Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Seat selfishness shame

It’s the small things that improve the quality of life for everyone. This could, perhaps, involve not just throwing your McDonalds detritus from your car window (as I saw someone do yesterday), but actually bag it up and bin it at home. It could mean saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to a harassed Pakistani shopkeeper who’s probably had two armed robberies this week. It could also mean GIVING UP YOUR FUCKING SEAT ON THE TUBE to my heavily pregnant girlfriend.

The lack of civility in our capital city often gets me down, but this time it’s personal. I know that a seat on the Central Line at rush hour is gold-dust, but surely that doesn’t excuse such selfishness? I also know chivalry is dead, but it’s inexcusable that it’s men who are least likely to give up their seat.

I’ve travelled with Emily a few times and there’s certain depressing repetitious choreography to what happens:

1. Emily moves into the aisle between the seats to avoid being squashed in the area around the doors.
2. The lucky seatholders shiftily look up to see her pregnant state (which is massively obvious now).
3. They gutlessly avert their gaze, desperate to avoid catching Emily’s eye and being shamed into giving up their seat. The “oh, I was so into reading the brilliant ‘Green Room’ gossip column in my Metro that I didn’t realise there was a pregnant woman there!” tactic.
4. They look around them, hoping that someone else will give up their seat before they have to.
5. Sit back and relax – maybe she’ll get off at the next stop?

This never fails to infuriate me, so I now pipe up and explicitly ask “won’t anyone give up their seat for my pregnant girlfriend?” They rarely do, even then.

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