So now I’m just over five months and I have a definite ‘pregnancy’ shape. Huge tum, big boobs – you get the picture. Now that I am more instantly recognisable as being up the duff, it was time to bring out the big guns, otherwise known as the TFL ‘baby on board’ badge.
This little sucker is supposed to formalise my condition and instil a sense of valour in my fellow commuters with the upshot being that they’ll let me have a seat and, maybe, just maybe, not completely cajole and push me until I am like a swatted fly upon the tube train door.
But the thing is that I feel guilty. Every commuter is living their own version of hell whereby the only solace is finding a seat. I hate the idea that I can just come strutting (waddling) up and demand a seat on a packed train. Why? Because I’m horribly British and, perhaps this is the more salient point, I hate it when other people do it. Anyone who jumps on a packed mainline train at the last minute and obviously needs a seat does my head absolutely in. Wait for the next bloody train! I want to scream. Have some self-awareness! Be your own advocate instead of relying on others!
Because this is the thing: if you know that you have special requirements then you have to be the first person to be responsible for that. All through my pregnancy to date, I have never gotten on a train or a tube where I wasn’t prepared to stand for the journey if a seat wasn’t available. I have let tubes sail by and have waited for the next mainline train to roll in, all to secure myself the seat that I need. Is it wrong to expect others to do the same? I don’t particularly think so.
Now that I have the badge, I’m not sure what my stance is. Do I test my new source of power? It seems like that’s going to leave me somewhat disappointed as there ain’t a lot of people out there who won’t do the old oh-are-you-pregnant-sorry-I-didn’t-see-your-badge-until-someone-else-stood-up dance (this comes from the same school of social bad manners as seeing someone you don’t want to talk to walking straight towards you in the street and whipping out your mobile to check messages so, whoopsie!, you didn’t see them). For me, I think my badge will be more of a warning, a little “heads up” to my fellow commuter: I’m pregnant so you will feel bad if you have a seat and I don’t.
Having said that, how much guilt anyone else may feel is completely negligible to my own. As I boarded the mainline train this morning, a particularly terrier-like commuter was doing their best to muscle onto the train first via the three inch gap between me and the commuter in front. I did my best to sound reasonable yet perturbed and asked them not to push as I was pregnant. I was allowed to board the train ahead of them but then felt like a git and let someone else go ahead of me into the seating area so that other commuters could see that I was a considerate traveller. Why, I don’t know. After all, I think anyone, prego or not, has the right not to be pushed and to ask politely that this not happen. But this is commuting, man – regular rules do not apply. Who the hell am I to come along with my long-held beliefs on social niceties and expect others not to crush my knees just because they want their legs open wider than the length of the equator?
I shall continue badge use and see what happens. I suspect that I shall hide it with a scarf or just discard it all together out of embarrassment but let’s call it a social experiment and record the findings, eh? Wish me luck; I’ll probably be stuffed into an overhead luggage rack by the end of the week.