Tube wars

Being now 19 weeks into this pregnancy thing I find myself unable to stand up on the tube for very long without feeling dizzy.  The problem is, I don’t look very pregnant yet and being a fairly unassertive sort of person, and the tube being quite a ‘don’t look me in the eye, I might implode’ sort of place, I tend to just grab a seat when I can rather than asking people to move.  So far this has not caused me any great hardship, and I am mentally preparing myself for more assertiveness, which will no doubt kick in at the point where I won’t even have to ask.

However an interesting philosophical question arose in my head the other day.  If, after I find a seat, another pregnant woman asks me to give up my seat, then what do I do?  Ask her how many weeks she is, and if it’s less than 19, let the bitch stand?

More recently it occurred to me that this question is probably academic in any case, because pregnant women are more likely to ask the bloke with the skateboard to stand up for them than another woman who might be in the same condition.

Having thusly put the whole scenario out of my mind, I was completely bamboozled today when I was roused from my book by a bloke asking if he could have my seat.  I was confused by this, not because I couldn’t understand why he’d want one – he was carrying a toddler – but because there was an empty seat further along the carriage and I was sitting next to a young, healthy looking teenager who actually had a skateboard.  No word of a lie.

I sat, dumb for a few seconds trying to work out the politest way to say, ‘I’m actually pregnant, why don’t you take the empty seat which is 2 yards away, or ask Bart Simpson here if he would mind standing for a bit?’ but sadly failed to string the sentence together, and ended up apologetically gesturing in the direction of the empty seat and murmuring something about there ‘being one over there.’  He trudged off looking a little miffed to say the least.

Great guilt then ensued when I realised that he didn’t just want a seat, but my seat, because it would enable him to be next to his wife, who was in charge of the buggy (a buggy with a suitcase in it, bizarrely – I can only assume that the suitcase was heavier than the toddler.)

Anyway, the guilt was mainly due to my having failed to explain myself, rather than my apparent rudeness.  Had I understood the situation more quickly, I could have moved, he could have sat next to his wife and blissful harmony would have ensued.  Sadly, my confusion just made me look like some kind of feminist über-bint.  Oh well, every cloud…


Author: Rachel Wheeley

Comedian, podcaster, full time Mum, based in London, UK

3 thoughts on “Tube wars”

  1. I had to refuse to help a new mum carry her baby-in-pram up a flight of stairs when I was expecting #1. I felt horribly guilty about it even though I did explain that I was pregnant and she did understand.
    (I often am found slinging baby with bags in buggy though. In fact that is my main reason for having a buggy!)

  2. ah yes, that wonderful dilemma – nige gave his seat up for a lady with a badge i believe, london underground supply them or something, points out your not just a bit lardy & lazy….

    i see why he’d want to sit next to wifey but it’s really not the end of the world to sit apart, we’ve done it on various occasions. and of course shoved the luggage in the pram…. although i can assure there won’t be a pram in sight when i head up to the museums next week – can’t contemplate pram + tube…. but there will be when we attempt tooting the week after

    don’t feel bad, get a badge and well, you could have a wooden leg named smith or just had a hip replacement or actually be a very young looking nonagenarian……


  3. TfL will send you a Baby on Board badge if you call them on 0845 330 9880, thus allowing you to be slightly more assertive by continuing to do the very British thing of not actually speaking to your fellow passengers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s