s just awful.

    • Why can’t she just ask if she wants a seat?

      • Why can’t you just ask if she wants your seat?

        • Because I’m not actively paying attention to each and every passenger around me to determine who’s pregnant or not. I’m an infrequent metro rider, and the rare times I’m taking it, I’m usually checking directions and worried about missing my stop.

          • So you have an excuse for your self-absorption? I’m glad that makes it ok.

          • How long does it take you to look at a metro map? You’re only going in one of two directions. You’re sharing a space with people where your movements and interactions may impact others. There’s no excuse for being in a bubble.

          • And when I get off the metro I have to walk to x location, so I’m checking those directions as well…maybe even a train transfer.

            The onus isn’t on me or anyone to determine who needs special treatment outside of those sitting in priority seating. Those folks should be on the lookout.

          • No, the onus isn’t on you per se, but we should all be looking out for each other, especially when it requires a minimal amount of effort (glancing up for a quick check of what’s around you is soooooooo hard). It would make the world a much better place

        • There are seats on every train designated for pregnant women and disabled people. Anyone sitting in those seats should have to get up first.

        • Because I don’t want to assume a larger woman is pregnant.

        • anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to ask someone if they’d like your seat because she looks pregnant is a damn fool. just try it sometime, see what happens.

      • You’re kidding right?

        • I believe in 100% giving up a seat for a pregnant women. But people do have long commutes and their is nothing self absorbed about being sitting down reading a book or newspaper or on your phone and not knowing what going on ( unless you are in a those front 4 seats which are specifically for those in need). I commute 45 minutes each way and I often use that time to invest in reading or writing emails to friends and family. I don;t feel like a bad person for being busy on the metro rail. Can people look up to check their surroundings more often sure, but a pregnant women could also just ask for the seat if she sees her fellow commuters have not noticed her condition.

        • Seems to me like it is about what perspective you are coming from. If I were to see a pregnant lady who needed a seat, I would offer it to her. But maybe pregnant ladies shouldn’t wander around waiting for people do read their minds and do things for them that make them more comfortable. Again, I would offer help/comfort/a seat to a pregnant lady, but maybe she shouldn’t expect it.

      • Right? I wouldn’t have any issue with a pregnant woman asking me for my seat. A lot of times I really don’t pay attention to those around me, so I might not notice a pregnant or elderly person that needs my seat. Just ask and I’ll give it up no problem.

        • The thing about asking for a seat is that it’s hard to pick one person. Who knows if they have an invisible injury or have had a terrible day or sleepless night and just don’t have the energy to stand. And it’s really embarrassing to just announce “could someone please let me sit down?” to an entire train car.
          Related PSA: I didn’t realize this until I broke my leg, but the reserved seats are by the door for a reason. Able folks at the front of the bus wouldn’t get up for me if there were open seats further back, but it’s *really hard* to fumble back that far on crutches/in pain/having trouble balancing. Just let me sit next to the door, please.

          • If I need a seat, I ask the person closest. I can’t imagine you’re going to have to go down an entire row before someone gets up or resort to shouting, but if you do, so what?
            I think the real issue is people in DC are just uncomfortable asking for what they want. From seats on the metro to properly toasted bagels, they just want it to fall into their laps, so they won’t have to bother asking. A silly trend indeed.

          • I believe in 100% giving up a seat for a pregnant women. But people do have long commutes and their is nothing self absorbed about being sitting down reading a book or newspaper or on your phone and not knowing what going on ( unless you are in a those front 4 seats which are specifically for those in need). I commute 45 minutes each way and I often use that time to invest in reading or writing emails to friends and family. I don;t feel like a bad person for being busy on the metro rail. Can people look up to check their surroundings more often sure, but a pregnant women could also just ask for the seat if she sees her fellow commuters have not noticed her condition.

          • I think metro bus is harder people people have less room to shuffle. when I broke my leg and was standing right by the driver someone wanted to give me their seat but there was no way for me to crutch by them the bus was sooo crowded. I am sure most people did not see me!

          • When I was pregnant and metro-ing, I would ask generally if anyone could give me their seat rather than calling out one person – for one thing, there are lots of disabilities that aren’t visible to the eye. You never know who has what medical condition, who has a migraine that day, etc. I never wanted to put anyone on the spot by asking directly. Asking in a loud voice if anyone was able to let me sit down usually worked fine, people looked up and were happy to get up. (Well, maybe not happy, but they did it!)

        • Oh jeez…you must be a man.

      • In Anon Spock’s defense, the announcement on the bus says to “please move for passengers *who request a seat*” — so it is not just Anon Spock. Perhaps they should change the PSA? (Playing devil’s advocate here…)

    • Oh and pretending you don’t notice and keeping your nose in your phone/newspaper/book is even worse.

      • I disagree. I give up my seat all the time for pregnant women, someone with a child a senior citizen. However I metro for 45 minutes on 1 line in the morning and at night. It gets so crowded that its hard to see 1 foot in front of you never mind assess the entire situation of each passenger entering or exiting the metro. Two years ago I broke my leg and was on crunches and everyone always offered me a seat. However when I switched to the boot people could not tell I might have needed to sit down. During the first week it was painful to stand on my heel for a while and after 2 stops when no seats opened up I asked a man reading his paper if I could have his spot and pointed to my boot. He said of course and made room. I was not annoyed that no one had offered, I get it. Just ask if people cannot tell.

        • I completely commiserate, but as someone said below, if you’re sitting in one of the reserved seats, you need to pay attention. Zone out anywhere else, but you gotta keep an eye out and give up the special seat if someone else needs one.

  • You always give up your seat for the elderly, a pregnant woman, or anyone that could benefit by not standing. It’s just common courtesy, not that people these days abide by that.

    • Elderly and disabled / injured people for sure. Pregnant women ? I don’t know. Inasmuch as i want to help, there are a few bad apples in the preggo crowd, people that believe pregnancy entitles them to everything bc of the “miracle of life”.

      • Your reasoning is terrible; there are probably elderly and disabled people who act the same. You should give up your seat to anyone who needs it if you are able.

        • Difference is that in most cases, elderly or disabled people did not choose to be this way. Pregnant women usually choose (not going into PP debate). Their choice imposes a burden on me.
          Check this out: i love listening to loud music. My choice right ? However, in a metro, it places a burden on the other passengers so i don’t do it or i wait until i’m alone. Choices you make impact others but doesnt give you an entitlement card

          • Are you treating seating like welfare?

          • HaileUnlikely

            Are you m*therf*cking serious?

          • That’s a completely absurd analogy.

          • Wow. Not okay.

          • This is the worst argument. People use it against maternity leave all the time, too. “Why should I have to inconvenience myself in even the slightest way because YOU CHOSE to have a baby?” Guess what, even if you are just a complete assh*le and compassion is not enough of a reason to give up a seat for someone who needs it more than you do, society needs women to have babies so it can continue to function. We all have an interest in a healthy birthrate, and making life difficult/impossible for pregnant women deters thoughtful women from reproducing.

      • Making a seat available to a pregnant woman is a matter of safety, not her hypothetical false sense of entitlement. If a pregnant woman lost her balance and fell, she could do real harm to the baby and/or herself. And losing her balance/falling becomes a much bigger risk as her center of gravity changes and ligaments loosen. Why risk it?

      • Are you serious right now? I am 36 weeks pregnant right now, and I certainly don’t think that this entitles me to everything. In fact, I try to do most things on my own. I am; however, huge, swollen, exhausted, uncomfortable and everything small thing takes about 100x the effort, including standing on the Metro. My balance is off. I’ve had a healthy pregnancy… it is worse for women with health problems or complications. Also, in the event that the train is super crowded, I feel unsafe standing and risking someone to running into my belly because people shove their way through. The logic that the “preggo crowd” is taking advantage is ridiculous. I have no idea if you are a man or woman, but you definitely lack empathy. If you are a perfectly healthy person, particularly sitting in the seats close to the door, stand up. It’s common courtesy. I hope that you never need it one day and someone thinks the way you do.

      • Lots of curmudgeonly comments in this and the breastfeeding posts. Hope you never get old and that you don’t need to depend on all these newly- or soon-to-be born inconveniences to wipe your hating ass one day.

  • Of course it SHOULD be an obvious yes. But it only takes one angry reaction to an honest mistake to break some people of the habit of assuming anything about a woman with a belly. Just like men who no longer hold doors for women because they got snapped at once. Or any other kind of helpful behavior that makes a person feel diminished or insecure or some other thing they would rather not feel.
    (I do when I notice. But I admit to frequently being deep in email in an attempt to protect my evenings from work encroachment.)

    • This is very poorly written. My apologies.

    • You don’t have to say “PLEASE SIT YOU ARE PREGNANT” just say “would you like to sit?”

      • +1 quincy

      • THANK YOU. Who are these people who are saying “please take my seat because you’re obviously pregnant or morbidly obese”??

      • As someone who is well within a healthy weight range, and had someone seriously say “oh! is there a baby inside?” … yeah this. You could just offer the seat without a comment.

        • yes +1 to this. no need to explain why you are offering the seat. maybe you are just a nice person (imagine!) and thought she looked tired.

      • +1. I am a non-pregnant woman and men have very occasionally offered me their seats on the bus. I have never assumed that they thought I was pregnant. Just thought they were being chivalrous dudes.

    • I don’t hold doors for anyone unless they’re within reaching distance. I can’t stand it when someone holds the door open for me and I have to hustle over to not seem like a prick. Just let the door close, I’ve been opening doors my whole life and it’s not that big of a deal.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Hah. The doors at my office are stupid heavy. It is not a big deal to open it from a closed position, but having it swinging back into you as you are trying to open it and walk through it is enough to knock somebody down (I have actually seen somebody inattentively walk into the opening as the door was swinging back and it did actually knock him down). So I usually hold those.

  • If you want a seat, just ask for one. (I am a formerly pregnant person.)

  • Pregnant and elderly people

  • After hearing some horror stories of well-meaning commuters ruining someone’s day — by offering their seats to a woman who turned out to NOT be pregnant, just wearing an unflattering outfit — I never proactively offer my seat. Instead, I try to make some eye contact with pregnant-looking women (with plausible deniability about inferring pregnancy). If makes any indication that she wants me to move, I will happily give up my seat!

    I am a woman, though. Perhaps men can get away with offering proactively — if the woman turns out not to be pregnant, he can just act like he was being chivalrous.

    • I understand the concern, but think it’s still possible to indicate that you’re willing to give up a seat without implying that someone is pregnant. Just make eye contact and point to the seat you are in? You could be offering for any reason

    • Yeah this is my worry, is that she’s not actually pregnant and I can’t beg off on the chivalry thing like guys can. That said, if it’s super obvious and there’s no question, I usually get up and offer.

    • I just don’t get this! I’m a woman who regularly offers seats to other women because, meh, I don’t feel like sitting, or her shoes look uncomfortable, or she’s too short to reach the hand bar, or I’m getting off in a couple of stops. When did it become a crime to offer someone a seat just to be nice?

      • You are a very kind commuter! But, it’s not enough of a “norm” in my view. I have never once witnessed this in my 7 years of twice-daily Metro commuting. If a woman offered me her seat while I was wearing an empire-waist top, I would never think, “she is being nice,” I would think, “oh god I look pregnant!”

      • I can understand not offering your seat to someone who’s kind of borderline pregnant, but most women in their third trimester don’t just look like their bloated. I give my seat up to anyone who looks like they’re struggling. A woman with a little extra girth around the middle is probably fine. If you’re waddling down the aisle, your feet probably need a rest.

        • I used to be a bit heavier when I lived in NYC a few years ago and I have the misfortune of carrying most of it in my gut/torso (I’m a woman). I got offered seats on the subway with annoying (to me) frequency, always by women. I usually declined, but the worst was when they INSISTED, “No, you’re SURE??? ARE YOU SURE YOU DON”T WANT TO SIT DOWN??’ Made me hate myself and riding the subway. I stopped wearing anything that lacked a defined waist because of this. It was really humiliating. I probably could have been cooler about it, but just…don’t assume that anyone who has a belly is pregnant, please. In DC, people are less thin overall than NYC so I haven’t had this problem thank god!

          (Also, I am in the pro-offering your seat to people camp and do it regularly, but just…don’t force the issue if they say no and assume you know their life story).

    • About three days ago I asked a woman I had just met when she was due. She wasn’t pregnant. I will never do something like that again,

    • You can also just stand up and move towards the doors, without explicitly saying you are offering your seat. Then if she needs it, she can take it, and if not, you’re closer to the doors ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I always ask if I see someone who looks like they need the seat more than me (elderly, pregnant, with kid in tow, etc.) But one time I got up and a teenager swooped in between me and a poor elderly lady who I thought would take my seat, and sat down. So now I’m very proactive about saying something like “Excuse me, Ma’am, would you like to sit down?”
    However, I’d guesstimate around 10% of people actually take me up on the offer. Sometimes I think people aren’t being intentionally rude but just assume they’d rather not make work for themselves when a lot of times people refuse the offer.

  • If I can assure myself that someone is pregnant, I do it all the time. But I am also deathly afraid of embarrassing someone who is not actually pregnant, and sometimes err on the side of caution. This is especially true in the winter, when people are wearing bulky clothes and it’s hard to tell.

    • This. Having watched it happen with a friend of mine (she wasn’t pregnant looked it due to a health condition), it can really ruin someone’s day to be told in some manner that “hey you look pregnant”. So if I see someone who is so obviously pregnant, then yes, but otherwise, I’ll first attempt the furtive “make eye contact”, maybe gesture to my seat strategy advocated by Sarah above.

  • I give up my seat for the elderly, but with everyone being so fat these days it’s hard to tell who is “visibly pregnant.” You risk offending someone greatly if you assume pregnancy when they’re not. Then that person who was falsely accused of being pregnant would write into Popville so everyone could know that someone offended them and we all could comment on it.

    • You can always vacate a seat without making it clear why you’re standing up. I will typically try to make eye contact with whomever I’m giving my seat to, but I never ask if they want it. If they do, they’ll grab it, if not, no big deal. I do it because I usually don’t feel like interacting with anyone in the morning or on my way home from work, but it also has the added benefit of avoiding awkward situations like that.

      • Exactly. So instead of telling a woman she’s pregnant, just ask, “would you like my seat.” You can be kind without being invasive.

        • It’s pretty easy to non-verbally communicate what you’re doing. I never say anything when I get up, so there’s no embarrassment if I’ve mistaken a belly for a tummy or estimated the age or ability of someone to stand incorrectly. I’ve never had an issue with the incorrect person taking the seat. It’s really not that hard to be an observant and polite person on transit.

      • HaileUnlikely

        I usually actively issue an invitation for a specific person to take the seat if I am getting up (much more frequently because the person I intend to give it to is visibly elderly than because the person is visibly pregnant). I’ve gotten up with the intent of giving my seat to somebody who appeared to be 80+ years old and ended up having a man or woman younger than me just swoop in, plop down, and start playing with their f*cking iPhone as if they didn’t notice the 80-year-old who they just barged past to get to the seat. I’d rather have an old person or a fat person get all offended over me offering them a seat (has not happened to me one single time in 12 years though!) than have a 23-year-old selfish little ___ barge in and take it when I’m trying to give it to the old guy or the pregnant woman.

    • +1 This has happened in at least 1 recent rrr. Fat woman was assumed pregnant, and she was none to happy about it.

      • Honestly, I just don’t care about this. At all. I mean, I never confirm that someone is pregnant (as opposed to fat), but I will ask someone who LOOKS pregnant if they’d like the seat. (I’m not just getting up, because inevitably some nitwit will swoop in and take the seat.) If that pregnant looking person isn’t pregnant and takes offense, well, that’s on them, not me. I’m not going to stress about being courteous, or stop being courteous, because someone is sensitive about their weight.
        Also, if you see someone with a big belly who you feel like might need to sit down, does it really matter if she’s pregnant or fat? She still can use the seat. Why make this more complicated than it is?
        Often (not always, but often) the “I’m not paying attention, so you should just ask” and the “I am mortally afraid of offending a total stranger, so I won’t ask” are just camouflage for “I like my seat, and I got here first, but I don’t want to admit that, so these seem like decent excuses for not getting up for someone who needs the seat more than me . . . “

        • That may be the case. I can’t speak to other people and their motivations. I offer my seat to people who obviously need it: cane, crutches, etc, and the rest can ask, and I’ll get up even if they don’t look injured or pregnant. Seems like a fair scenario to me.

    • In my experience, pregnant bellies look much different than an overweight belly. The stomach is usually smooth and very round. No bulging and no layers and also very concentrated and usually protruding out. If the person is wearing a loose garment and is not in the final trimester, I can see the possible confusion. But pregnant women don’t look obese to me. And obese/overweight women don’t look pregnant, they look overweight. The only exception in my experience is women with fibroid issues, huge fibroids can look like a baby. But if you have a fibroid that big, then you too deserve a seat.

  • Broken leg, canes, etc I’ll always offer; otherwise, I’ll wait until the person asks. I’ve offered to older folks and all but 1 time I was turned down.
    If you need a seat, just ask for one. I’d be much more concerned if the post was: I needed a seat, asked and was refused.

    • How do you pick who to ask for the seat? What if the person you are asking turns out to be disabled? That’s why people who can stand should offer to anyone who looks like they might do better sitting

      • I just said how I pick…signs of disability: cast, cane, noticeable limp/slow walking…you get the idea. Rarely would one of those garner someone who wasn’t disabled.
        Rather than try to figure out who may do better sitting, the person in need can always just ask if no one gets up quickly.

      • How about this:

        You: Excuse me, may I sit down?
        Sitter: (apologetic smile) I’m sorry, it has been a long day, would you mind asking someone else?
        You: Sure, no problem!

        Then you can ask someone else. Or, more likely, someone within earshot will offer you their seat.

      • When I was pregnant, I never singled out one person, I would ask generally, is anyone able to let me sit down?

  • You can always just ask if someone would like to sit without implying that they are pregnant. How many people say “Oh I see you’re pregnant, would you like to sit?”

  • I think people are likely too engrossed in their phones/iPads/books etc. to really notice what’s going on around them. I do notice many people either have their heads down or they look away after seeing someone in need get on the bus. There is a man who gets on my bus most days, carrying his young daughter in his arms without a stroller/Ergo/etc. I know where he gets on so if I am seated anywhere near the front, I will offer him my seat. There was one day where it was a round robin of people getting up for other people in need and it was amazing.
    You may get some comments from folks that say something to the effect of “Pregnancy is a choice, not a disability. I’m not getting up for you.” To this I say “Eh, that’s your right but hopefully you’ll have kinder people around you should you ever find yourself in need.”

    • People could use a break from those things anyway. Make it a habit to look up from your toy when the train stops.

      • Yes. If you have a long commute, please interrupt your reading (which usually causes you to lose your place) every 2-3 minutes.

    • Being so engrossed in your phone that you have no idea what’s going on around you also makes you more of a target for thieves, in case people need more incentive beyond just being good cohabitants of our city.

  • I think it is definitely the right thing to do in that situation, but not having taken Metro in a while, can not attest to whether it is norm or not.

    It does remind of something interesting from when I was studying in Spain about 10 years ago though. Apparently there had been a trend of “pregnant” women using this a tactic on the metro and bus system as a way of pickpocketing people. We were advised by our program adviser as a result to never give up seats for pregnant women as a result. Doubt that is the case in DC, but would be interested if that plays a role.

  • I had people offer seats to me regularly when I was pregnant one year ago. The key is to make eye contact. Sometimes I would ask if I was truly desperate.

  • You don’t ask if she is pregnant, you just offer her a seat.

  • Hardly anyone ever gave up a seat to me during my two pregnancies. I had people even look at my belly, look me in the eye, and then not get up.

    The worst was the day when I was 38 weeks pregnant and gave up my seat on the bus to an elderly woman. The five 20-something males around me didn’t get up, and even once I was standing (I could see how it could be hard to tell if a woman is pregnant if she’s sitting) no one offered me their seat.

    • To play devil’s advocate, if I saw someone (anyone, including a pregnant woman) give up their seat, I would assume they were fine with standing.

      • This is true. I offered my seat to a pregnant lady on the train a few weeks ago, and she smiled and said, no, I’m fine, but thanks! For the next ten minutes, everyone who saw her offered her a seat, and she finally just took one probably because she knew it was a lost cause. ๐Ÿ™‚ But it’s a nicer problem to be offered many seats than none at all.

        • Exactly. Like a lot of etiquette, it’s more about showing kindness and respect than addressing an actual need.

  • I almost always do, if I’m paying attention and nearby the person (elderly, pregnant, or kid(s) in tow). Bus or Metro.
    The pregnant woman thing is tricky. The trick is not actually mention the work “pregnant.” 50% of the time they say “no thanks” in a friendly manner. The other 50% accept willingly. I’ve probably received only two snide looks/comments in a few years of commuting.
    Still, it’s better here than the passive-aggressive large button that some pregnant women wear in the UK on the the Tube. That’s a bit batty.

  • Yes, I either give up my seat or make an inquiry all the time for anyone who looks like they might need it. And I routinely refuse offers from others to give me, a 46-year-old non-pregnant, non-disabled woman a seat, but I always smile and say thanks. I distinctly recall other readers a while ago wanting to deny a woman pregnant with twins access to a restroom if she wasn’t a restaurant patron. I’m not surprised there are a lot of people declining to give up a seat to a visibly pregnant woman. I find it sad.

    • If I recall correctly, this was in cohi near target where there are no less than 5 other restaurants very nearby. Buying a $2 soda was also an option.
      The level of privilege expected by the pregnant/child having is astonishing. The rules still apply to you.
      With seats, just ask if you need one. Easy as pie.

      • You say “privilege,” I say “basic kindness toward someone in inflexible circumstances.”

        • Expecting policies to bend to your convenience due to a circumstance you’ve created I.e. The bathroom thing when you could cheaply comply (buy a drink) or go elsewhere (numerous restaurants doors away) OR the guy who felt comfortable impeding traffic to load his 2 kids in the car rather than acquiring a home with off street parking OR letting kids run amuck and the indignation when someone tells you to stop
          That’s privilege to me

          • That is called living in the real world. People do things that are inconvenient to you from time to time.

          • Yup. My thoughts exactly when it came to the post about the pregnant woman and the bathroom.

          • Oh, circumstances you’ve created are exempt? Great. I’m no longer getting up for people on crutches, because they probably created that circumstance themselves skiing, or drunk-stumbling home, or texting while walking.

          • Exempt from expecting policies to change to suit you…..sounds good to me, but when have you ever seen anyone on crutches complain about not being able to use x places bathroom without being a customer?

          • The crutches comparison doesn’t even make sense…how exactly do crutches impact someone’s bladder?

        • You are talking about two different perspectives. From the perspective of the employee, one might assume they would act with basic kindness towards someone in inflexible circumstances. But from the perspective of a pregnant woman, if a pregnant woman goes about her daily business expecting every person she encounters to cowtow to your needs, then I would say that is a bit much.

          If I were to see a pregnant lady in need of a seat, I would offer it. But I don’t know if pregnant ladies should expect people to give up their seats.

      • “The level of privilege expected by the pregnant/child having is astonishing.” — Ha. This can’t be a serious right? As pregnant woman are pretty universally some of the least privileged.

      • OMG, THIS ! Entitlement 101

      • I’m impressed it took this long for someone to break out “privilege,” the most over-(and mis-)used word in the English language. Congratulations, or something.

  • Tom

    Yes. I offer my seat to women in general, pregnancy or no pregnancy. Ditto for men who look like they’d rather not stand due to old age, a weary expression, et cetera. My propositions aren’t always accepted, but that seat could really brighten an otherwise bleak commute for someone else. I don’t see the harm in asking. It won’t kill me to stand up for a few stops.

    • Sounds like a gentleman to me. Are you single? haha

    • This is Tom. Tom is a nice guy. Tom doesn’t have to consult a manual in order to act like a decent human. Be more like Tom.

      • or just don’t sit … ever. Crowded or empty. Avoid swamp ass residue and get beneficial isometric exercise by simply standing. Just don’t block doorways and exit train to let people off. %100 mensch no chivalry required.

        • I think the doorways comment deserves emphasis. People who stand in the doorway on buses/trains when there are seats (when they’re not SUPER TALL or wide and still able to fit into said seats) hold people up getting on and off the bus/train. They are incredibly annoying.

          • please … standing is the doorway is fine as long as you don’t impede others (regardless of seating). I agree that remaining in the doorway when someone tries to exit is annoying but fair game otherwise . . . plus no swamp ass or pregger blocking. win/win

  • I see people offer up people seats on the Metro ALL the time. While some people may be focused on things, you can’t expect someone down the car to stand up and yell please come sit next to me. Usually friendly eye contact will do the trick.

  • I am a (visibly) seven months pregnant Metro rider. Every single day during rush hour someone offers me their seat. Young, old, male, female, phone-obsesser…. they have all eagerly offered me a seat. Occasionally I’m left standing for a few stops because it’s just so crowded. Even in those instances, people will say “I’m so sorry I didn’t see you earlier – please take my seat.” Every day. There is hope!

  • I remember being in the middle of the train, in an inside seat when a very pregnant woman got on years ago. NOBODY was moving. So I stood up and shouted to her across the other seats, “you can come sit here.” Suddenly everyone near her was standing up to offer their seat. Public embarrassment was a strong motivator.

  • when i was pregnant about 2 years ago, my fellow 64 bus riders frequently gave up their seats to me. I’ve also seen teens give up their seats to pregnant ladies and seniors. and a few times, the bus driver or other passengers will just remind (i.e. yell at) people to give up priority seating. that’s effective too. all is not lost in the world yet…

  • I, as a rule, avoid seats delineated for the elderly and disabled. And even if I’m sitting in the middle or back of the bus, or elsewhere on the train, I always offer my seat to people who look like they could be my parents or grandparents (meaning they were born around the time of World War II or earlier). I also offer my seat to obviously pregnant women, men or women with small children, and anyone overwhelmed with lots of bags.

    I am not pregnant, have never had a pregnant looking belly and have been on occasion offered seats by people on Metro, so chivalry is not dead.

    When people hold the door open for me, I always say thank you because my parents reared me correctly. One of my pet peeves is when a door slams in my face and the person saw me two – three steps behind them. So as a rule, I hold the door open for others (both male and female). But there are, unfortunately, a lot of entitled people who have little to no home training because I usually do NOT get a thank you for the gesture.

    • This. Your comment gives me hope.
      My pet peeve is when I’m walking on my side of the sidewalk, and I encounter a group of people come down the opposite direction taking up the whole width of the sidewalk. These days it ends up being a game of chicken on who is going to give way. Downtown is not that big of a deal but the more residential the area space can be limited. I really don’t get how people think that I’m supposed to give way when they’re walking the opposite direction of foot traffic. People are way too self absorbed.

      • Tbh, I’ve stopped moving off the sidewalk for these people. I will literally just stop and let them run into me… but most of the time they’ll finally move. Like, y’all gotta move over. Rude.

      • THISSSSSS. This is my biggest pet peeve in the world.

      • Oh hell yeah. The people who walk 2-3 wide, and sometimes 2-3 deep. They bug the crap out of me. And it’s not just always tourists. So, I’m walking (or jogging) and thinking “move out the effing way” But I don’t say this, because I know better. But of course, the New Yorker in me still comes out and I push straight through the middle, saying politely, “Excuse me. Coming through! Pardon! This sidewalk is for folks walking both ways. ” I may get the side eye, but whatever. Don’t take up the walkway, and you will not have issues. And why should I walk in dirt or the street or slide against a building because you want to have group convo. I’m convinced the people who do this have lived a life of driving everywhere and never learned pedestrian etiquette.

  • My dilemma is always: is this person old enough to offer my seat to? I don’t want to offend some 55 year old woman by offering her my seat.

    • I’ve been that 55 year old woman offered a seat, and if I’m tired, I’ll gladly take it. If I’m getting off soon, I many just say thanks, I’m Ok. Since most people would have said I looked 45, it startled me when it first started happening, but I soon got used to it, and decided that at times on the metro I must appear to be excessively weary, which can be true, and sensitive people are picking up on that.

      I was also getting fatter with belly fat, so if they thought i looked younger, they may have thought I was pregnant. Some women’s belly fat can look like early stage pregnancy – I used to get asked if I was pregnant occasionally back in my 30s when I was skinnier with a bit of belly fat – women would ask me when I was due – I didn’t get offended, I just said – no unfortunately, not pregnant, I wish I was – as I had back then been hopeful about being in a place to have kids someday soon. The people asking were being friendly, usually people I was buying coffee or something similar from, and I didn’t want to make them feel bad for enquiring – and I didn’t take it as an insult just because I wasn’t pregnant. (I realize that most women are not like me in this regard, and that people who get asked if they are pregnant due to a health issue that makes them look so must get tired of it, but I don’t think the occasional mistaken impression should be taken as an insult. That said, I’ve learned it is, and I don’t ask women if the are pregnant.)

    • when in doubt why not just offer? he or she can say no

      • Bc just asking, there is an implied “I think you need help/aren’t capable/are old/etc.” Some people are sensitive to that. I mean, you can’t go through life trying not to offend bc that’s impossible – no matter what you do, someone somewhere will find a way to be offended. BUT I’m close to someone with a disability who is sensitive to people assuming she can’t – she can, just differently, and she has it figured out – so that may make me overthink this.

    • I’m a 34-year-old woman, not pregnant, disabled, or carrying around children, and I always appreciate it when a gentledude offers me his seat. I feel like people are way, way too worried that someone is going to be offended. Most likely they’ll just be happy that they can read their book.

  • I dunno, I see folks offer up their seats all the time on the orange line; just saw an instance of it on this morning’s commute.

  • I think if you sit in one of the seats reserved for handicapped/elderly/pregnant people, you have a responsibility to look up from your phone/newspaper/legal when others board to see if someone needs use of the priority seating.

  • If I notice someone getting on the bus who looks to be in need (pregnant, broken leg / crutches, elderly, carrying a lot of bags), I’ll give up my seat. Unfortunately I also am not hawkishly looking for people who may need my seat, so on occasion I’ll miss a person – so if someone wants or needs a seat, they can just ask…

  • andy

    Things able-bodied men should do in spite of nominal gender equality, etc.:
    1. Give up seats to women (and the infirm), pretty much always, without drawing attention of any kind.
    2. Open doors and keep them open.
    3. Pay for all dates.
    4. Avoid recognition for doing any of these things.

    • Hi! Tonight, the role of That Woman (eyeroll) will be played by me, wdc.
      Insisting on paying for all dates is improper because it establishes a debt which the woman is expected to pay off with her body. Yes, I know YOU would never expect sex in return for a meal. But you must admit that many, many men do. Even the most sex-conservative man is de facto infantilizing the woman by assuming her inability to pay for her own meal.
      I’ve also heard the argument (no, it’s true, I have) that men *should* earn more than women for the same jobs, because they are expected to pay for dates.

      • Seriously ? Going dutch on a date is the best way not to have other dates. There is a difference between the enlightened like you and a significant percentage of all the other women who assume you’re cheap

        • There’s a happy medium here. The first few dates, I agree, SOME women look askance on men who insist on Dutch, or don’t offer to pay. But after a SHORT while of dating, there needs to be reciprocity. In fact, if a woman Doesn’t offer to pay (at something approaching 50% of the time) that’s a red flag.
          This all comes with an enormous grain of salt – it’s been more than 15 years since I was single. I was under the impression that actual dating was something left in the previous decade, and all you youngsters used The Tinder to find your multiple sex partners at the end of every evening. So what do I know?
          Please excuse me while I draft the home-schooling plan for my daughter.

          • I agree with dcd here. And I believe there is often reciprocity (but in ways that may not necessarily equal “I’ll pay for your $15 tacos.” Like traveling to the guy’s neighborhood, or paying for parking, giving a gift, or an assortment of other tokens of affection and appreciation).

      • Going dutch on the first date is huge red flag in my book, same way I think I woman should always offer to split and do the wallet out dance before letting the man pay. It isn’t about whether or not I can pay, it’s just a courtesy and sign of respect. After the first date, it can be whoever did the inviting or dutch or the woman can offer to pay the cab or some other expense. In my current relationship, my boyfriend always pays when we go out but I usually pay for the meals we make at home (he’s a big guy and eats a lot) and will usually cover the cab or movie tickets, etc when we go out. Same with trips, I get the flights, he pays for hotel and car rental.

        Oh and the great thing about being an empowered woman? A man can expect sex in return all he wants. You have the power to say no.

    • Things people often forget are rewarding:
      1. Exercise
      —>2. Doing things for other people<—
      3. Cleaning the bathtub

    • Pay for all dates!?! What is this, 1956? Women paying their share is one of the three greatest things about real (as opposed to “nominal”) gender equality.

    • +1 on the paying for dates (although i totally don’t mind paying after the first few dates). I remember I mentioned once on here that I thought men should pay on the first handful of dates and I got some tough criticism for it. Men shouldn’t pay all the time forever and ever but I’ve found that the men who have respected me the most in the past have made a legitimate attempt to pay for the first several dates.

    • I’d personally trade the whole opening-doors-and-being-expected-to-pay-on-first-dates stuff for oh idk….equal pay? Seems like a fair deal.

    • I hate when people confuse chivalry with equality The two are very different and one should not be an argument for refusing to do the other.

  • I’d like to add a plus for humanity here. A few years ago a broke my arm and was in a big sling. Every day on the bus people offered me their seat. I would even say, “oh, no that’s ok, it’s a broken arm, I can still stand.” and people would still insist. Surprisingly, healing from my accident made me very tired and the pain was rather wearing, so I was always really happy to sit down. But I wouldn’t have expected anyone to be thoughtful in that manner, especially random bus strangers.

    • Is there a theme emerging here? Are bus riders better then metro riders??

      • Sometimes. The guy who called me a cunt about 2 weeks ago after I squeezed into the empty seat he was blocking and refused to let me into was not a good bus rider ๐Ÿ™ Overall, though, I’ve had better bus experiences than metro experiences.

    • Actually, it’s not standing they are concerned about, it’s whether you will fall if the driver slams on the brakes. Holding on with one arm might not be enough, you might bump into something.

    • I just realized in another part of this discussion that we haven’t mentioned falling risk (which is what I deal with periodically). What happens if the driver has to slam on the brakes or there is a collision?

      One of the purposes of disability seating is to make sure that anyone who is a falling risk has a seat. Pregnant ladies have a falling risk for two people at one time, themselves and their baby. Even if you as the pregnant lady feel strong and happy standing, you and your baby are much more secure in a seat.

      It also places them near the exit, in easy reach of paramedics if need be.

  • I always found that the likelihood of someone giving me a seat whne I was pregnant went from
    – 25-35 year old man in a suit – least likely to
    – 15-20 year old guy I’m afraid might mug me on the street – most likely.
    Oddest thing ever, but it never failed to happen that way. I chalked it up to which type of person is more observant of their surroundings and fellow passengers.

    • I wouldn’t put it this way, but yes – white guy in a suit? NEVER GOING TO OFFER. Young black man? Totally going to ask if I want to sit. Next most likely – women of childbearing age.

      • I found it was the same for black guys in suits, unfortunately. I once stood right in front of one guy for the entire ride and not only did he not offer his seat, he practically ran me over to get out of the door first.

        • Wow, n = 1. That’s really a representative sample you have there of black men.

          • Science – even social science – can be hard.

          • Sorry to offend you – it was just one example and I simply added him to the category of “men 25-35 years old in a suit”.
            If it makes you feel any better, all the men who DID offer seats (second category) were black.
            And I’m black, BTW.

      • I’d wager to guess that economic upbringing / reliance on public transportation growing up explains this far better than your implied relation to race. Those 25-35yo suits likely didn’t grow up taking public transportation with any sort of frequency, as such, their parents may not have taught them to offer up their seat. Granted, this isn’t a valid excuse. If this really is an issue, perhaps WMATA can run some sort of a campaign to raise awareness?

      • This has been my experience too (never been pregnant, but my experience in observing who gets up for the elderly/disabled/pregnant).

    • I had the same experience. Almost-elderly men were second most likely to give up their seat for me.

    • saf

      Or who has better Gramma-training. I have mobility issues. I have noticed the same thing.

  • As someone who had terrible timed pregnancy nausea (5pm sharp every day) I always give up my seat to pregnant women. It is simple, “Would you like to sit down?” She will either say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

    In my experience almost no one offered me their seat on the Metro but I was always offered a seat on the bus. I don’t know if it is a difference between who tends to ride rush hour buses vs rush hour metro riders or a bus vs metro thing. But I can say after having 3 kids that I was offered a seat nearly 100% of the time on the bus, and that includes the X2 on my daily morning commute.

  • YES or anyone who looks like they need it (e.g. old, injured, visibly tired).

  • When I was pregnant 2 years ago, someone offered a seat every time there wasn’t one available (yellow line, generally seats available when I boarded, though). I think it does make a difference sometime whether it’s winter or not, since a heavy coat can disguise a 6 month belly. Since it was summer/early fall for me, there really wasn’t much of a question.

    • I also think it matters on how busy the train is. Sometimes its just hard to notice who needs what when its so crowded. when I travel at non rush hour times Its always obvious if someone needs a seat over me but on my regular route if I am seated (which is generally in the middle of the train) I usually cant see beyond the person standing next to me so I have no idea if there is someone 2-10 people deep that is having to stand when clearly they should be sitting.

  • I always offer– but was wrong once and she wasn’t really pregnant….that was a crappy day…

  • I would give up my seat but that’s just how I was raised. That being said, pregnant women shouldn’t expect special treatment, which many do. The one example I always think about it when I used to work at a bar and a pregnant women would ask to use the bathroom. As with everyone else, I would tell them it was for customers only and most were horrified that I was such a monster for not letting them use the bathroom. Having a child/ being pregnant is a choice people make and they shouldn’t expect special treatment. I try to practice common curiosity when possible but it shouldn’t be expected of me. If you want a guaranteed seat during your commute, drive.

    • Do you realize that the pregnancy hormone hCG makes woman have to pee all the time during pregnancy? Probably not because I didn’t realized it until I became pregnant, but long before I was showing, I had to pee constantly.

      There is a different between “special treatment” and treating people with common courtesy.

      • I’ve never been pregnant but I’ll take your word for having to pee all the time. That being said, what should I have done in those situations? Broken the rules set out by my employer and risk loosing my job so a non-paying customer can use the bathroom?

      • Even if I can’t say what month it kicks in, everybody pretty well knows pregnant women need to pee often. It is foreseeable, so I’d expect a pregnant woman to figure that into her day. It takes more time to argue with John Smith about why you can’t use his bathroom than it does to walk next door.
        One exception if you’re somewhere truly deserted, but so far, these complaints are coming from people within stones throw of other places or who should be able to afford the cheapest beverage, so they can use the bathroom there.
        Having blanket policies ensures no one can claim discrimination.

        • On the one hand, I wish you could get pregnant one day so that you could see how easy it is to “figure in” the needs of a constantly-changing body.
          On the other, I’m glad you won’t be raising any children with your views. The relish with which you apply your misanthropy (and often, misogyny) is distasteful.

          • I could try to get pregnant, but what I know of those body changes are more than I care to handle. What makes you think I don’t want to have children? Because I expect that it’ll be my responsibility to accommodate myself to their needs not the public at large?

            The beauty of the internet: Lots of people with even more of opinions.

        • I, personally have never been pregnant and have passed the age at which that is likely to happen. Nonetheless, even I, a non-pregnant, non-hormonal adult without a swelling being drop-kicking my bladder — someone with the foresight to start paying into my 401K 35 years before I needed it and to work hard for and flirt occasionally with my boss in case 30 years later I would be single and looking for a girl with smiling Irish eyes and career prospects –sometimes find myself unexpectedly needing to go. I’m willing to give the pregnant women of the world a little slack along these lines.
          There’s also value in not being rule-fetishizing twit.

          • Phew, I’m glad somebody finally said it. Twit, twit, twit. HaileUnlikely hinted at it, but I’m glad you had the nerve to bring it front and center.

        • Why would EVERYONE know pregnant women have to pee all the time because of a hormone? News to me

          • I meant simply the having to pee a lot portion. I think enough people know that fact that someone who is planning to be pregnant wouldn’t be shocked by that happening once pregnant.

    • Wow!. Your post started off so good, yet ended so terribly. I don’t think anyone mentioned a “guaranteed seat”, just insight on whether or not metro passengers in Popville are courteous to pregnant women when it came to offering seats.

    • I wonder what the owners of your bar think of the way you treated a potential customer.

      • Speaking from experience, owners are usually pretty happy that you follow the rules that they’ve set in place. If you refuse to go back to a place because they won’t break the rules for you, I’m sure you wouldn’t be missed.

        • I used to work in a bar myself, seems like my bar was more community-minded than that.

          • My old restaurant had lots of problem with people coming in to steal soap & tp, poop on the floor, shoot up, etc. The policy had a cause.

      • I’m assuming they had no problems, considering they kept me on for three years and gave me consistent raises for doing my job and keep non-paying customers out. If their policy towards pregnant women was different, I’d have happily let them in. You can’t break the rules you’re paid to enforce in the name of common curiosity.

      • I used to work in a bar myself, so I think that probably your bar would not be a place that I would frequent.

    • letting pregnant women and young children pee in restaurant/shop bathrooms has definitely been a past topic on PoP.

    • Are you serious? Oh boy – I remember being like 8 or 9 months pregnant, walking home from a friend’s house, and knew I couldn’t make it all the way without peeing. I stopped in at the Queen Vic during prime drinking hours on a Saturday night. I REALLY needed to go and no one minded. Please reconsider your stance on letting pregnant ladies use your restroom!

  • When I was in the last trimester of my pregnancy last summer (and there was no mistaking I was pregnant) I actually found that people gave up their seat about half the time. Interestingly, I found it was almost always women who gave up their seat, and typically middle-aged women. Probably 90 percent of the time. My best guess is that those women remembered what it was like to have been pregnant and riding the metro themselves.

    Once or twice when I was so tired and sore and in need of a seat I asked people if someone would get up. Someone always did, without any trouble.

  • It’s not just visibly pregnant women, unfortunately. People with crutches, canes, walkers, extremely elderly, etc. have all been denied seats on our Metro bus and rail. I myself have been denied seating on a bus, even when wearing my medical bracelet. One time I had to get off a bus and wait in the rain for the next one.

    I have had discussions with Metro customer service, as well as passengers who have experienced this, and it seems to be sadly common. The bus driver is not empowered to do anything about it, and there is no one on a rail car to enforce the disability seating either.

    I really feel for the people who ride into the city on the train (I have a reverse commute), because who is going to give up a seat on a completely packed train?

    • I’m confused as to why a medical bracelet would mean automatic entitlement to a seat? Medical bracelets can be for something as innocuous as an allergy to aspirin, so I wouldn’t assume someone with one would be any more in need than me.

    • I’ve been on buses that refused to move until someone who needed a seat got one. Not sure if it’s allowed, but it’s effective.
      On the medical bracelet, is there something clearly visible that shows you need seating? If you ask, people should just get up, but I’m curious how’d they would know without you asking.

      • I agree with your second point, I wouldn’t know to even be looking for a medical bracelet during my half second glance to see if you needed my seat (and my mom has epilepsy and wears one, so I’m quite familiar with what they look like). Most people aren’t looking for a bracelet, they’re looking for an obvious outward sign that you need their seat. Unfortunately, if you have a condition that doesn’t present like that, you may just have to ask.

        • If you read my comment below, you will see that I do ask, and what happens when I ask. I don’t expect people to just know.

    • I wouldn’t know what a medical bracelet is or what it means.

    • I do ask, and you would be shocked at some of the reactions I get. I don’t look elderly or sick, so I’m told that I’m faking, shut up, go to the back of the bus, etc. But sometimes I don’t have the physical strength to be holding on to a rail on a jerky bus, so I have to get off the bus and wait for a less crowded one. I’ve been late to work several times that way.

      The medical bracelet is a signal to the paramedics that they need to check my electronic registry, but it has a big honking red medical signal and most people do notice it.

      • That’s terrible. I’ve never questioned anyone. I just assume you need it if you’re asking.
        The bracelet while noticed doesn’t really tell someone what’s going on. I would look and not worry about it, but get up if you asked.

      • That IS terrible and I cannot imagine ever questioning someone who asked me for my seat.

  • I’m a mom of two. When I was pregnant I would often get offered seats by older women. Young men were the least likely to offer. I had no problem asking for a seat and did often!

  • How is this even a question? OF COURSE you (assuming you can) offer your seat to the elderly, the diasbled/on crutches, pregnant, someone with a lot of boxes, etc. And you if don’t know if a woman is pregnant or not, just say “excuse me, do you want to sit?”

    I swear, we’ve always got to make things more complicated than necessary.

  • I was pregnant around three years ago, and I took the metro to commute every workday. I found it interesting that I never was offered a seat – not once. Now I take the metro with my toddler, and I’ve found all sorts of people are quite considerate and offer us seats often.

  • I get up for ANY woman. It was what I was taught. Might be a little outdated and may even offend some women. I usually dont take any empty seat though so I can avoid the awkward social interaction when I do sit and then a woman gets on.

  • Admittedly haven’t read everything yet but this is a general theme- I spent about 6 months on crutches with a boot on one foot and generally people did not get offer me a seat, even those people in the seats that are meant to be for people who need extra help etc.
    Oddly though- the group of people who consistently offered me a seat were teenage boys. Not everyone, not every time, but with far greater frequency than other populations

  • If you are pregnant and need to sit ask someone for a seat I am sure they would be happy to oblige. I don’t think people want to assume someone is pregnant in case they are just fat or have a beer belly because hey you never know. I also don’t think it’s the law to do so unless the seat is clearly marked as for people with special needs but it is still the right thing to do if a pregnant person asks you too or you want to assume they are pregnant and offer your seat

  • I stopped taking the metro once i was 8 months pregnant because of this. I would ask for a seat when the train was clear enough to move (we all know the sardine scenario during rush hour), but I was only offered seats by women. It’s shameful. Those who use public transportation should be aware of their surroundings and offer seats to the elderly, pregnant women and handicap passengers. Open your eyes!

    • Just ask for a seat! I commute for 1.5 hours a day and while I totally believe in giving up my seat when someone is pregnant or in need of one I also believe I am allowed to read a book on the metro. I am not spending 1.5 hours each day stairing at people coming on and off the train because a pregnant women might get on the train and is too afraid to speak up. If I don’t notice you just tap me on the shoulder and ask. Unless (as i have said earlier in this chain) you are in one of those seats reserved for those in need. People should either never sit in them or be alert that they must get up to their seat when needed.

    • Just ask for a seat! I commute for 1.5 hours a day and while I totally believe in giving up my seat when someone is pregnant or in need of one I also believe I am allowed to read a book on the metro. I am not spending 1.5 hours each day staring at people coming on and off the train because a pregnant women might get on the train and is too afraid to speak up. If I don’t notice you just tap me on the shoulder and ask. Unless (as i have said earlier in this chain) you are in one of those seats reserved for those in need. People should either never sit in them or be alert that they must get up to their seat when needed.

      • ^THIS.
        This annoys me to no end. Why can’t pregnant women simply ask for a seat? I try to avoid the priority seats but I would gladly give up my non-priority seat if asked. I am on the train because I am commuting. It is the little time I have to the day to myself. I use it to sleep, listen to music, or just close my eyes and zone out. Those who say that is self-absorbed because I am not actively paying attention, YOU HAVE NO CLUE what my life is and you have no right to judge my worthiness. I am tired. I am sleep-deprived. I should be able to enjoy a few precious moments to myself. I am not constantly scanning the train car, trying to anticipate the needs of everyone that comes on the train to determine if they need my seat or not. If I notice someone that needs a seat or if asked, I definitely give up my seat. I just do not notice every single passenger on the train.

        I never expect things from people unless I ask, that is the real world. Honestly it sounds like entitlement to me. My friend complained to me that she was never offered a seat when she was pregnant, and when I asked, “do you ask people if you can sit?” it was like a light-bulb went off in her head – it never occurred to her to ask. And literally she is the most self-absorbed person I know. People, you are adults, you’re going to bring a kid into the world, please start acting like adults and learn to express your needs and wants in life. Life only gets tougher!

  • I’m happy to give up my seat if someone asks…

    • Yeah, this is an oddly intense thread. If someone asks me for my seat–pregnant, old, young, man, woman, meat popsicle, doesn’t really matter–I’ll gladly get up, as I think pretty much anyone would. I just don’t exactly cycle over to “scan for pregnant ladies!” mode like I’m the Predator or something every time my train stops and a few dozen people come and go.

  • In contrast, I have carried two babies to 40+ weeks, taking metro every workday, and I only had to ask for a seat a couple times. I think the big difference is that I take the green line from Petworth to L’Enfant; when I took the blue/orange line during rush hour a few times I never was offered a seat. Green line people are nicer.

  • Obviously, metro riders should give up their seat for the elderly, pregnant, etc. My experience on metro is that most riders do not give up their seats for the clearly pregnant. It’s ridiculously selfish behavior.

    We should import some German grandparents for societal rule enforcement. It only takes getting hit once with a cane by a crazy old German man to convince your immature self to obey societal norms on public transportation.

  • I’ve actually seen men give up their seats for visibly pregnant women more than I have for people who have visible injuries. I started noticing this when I seriously injured both my leg and arm, so I’m just more observant about it. I’m not saying either have a greater right to the seat, it was just something I happened to observe on my commute.

  • I solve the entire dilemma by simply not sitting down at all. I figure I can stand, and if I’m out of the way then I can stand in the corner with my book and only worry about getting out of the way for wheelchairs.

  • This shouldn’t even be a question. of course I do/would/have. I feel weird and not very “gentlemanly” if I don’t offer my seat to females in general, regardless of even their age.

  • I have a fairly invisible disability that sometimes means that I’m extremely uncomfortable (read: in a whole world of pain) standing. I’ve gotten used to asking people to move their butts from the reserved seats when I need it since no one will offer because I look perfectly fine when I’m standing still. I hope when I’m pregnant I will continue to not give a fuck about asking people to vacate their seats.

  • Made-for-Internet arguments about “privilege” aside, we’re all still humans interacting with one another in a free society. Do problems with entitlement and attitude exist? Sure. But we aren’t dealing with a philosophical question here; we’re dealing with a human growing another human inside of her body. What in the world does “privilege” and bickering over who may or may have not chosen to get knocked up have to do with anything? The idea that someone may be wildly uncomfortable or in pain should be enough motivation for you to haul your husk off of a plastic chair without performing a cost benefit analysis of the situation like some sort of confused robot.

  • I see a lot of people saying “just ask for a seat,” but honestly, that is easier said than done for some people. If you have social anxiety it might be extremely difficult to approach and single out someone to give up their seat. I know I would not be comfortable with doing that myself. A decent person would just get up and not wait for the person in need to ask.

    • But you’re asking those people to determine you’re in need with dubious criteria….not if you have a cane, crutches, etc. That could make them equally uncomfortable esp. if they’ve had a negative experience doing so in the past.
      I do not have anxiety, so I can’t begin to understand how that feels, but the person seating may have it too.

    • Again, I think some of us who are suggestion people ask are operating under the assumption that we might not take notice of everyone on the metro. Surly once we see a pregnant women we will gladly offer up our seat. Some people have suggested what self absorbed person can’t see a viably pregnant or injured person , however metro does get really crowded at rush hour and its hard. Those 4 seats at the front of metro are reserved for a reason and unless you fit that description you should avoid them. That would help a lot. In the event those seats are all taken up by those in need I have no problem ask pregnant women to be advocates for themselves and tap someone on the shoulder who might be too engaged to take notice. I think telling people not to check email , read the paper or books and avoid any other distractions in case a pregnant women with social anxiety happens to get on is asking too much of regular commuters. I will say again that a lot of this could be avoided if healthy and able bodied people, or those not carrying children (both inside or outside the womb) would refrain from sitting in the reserved seats . They are reserved for a reason!

    • Your anxiety is on you. It’s not other people’s responsibility.

  • justinbc

    Not surprised at the number of comments on this one! If a woman is visibly pregnant (re: holding her belly or something of the sort) then yes I will gladly stand up and offer her my seat. I don’t like to make guesses about who’s pregnant and who’s overweight, and since I’ve never had a pregnant partner those lines aren’t really that clear for me. I agree with those who say if she -needs- a seat then she should have no problem asking, and anyone who doesn’t comply is a real prick. I’ve definitely been guilty of being absorbed in the morning news or catching up on emails while riding, so a simple “can I sit there” goes a long way in making it easier for both of us to accommodate the situation. I also typically avoid sitting near the front of the bus if at all possible, so that I don’t ever have to worry about getting up for pregnant ladies, elderly, handicapped, etc, it’s just a smarter riding decision when you have that flexibility. I will say though that judging people who don’t get up, or at least don’t get up immediately, is bad protocol, because you don’t really know anything about them other than what you can visibly gauge. There are plenty of people with serious injuries even at a young age who get extreme stress or pain by standing vs sitting, and to harass them just because they look young and “should be in shape” makes you a much worse person than them.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I do agree that we should not judge an individual “healthy looking” person for not giving up their seat; however, when the front six seats are all occupied by healthy looking people and none of them do, the probability that all six have some sort of injury or other medical issue that makes standing difficult is extraordinarily small.

  • I was ordered by a pregnant lady one morning. She wasn’t even polite about it, that’s what really burns me up! She said, and I quote, “I’m pregnant you have to give up your seat”. No joke. Not even a courteous thank you. I had half a mind to tell her to get f—ed but by the looks of her she already had! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I would have gotten up anyway, I’m kind of a gentleman but c’mon show a lil gratitude. No one likes morning rush hour commutes. She wasn’t even that pregnant, 5 months tops.

    • If you *ask* if I will give up my seat, I’m happy to do so. If you *order* me to give up my seat, I’m going to tell you in graphic detail where you can shove it.

    • “I had half a mind to tell her to get fโ€”ed but by the looks of her she already had!”

      “Iโ€™m kind of a gentleman.”

      ………………….OK then.

      • He didn’t say *what kind* of gentleman. Any Buffy fans in the house?

      • Ugh. Yeah. The people who say “I’m kind of a gentleman” or “I’m a good guy but…” are usually the illest-mannered, most self-absorbed guys out there.

        • Not a handicapped seat. And by kind of a gentleman, I mean if you treat me rudely you’re very lucky I don’t reply rudely bc I’m kind of a gentleman.

    • Maybe she was in a bad mood because she just spent the morning puking but still had to go to work because sick leave in the U.S. sucks.

    • Well, if you were sitting in the disabled seats not paying attention to who might need them, I’m with her. If not, agreed that it’s rude, but sheds some light on why some of the women on this thread have been reluctant to ask for a seat when they need one – you have to do it in just the right way or people will get offended.

  • I just realized in another part of this discussion that only one other person has mentioned falling risk (which is what I deal with periodically). What happens if the driver has to slam on the brakes or there is a collision?
    One of the purposes of disability seating is to make sure that anyone who is a falling risk has a seat. Pregnant ladies have a falling risk for two people at one time, themselves and their baby. Even if you as the pregnant lady feel strong and happy standing, you and your baby are much more secure in a seat.
    It also places them near the exit, in easy reach of paramedics if need be.
    Same goes for little kids, they should also be in seats for protection against falls.

  • General Grant Circle

    I give up my seat to elderly, handicapped, injured people with crutches, nursing parents, parents with little kids. I WILL give up my seat to you if you are pregnant, but after offering my seat to a lady who I assumed was pregnant and getting a verbal lashing, Ive been hesitant on that one

  • I mostly just came to read the comments. I was most impressed by the “I don’t give up me seat because fat people” hot take. Bravo Popville.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I’ll get up for people but I only actively look if I’m in a priority seat. If I’m in another seat I’m reading or zoned out to make my commute better for me.
    I’ve also been the person who was offered a seat b/c I was wearing an empire waist dress. I took it, but didn’t realize the person offered it b/c she thought I was pregnant until she apologized for not noticing me. Then I felt to super uncomfortable, but I had already sat down.
    So what’s the etiquette when you aren’t knocked-up but get offered a seat?

    • I think in that situation I would just graciously take it and then keep my mouth shut. No sense in making the person feel bad, especially since it seems like that’s one of the big reasons people are hesitant to offer in the first place.

  • Haven’t offered a seat to a pregnant woman since 2001.That year, I was on the train one day and a woman who looked like she was going to go into labor before the doors even closed got on. I asked her if she wanted to sit down, and she started screaming at me that she was a “strong, powerful woman” and that if she could carry that baby around all day she could damn well manage a train ride and how dare I assume that she was so weak that she couldn’t even stand up did I think that all women were so damn fragile that they couldn’t even get through a pregnancy without a damn man trying to control her and take care of her and who was I to even talk to her about her pregnancy what if she had just been fat wouldn’t I have felt stupid then… etc…
    I got off the train, having decided I would never again even acknowledge a stranger was pregnant even if she was crowning right in front of me. If someone needs help, they need to ask for it. If asked, and ONLY if asked, I will be happy to help in any way I can. Otherwise, you conceived it – it’s your problem, not mine.

    • HaileUnlikely

      It sounds like you ran across a first rate lunatic. Don’t let that prevent you from being kind to the vast majority of normal people who are not lunatics.

      • Oh I completely agree she was cuckoo for crazy-puffs. The problem was, she *looked* like a nice, friendly, approachable young woman when I asked if she wanted the seat. It wasn’t till she opened her mouth that I realized she was batshit crazy. I learned a very important lesson that day about judging people based on appearance.
        Now the elderly, that’s a different story, for two reasons. One, becoming elderly is not a choice, and it’s not possible to mistake it for something else. There are a lot of women who look pregnant but aren’t, but there’s no such thing as a 30 year old who looks 95. Second, old people are from a different era, when you responded politely to strangers who interacted with you. So, I still *offer* my seat to elderly people. But anybody else? If you need something from me, you need to ask. If you can’t be bothered to ask, you must not need it that much.

    • The possibility that I’d get that kind of reaction would make me MORE likely to offer my seat to a pregnant woman. Where else can you get entertainment like that for free?

  • 206 comments? I imagine everything has been said.
    I have come to the conclusion a lot of people are just oblivious. I was recently in a very large cast and trying to use public transportation. People did not tend to offer seats. But more surprisingly people were constantly bumping into it (painful) instead of giving a little way as they passed. I ultimately decided people are oblivious and just weren’t noticing.

    • One thing that hasn’t been said yet: how are all you people checking your email on the train??? It’s a dead zone in there! I’m lucky if I can get a text to send in less than five minutes!

    • Ugh yeah, I had a shoulder surgery 6 years ago and my doctor banned me from taking metro or the bus for this exact reason until I was done with physical therapy.

  • My take is this: Yes, people should give up their seat for a pregnant lady but there are multiple factors involved…

    1) Chance of offending a woman who is not pregnant (which you could always just play it off like you’re doing it because they are a lady, but I don’t believe in chivalry because EQUALITY, right?)

    2) People zone out. If no one is paying attention, just ask. I hate when people go out in the world and assume like it’s going to take care of them. At the end of the day you have to take care of you and your child. One thing that helps me live a peaceful life is I don’t care about stuff like this. I don’t “expect” anything from anyone. People are people, that it’s… is that too deep? I sound like a butt, but I do give my seat up for women and elderly people whenever I can.

    3) I’ve been on the metro for 6 years now. I honestly can’t even recall seeing a pregnant lady yet.

    But I guess to answer the question, if I saw a pregnant woman I would most definitely give up my seat.

    • “1) Chance of offending a woman who is not pregnant (which you could always just play it off like youโ€™re doing it because they are a lady, but I donโ€™t believe in chivalry because EQUALITY, right?)”
      I really don’t know why this concerns people so much. I don’t go out of my way to offend total strangers, but neither am I willing to expend a ridiculous amount of mental energy to avoid offending the hypersensitive among us. If you act in a way that the vast majority of people in this world would consider courteous (offering your seat to someone who is, or looks, pregnant), and that someone gets offended . . . well, tough. If you’re such a special snowflake that widely accepted rules of courtesy are insufficient to protect your feelings, that’s your problem. Stay home, away from general interactions, or suck it up and deal.

    • Haven’t seen a pregnant woman in 6 years? Yeah, you are totally zoned out.

  • When I was pregnant, I was offered seats on the metro and buses maybe less than half the time. If I was physically capable of standing, I would. But by the end, my feet and legs would just be exhausted by the end of the day, my back was killing me, and it can affect your balance too, so you don’t necessarily want to put yourself or others at risk if you end up falling down.

    So if no one offered me a seat, I would as politely as I could say, is anyone able to let me sit down? Usually there is at least one well-meaning person who didn’t notice me and would offer their seat. Only once did I have to say, “I’m like 8 months pregnant here, can anyone give me their seat?” And someone begrudgingly offered.

    It was usually other women who offered me their seats.

    People either honestly don’t notice there is a pregnant person in need of a seat, or they notice and they don’t care, or they don’t want to risk offending someone by assuming they are pregnant.

  • What are people’s thoughts on men giving up their seats to women in general? I’m a young guy, I’ll take a seat when the bus isn’t crowded, but when I see a lot of people getting on the bus I’ll quietly get up and just stand so my seat’s free for whoever wants it. As a why to offer my seat without having to do the dance of offering it someone specific. But when a bus is REALLY crowded and people are getting on and off, it’s usually just easier for whoever’s near a seat to take it. Once on a crowded bus where everybody who could was just sitting so we could pack people in, this guy loudly yelled, “All the men on the bus who are sitting should be ashamed!”. It felt VERY over the top, sort of a 1950’s mentality of chauvinism and this guy trying to pat himself on the back for standing. I wanted to yell something back about how people who call others out just to make themselves look good should be ashamed, but knew there was no way to not sound like an asshole.

    • Stay seated- i was going to bring this up regarding those in need of a seat that sometimes its so crowded you can’t easily gibe up your seat if you want to. I am a 28 year old healthy women. I have been in this city since i was 21. With the exception of the time I broke my leg I have never accepted a seat when a man was just being polite. I think it can be a nice gesture but I don;t think men are less gentlemanly if they don’t jump up to allow every women to sit down.

    • I keep my butt in the seat. I’m not giving up my seat just because someone happens to have a different set of genitalia. Sorry (not sorry).
      Elderly? Infirm? Sickly appearance? Pregnant? Injured? Straight up exhausted? Little kids? Sure, you can have my seat.

    • Yeah definitely no need to give up seats for able-bodied women, that guy was wrong. And I agree that it is the right thing to do to take the seat when it is sitting empty, even if you would rather stand, because if everyone is standing it limits the number of people who can get on the bus/train.

  • Funny, I have had the exact opposite experience. People always offer me (visibly pregnant) their seat. I mostly say no because I prefer to stand. Several times someone new has gotten on and glared/said something to those sitting because they assumed no one offered.

  • I am 77 years old and am rarely offered a seat

    • If we’re ever on a train together, I’ll help you get one!

    • Without knowing you, that could actually be a great compliment. Jane Fonda is 78, but she looks so young I’d never think of her as “elderly” if I saw her on a train. Maybe you’re lucky enough not to look a day over 55! But regardless, if you’d like a seat, feel free to ask. Most of us are friendly folks who will happily give you one if you’d like it ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Of course, the right thing for an able-bodied passenger to do is to offer the seat. But, you can’t expect people to be constantly aware of who is getting on and off. So, if you are pregnant, the smart thing for YOU to do (for the safety of yourself and your baby) is to tap an able-bodied young person on the shoulder and say “Do you mind if I sit down? I’m pregnant and it’s hard for me to stand right now.” And if they say no, assume they have an invisible disability (for your own sanity) and try the next person. If it takes you more than three tries to get a seat, then write in to PoPville so we know that this city is going to hell in a handbasket.

  • My honest opinion? I think decades of feminism – especially the past few years as it has come more and more a part of popular culture discussion – has sent people (especially men) the very loud message that women don’t need or require their help. It’s not a message that I personally approve of (full disclosure: I’m female and southern and a bit of a traditionalist) but I don’t lay a lot of negative judgement on it either. I just think … Hmmm, how can I put this tactfully? Well, be careful what you ask for. Women with very strong feminist views are asking for “total equality” and to be treated with all equality to me, and as a result don’t expect pregnancy not to apply. As an aside: I *do* offer my seat.

  • Admittedly, I have not read every comment in this thread —

    But the amount of men who’ve chimed in to explain why they do not give up their seats to pregnant women is exasperating! Give me a freaking break. It is a matter of courtesy to give up your seat to anyone weaker (yeah, I said it) than you — including visibly pregnant — and I can’t take seriously any man who argues against this. Man up! (And for the record, I am not a man, but I happily give up my seat to anyone who could use it more than I — and I have been known to verbally ask others to get up on behalf of pregnant women and others. If you’re going to be rude, you will have to do it consciously and without pretending you don’t see this person and a half looming over you.)

    One more thing. The men who say they get up for disabled and seniors, but not pregnant women, lack empathy. I’m willing to bet that they take this position, however unsuspectingly, because they can one day picture themselves disabled or of advanced age. If these same men could also get pregnant, giving up a seat for a pregnant woman would be such a no-brainer that it wouldn’t even merit discussion.

  • I only skimmed this thread and have never been pregnant, but I have been on crutches and in a giant leg brace for a couple months. I just headed directly for the priority seating and gave whomever was sitting there an obvious look, or asked the person sitting there to move if s/he wasn’t paying attention. People are oblivious on the metro, especially in the non-priority seating. Solution: pregnant women should head to the priority seating first. And it goes without saying that they should get a seat.

  • My guess is that the conscientious types who would give up a seat for a pregnant woman are less likely to sit in those designated seats by the door in the first place — I never do. In other words: The able-bodied people sitting in those seats are more likely to be oblivious/jerks.
    This doesn’t seem to be the case with Metrobus though. I always see people giving up seats for the elderly, physically encumbered, pregnant or people with children.

  • Ally

    I can remember being 9 months pregnant and was only offered a seat on the metro once or twice. I very, very much appreciated the few offers I got. On days where no one offered, I’d come up and my ankles were like tree trunks. To the folks who said the women should ask for the seat, it kind of creates a confrontation that — in your 3rd trimester — no woman wants to deal with. IMHO, people can play on their ipads but should look up when the doors first open to see if there are any elderly folks, handicapped, or pregnant women who might need your seat. Or, the best solution of all, just don’t ever, ever sit in the handicapped spaces. Then it’s free for whomever needs it. That’s my policy now.

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