I’m lucky to exclusively commute to work by taking the subway (here we call it BART) and walking. It has improved my quality of life by leaps and bounds from when I commuted 1.5 hours by car each way for my last job. However, (as i’ve discussed before) being pregnant has tuned me in to a really f-up dynamic on public transportation as it relates to disabled/pregnant people. Occasionally, people offer me a seat right away but i’d say 75% of the time I have to ask for the seat for them to give it up. At least now that my bump is really present, people don’t give me a lot of attitude when I ask for a seat (that are clearly marked for the disabled/pregnant riders).
Yesterday I had two really frustrating interactions. In the morning when I got on the (always packed) train all of the disabled seats were taken. A woman was sitting in one of them (next to a person with a leg brace) and she was putting on her make-up. I don’t like to assume someone isn’t disabled based on outward appearance so I usually say something like “if you don’t need the seat, can I sit down?” So when I asked this woman for a seat she replied “i’m expecting too.” The person with the brace looked at her skeptically and in realizing we both knew she was full of crap, she stood up and gave me her seat. The woman with the brace said she was really frustrated with BART riders when it comes to this stuff, particularly men, because its almost always women who give up their seats. The make-up lady then butted into our conversation saying “if you want to be equal to men, how can you expect people to give you a seat? She kept rambling on about how her sons told her that women who want to be “equal” need to suck it up and act like men. Both I and the brace lady spoke up about how everyone needs to be respectful and give seats to people who need them and the make-up lady just kept going on. I had to put my headphones on to keep from punching her.
That afternoon, I was able to get one the pregnant/disabled seats right away. After the train got really packed, a woman with a cane who appeared very unsteady got on the train. All of the disabled seats were taken and after noticing that no-one else had offered her a seat I got up and gave her my seat. The woman with the cane was really thankful but was also concerned because I have a really large belly-but I said she should take the seat. Then the woman sitting next to her insisted she give me her seat-even though she was also unsteady and had to hang on to her daughter. Despite my protests, she wouldn’t sit back down, so I took the seat. During this entire exchange, no-one else on the train offered a seat. I’d like to say that I said something, but I didn’t. I just wasn’t up for a confrontation. But wow is BART lowering my opinion of humanity. And i’m just getting a teeny tiny glimpse into the difficult world that people with disabilities face.
Here is a picture of my growing bump: