Public Transportation – Subway Etiquette

So I’ve been pretty obviously pregnant for some time now and ride the subway at least twice a day.  I get on at the first stop in the morning so always get a seat but the ride home is more predictable.  I originally thought that it wouldn’t be a problem, that someone would get up for me but that’s not always the case.  In fact, I’m usually surprised when someone does get up.  Especially when it’s crowded, I’ll often stand for a good 4 stops before someone lets me sit down.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are three groups of people.  There are those who always give up their seat to anyone that might need it more – mother with young child, person on crutches, pregnant women, elderly person.  People in this group will get up as soon as they see you and offer you their seat.  The second group will never give up their seat.  They pretend not to see you – you see them look up from their book or open their eyes and then quickly look back down or close their eyes so it looks like they don’t know what’s going on.  The third group is the largest (and I think the one I fall in to) – they don’t really want to give up their seat – they’ll usually see if someone else offers first.  They are more likely to give it up if they are getting off soon, or if they are close to you and it would look bad if they didn’t.

I’ve had numerous conversations with people about who is most likely to give you a seat.  One woman said it was usually young Latino men; I haven’t seen any pattern, but often it is older people – in their 40s and 50s.  Some women seem particularly reluctant – they seem to think the men should give up their seats, while others are the first to offer.  Last night I was coming home late from a concert in the park – I had quite a bit of stuff and was really tired – the train was also crowded – nobody gave me a seat.  There was a young women next to me who was outraged and was non-verbally trying to intimate to people sitting down that they should offer me a seat.  Then we heard this one guy who was standing talking to his friend who was sitting (who was taking up space that would have fit two other people) and saying he should really get up.  They had a 2-3 minute conversation about it – and this girl and I got to talking and were just laughing.  I mean seriously, I can hear you talking about whether or not it is appropriate etc.  Eventually the guy got up and said “here – take the seat” in this very grumpy voice.  All very strange really.

Anyway, the vent is over – I’m working up until 4 days before my due date and I just really hope I don’t go into labor on the subway – I’m not sure anyone would help!

Comments 7

  1. von wrote:

    I hate sitting on the subway, so you can always have my seat.

    Posted 25 Jun 2008 at 9:39 am
  2. theffer wrote:

    I get up for the elderly and the pregnant. sometimes moms with kids. depends on the sort of vibe I get from the mom – if she strikes me as a mean sob I let her stand. same sort of process for the injured. If they look like the sort that are aholes – they stand as well.

    Posted 25 Jun 2008 at 9:40 am
  3. Mike wrote:

    I sit on the way in to read the paper (1st stop, always seats), and generally stand on the way home regardless after rotting in an office chair all day.

    Posted 25 Jun 2008 at 10:12 am
  4. Lara wrote:

    I would find that women about my age were the only ones to give up their seats to me when I was pregnant. The business men can’t bother to look up from their Wall Street Journals and the teenagers are staring into their cell phone or Ipods. But women my age were always the nicest. Who knows, maybe they just went through it a few months/years before I did?

    Posted 25 Jun 2008 at 1:15 pm
  5. von wrote:

    I like the fact that the subway is just another means for theffer to dispense his personal brand of bold-roast justice.

    Posted 25 Jun 2008 at 3:43 pm
  6. theffer wrote:

    Like Jay Severin, I have issues.

    Posted 26 Jun 2008 at 7:01 am
  7. Vince wrote:

    The Trib had an article like this a few months ago and set off a crap-storm of comments. Some were just mean (“Pregnant women take up more space, so they should have to stand”), some were clueless (“I paid for my seat and I shouldn’t have to give it up for anyone”) and most of it was tripe (“I always give up my seat. Why don’t the younger generations give up their seats?”).

    Really? With so many people who claim to always give up their seats, why are there so many pregnant and elderly standing?

    And no, you didn’t pay for a seat, you paid for a ride, the seat’s an amenity.

    Christine, I’m sure someone would help if you went into labor on the train – they’d kindly relieve you of your purse so you’d have both hands free to deliver your own baby.

    Posted 26 Jun 2008 at 12:21 pm