≡ Menu

Chivalry Is Dead On the Busses of Melbourne

So, this didn’t happen to me, but my eldest sister, who was – at the time – seven months pregnant. She was used to rude people on public transport, but this was a new low for the collective intelligence and manners sector. On a bus, on a hot day in Melbourne, there was no were to sit. there was, however, a whole lot of blokey-bloke guys (you know the kind – short hair, play football, totally neckless?) there, probably half-drunk on awful Victorian beer. So there was my sister, bulbously pregnant, ankles swollen, uncomfortable from the warmth. How many people offered her their seat on the hour-long trip?

Not one. Not one, single person. She tried the whole “discreetly-lean-pregnant-belly-in-til-they-just-move-already” trick, and no, no one got it. She asked outright for a healthy young man to move so she could take her weight off her feet – and my sister is a small girl, that is a lot of extra weight on her small bones. Everyone refused to move for a pretty, pregnant woman – except for one elderly lady that smooshed up next to one of the beefy men (after telling him off to no avail with what I suspect was a lot of “what would your mother think”) to make room. My sister now shares my adoration of old women. 0709-11

What is with this cultural epidemic of healthy, able men refusing to yield their seat to an obviously more needy person? But on a another level, aren’t we happy that men can display their true selfish colors in almost billboard like fashion so sensible, considerate females can avoid them altogether?


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • aje July 11, 2011, 8:15 am

    AMEN administration! Amen!

  • QueenofAllThings July 11, 2011, 8:25 am

    I will play devil’s advocate for a moment (and please understand before gasping in shock that I really do believe someone should have given up their seat).

    Women have spent the last 40+ years fighting for equal rights, which has included much discussion about the fact that a pregnant woman is not a) sick or b) temporarily brain dead and is, in fact, quite capable. Many women take offense to someone offering up a seat or opening a door and will berate someone who does so. What is a confused young man to do? Even a well-mannered man may hesitate – will his gesture be appreciated or thrown back in his face?

    Now, all of that being said, it seems your sister made it perfectly clear that she wanted/needed to sit down. Let’s not bash all the men who didn’t offer her a seat (though they deserve it). Were there no women on the bus who could have gotten up for her? This is not a gender issue, but a human one.

  • Squashedfrog July 11, 2011, 8:31 am

    I don’t know whether this counts as an Ehell thing to do, or he deserved a medal. When I was around 18 I got on a bus full of college students, it was full so I had to stand (no big deal) to the side holding onto the rail.

    A few stops later, an obviously heavily pregnat woman got on. Not one of the college students moved. She actually then asked me if she could get by and I shifted out of the poor girls way and gestured to a few lads sitting down on the high priority seats to let her sit down. They pretended they didn’t hear and one actually then put his ear phones in!

    The bus driver at that point hadn’t taken off and is watching with interest. He gets out of his booth stands at the top of the bus and yells “right, one of you get up now and give this lady your seat, she needs it more than you so get up now or we are not going anywhere!” – who got up? A woman in her 30’s at the back! Have never seen so many fit young lads suddenly appear to be deaf and staring out of windows.

  • TychaBrahe July 11, 2011, 8:33 am

    She should have asked the driver for assistance.

    And what exactly does her being pretty have to do with anything? Do unattractive pregnant women not deserve to sit down? Frankly, had this been the poster’s story instead of her sister’s, I would have lost all sympathy at that point.

  • Erica July 11, 2011, 8:37 am

    To all the such people out there:

    Get a grip, and give up your seat. A woman bore you for months to bring you into this world… for goodness sake.

  • Just Laura July 11, 2011, 8:52 am

    I am proud to say that when my family took the buses at Disney World, my father not only gave up his seat to any woman or older man (or tired-looking new dad with stroller/diddy bag/baby), but he also instructed my brother and I do the same (we were about the age of 10). My father didn’t care that I was female; he said that since I was young and healthy, I should get up for those who would have difficulty with balance on a bus. My brother and I have continued that courtesy, including on NYC subways, and internationally.

    All it takes is some decent parenting. I’m sorry that the OP’s sister encountered people who didn’t receive that.

  • Jillybean July 11, 2011, 9:03 am

    @TychaBrahe – THANK YOU! I was thinking the exact same thing. I always love when I see something bad reported on the news and it is presented as somehow more tragic cause it happened to a pretty person. Whatever! Rant over! 🙂

    Ok – onto the post. I want to say two things. First – shame on those able bodied people who weren’t nice enough to offer a seat to this woman. Second – don’t assume someone is able bodied just because they look able bodied. Don’t misunderstand, I’m quite certain the majority of the folk on this bus were. But, there are many injuries and problems that would make standing just as uncomfortable as it is to the pregnant woman, but it’s not as obvious as that big, rounded belly.

  • Mjaye July 11, 2011, 9:08 am

    @Just Lauara: I was just going to post the almost exact same story about my Dad at Disney when I was 10 or 11. He did the same thing and taught me and my brtoher how to respect those who needed the seats more. I have to agree it all begins with the parenting.

  • Leigh July 11, 2011, 9:11 am

    I recently went on vacation, and was in the sky car at an airport. There was a man with his young son, probably about 4 or 5, who was having difficulty keeping his balance when the train took corners. I asked the child if he wanted my seat. He nodded shyly and I got up, just to watch his jerk of a father push him aside and plop down in my seat. The little boy ended up falling down at the next bend. I bit my tongue, but I wanted to tell that man he just won the worst father of the year award. I always give up my seat to the very young, elderly, or pregnant, but this guy obviously only cared about his comfort.

  • T July 11, 2011, 9:27 am

    My friend once got up on the DC Metro so a pregnant woman could sit down. Before she could make it, a healthy young man jumped into the seat. My friend said, very loudly, “hey, jerk, I stood up so that pregnant lady could sit!”

  • Hal July 11, 2011, 9:30 am

    I agree that progress in women’s rights and so forth has changed the “Must offer a lady a seat” rule. I live in a city and know as my fellow dwellers do that one does not mess with a certain type of young person whether male or female. Their street “cred” is more important to them than any pregnant woman. One simply endures for the duration of the ride be it bus or train. The young, pregnant woman must accept this and hope another type of rider helps her.
    I’m not sure if it applies but yesterday I overheard a conversation among three older women about the delight they would take in witnessing a man have his genitals “examined” in a way they must do to detect cancer. There were ribald remarks and much loud laughter. This in the choir robing room of my parish church before the morning service.
    Times change.

  • Lace II July 11, 2011, 9:33 am

    It’s awful that people are nonconfrontationally rude to pregnant strangers, but what’s the all the casual hate tossed in to our fellow man? Our unfortunate heroine is vaguely described as pretty while all the villanous seathogging men are cheap beer swilling neckless shorthaired football players. Even if they were actually mongloid blokey-bloke freaks, casting them as apathetic frankensteins just powers up the forcefield of hate that makes us all even less likely to give up their seats to all the world’s pregnant princesses. Just because they didn’t inconveience themselves to help a complete stranger doesn’t mean we should brand the Scarlet Letter on their foreheads to warn people of their crimes against considerate, sensible people. I’m not saying that we should throw them a parade and start up an anti-breeder charity, but it’s not like they all spit in her face from their comfy seats.

  • many bells down July 11, 2011, 9:39 am

    I’m female, and I always offer up my seat to someone pregnant, traveling with small children, or who appears older than my parents. I’ve never had someone get mad at “would you like to sit here?”, although I have had people politely decline and assure me they’re fine standing.

  • Sarah Jane July 11, 2011, 9:45 am

    I’m from the South, and men have been giving up their seats for women, pregnant or not, all my life. That being said, just because I’m used to it doesn’t mean it’s every man, and I’ve certainly seen it wane over the years. I agree with queenofallthings…a lot of men don’t know what to expect anymore. They don’t know whether it’s a priority to be gentlemanly or generally courteous or rigidly p/c.

    My husband refuses to sit down if it means a woman is without a seat. I’m a fairly modern woman, but I still think it’s sexy.

  • Squashedfrog July 11, 2011, 9:46 am

    Just an addtional thought, you can get these for the London Underground, which gets so crowded its often difficult to see immediately if a woman is pregnant.


  • coralreef July 11, 2011, 9:52 am

    The fact that the pregnant lady was pretty may not be important but the fact that an obviously pregnant woman was forced to stand in a public transport for over a long period of time is really ticking me off. Unless she mistakenly got on the adapted transport bus, I can’t believe the entirity of passengers were handicapped/sick/hurt or in need of their seats to the point of ignoring her situation.

    I was raised with the notion that healthy people should give up their seats to others when needed. I raised my children the same way and I’m happy to say that they will do this without even thinking about it.

  • AMC July 11, 2011, 9:53 am

    Maybe it’s my midwestern roots talking, but I always make it a habit to hold doors, give up seats, and show general courtesy to strangers, male or female, able-bodied or not. It’s just the nice thing to do. That being said, I’m currently 12 weeks pregnant and already starting to feel some discomfort. I can only imagine what 7 months will feel like. No, I’m not sick or disabled. But I am tired, nauseous, bloated, and have a bladder the size of a chickpea. For someone to offer me a seat so that I don’t have to *stand* on a hot, moving bus for an hour would very much be appreciated.

  • L. July 11, 2011, 9:55 am

    QueenofAllThings, I know you posted as devil’s advocate, so I’m responding to that, not to your own views. What do equal rights have to do with this? This is about a healthy person giving up their seat for someone in need. A healthy man should give up his seat for a pregnant woman, just as a healthy woman should give up her seat for a man with crutches. Or are you saying that because the women’s movement fought for pregnant women to not be fired or placed on automatic disability for several months that now society does not owe them any consideration?

    As for what confused young men should do, it’s very simple: listen to what the other person is actually asking for rather than 1) doing what you want, 2) expecting outsize gratitude for it, and 3) wrapping the whole thing up in chivalry. Actually, the best rule to tell a young man again relates to disabilities but applies to many other issues: if you see someone using a wheelchair and having trouble navigating a steep incline, don’t run right up and push them up the hill, instead be avaible in case they ask for your help, but don’t be intrusive and don’t pat yourself on the back too much if are asked for and provide that help.

  • Saucygirl July 11, 2011, 9:56 am

    I agree with queen of all things, this is a human issue, not a gender one. Anyone who is fit and able should have given up their seat. right after I had my daughter and was still learning how to get through doors with a bulky stroller, I found that the young punk guys were the most helpful. They would run to get to me quickly to help – even though I wasn’t looking pretty. 😉 women would walk right past me, and use the door next to me rather than taking two seconds longer to hold the door for me and help.

  • amp2140 July 11, 2011, 10:10 am

    While I agree that someone should have offered a seat, I have minimal sympathy for the woman in this story, because she didn’t simply ask someone politely if she could sit. Empower yourself.

    • Vicki Cole September 13, 2014, 4:53 pm

      Actually, if you read the story, it says “She asked outright for a healthy young man to move so she could take her weight off her feet ” – and I’m assuming she did so politely, since she tried more subtle hints first.

  • karma July 11, 2011, 10:14 am

    Queen of All Things, you bring up an excellent point. Pregnancy does not automatically equal disability or weakness. Heck, I worked two jobs as a waitress in two different establishments (just to make ends meet) up until the night I went into labor (that’s part of what sent me on a beeline back to college!). I’m with you there. In fact, as a pregnant woman, I’d have given up my seat to an elderly or infirm person.

  • Clair Seulement July 11, 2011, 10:16 am

    @Leigh, that’s upsetting about the poor kid having trouble balancing! That said, I was always taught that adults get to sit down (although this dad seems to be taking it a bit too far). I really just wanted to put this out there to a counter-balance to what seems to be an emerging trend here in NYC–parents with school-age children who complain that other adults don’t vacate seats for them. To expect this as a general courtesy is going a bit too far, if you ask me, and only serves to make lunkheads even less willing to help those in actual need.

    Anywhoo, while I in no way condone a refusal to vacate a seat for a pregnant or otherwise compromised passenger, I also cannot condone passive aggression: if you must, please do come out and ask for the seat. It’s a good way to remind people who are attempting to remain willfully ignorant that compassion and manners are still expected in this world.

  • alli_wan July 11, 2011, 10:23 am

    I have to agree with amp2140. If the OP’s sister wanted a seat, she should have spoken up. Pregnancy does not prevent her mouth from working. And if anyone was so rude as to intentionally push their pregnant belly into my personal space to get me to move instead of simply asking nicely, I can understand why people would not feel inclined to give up their seat. A full uterus is not a cattle-prod. If she is agile enough to aggressively shove it in my face, she’s able-bodied enough to live with the consequences of her rudeness.

  • Caroline July 11, 2011, 10:29 am


    “She asked outright for a healthy young man to move so she could take her weight off her feet” It’s in the story. She asked.

  • Riri July 11, 2011, 10:34 am

    Hmm, in Ottawa and Toronto (smaller cities I frequent don’t really have a seat-filling problem), I’ve usually observed people gladly giving up their seat for visibly pregnant women, baby carriages, older people AND people whose arms are filled with shopping bags without being told. I definitely give up my seat if someone less able is standing , but I did make a mistake once… it was a really crowded bus and lots of young people were standing. One young lady had a build that made one unsure if she was pregnant/just heavy-set (very rude to ask lor), and she had been standing almost out of my line of sight + didn’t ask anyone for a seat, so no reason to suspect she was pregnant (again, cannot go around asking every person if they’re pregnant). The older woman beside me then snapped at me in a young-people-have-no-manners tone “You have to give up your seat, that girl is pregnant.” Of course, I got her attention and immediately offered my seat. I felt bad that the pregnant girl had to stand, but I resent being spoken to that way when the situation is not obvious -_- In the OP’s sister’s case though, as she was obviously pregnant, one of the men on the bus should have immediately offered her a seat.
    tl;dr: The able-bodied: please offer your seat to people who obviously need it more. Pregnant people/physically weaker people, etc: please ask for a seat if no one jumps up right away, and please don’t scold them for not automatically moving… maybe they’re not rude, they’re just unsure? (unless you’re carrying something that obviously indicates your status, such as a walker. Then they’re just rude. In that case, scold away.)

  • Stace July 11, 2011, 10:37 am

    I’ll be honest here. It could be a bit brutal.

    If I failed to notice her when she first boarded, and her first choice of methods to ask for my seat was to attempt to use her pregnant belly to push at me, I would remain seated.

    Had she started out by asking politely, ‘please may I sit here?’, or even just stood for the minute or so that would pass before I’d happen to look up, she would have been offered my seat.

    But acting as though she’s entitled to my seat and I should just move already? Nope. Sorry. I don’t reward rudeness or entitled behavior.

    And the whole ‘pretty’ pregnant woman thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth anyway. Being pretty and/or pregnant does not entitle anyone to a seat. It would be nice if it were offered, certainly, but here is the thing: it is not rude to decline to offer your seat. Unless, of course, you are sitting in one of the seats that is designated for the handicapped and has specific signage stating you must move if the seats are needed by those for whom they are intended.

  • badkitty July 11, 2011, 10:44 am

    She did ask politely, and was ignored. So was the elderly woman who squished to make room for her and asked the men to move.

  • Mechtilde July 11, 2011, 10:54 am

    I’m sick of the way some people trot out the line that “Pregnancy is not an illness” as an excuse not to give up a seat, or be considerate to expectant mothers in other ways.

    Pregnancy may not be an illness, but it can certainly make the mother to be feel very ill- whether from fatigue, morning sickness, backache, sore hips or simply problems keeping balance. If someone looks pregnant, seems to be disabled in some way, or even seems not to be very well for some reason, a heathy person should offer their seat. You don’t have to make an issue of it, just ask if they would like to sit down.

    Doing this also helps to ensure that the person in need of a seat isn’t forced into the situation of having to ask someone for a seat, which it not a nice thing to have to do. It also ensures that people with hidden disabilities are not asked.

    Just a little give and take in times of need. It isn’t much to ask is it?

    • admin July 11, 2011, 10:59 am

      There seems to be an epidemic of reading comprehension problems with some commenters. What part of, “She asked outright for a healthy young man to move so she could take her weight off her feet,” can be construed to mean she deserved whatever rudeness she received as due consequences for failing to ask for a seat?

  • Ashley July 11, 2011, 10:57 am

    I believe that the offer should always be made to let a pregnant woman sit down. If she takes the seat, yay, if she doesn’t want it for whatever reason, then you can have your seat back (I have known some fiercely independent pregnant women who would have refused the seat). But the offer should at least be made.

  • lnelson1218 July 11, 2011, 10:59 am

    I was taught to give up my seat for injuried/old/etc person. And I have given up my seat on multiple occassions.

    Granted if I am feeling ill myself, I won’t give up my seat. (the joys of not owning a car and having to get somewhere with public transportation).

    A story on this theme. Back in high school, a friend and I were riding on the T, after a few stops a pair of elderly ladies got onto the train. My friend and I offered our seats to the ladies. Did we want to? Probably not, but we were good girls. Under what goes around comes around. The ladies didn’t travel as far as we were going to. When they were getting ready to get off at their stop, they tapped us and thanked us for getting up our seats, did we want them back? Of course we sat right back down as soon as the ladies cleared away.

  • Pixie July 11, 2011, 11:02 am

    I am the oldest of four children. Growing up in Florida, we got to take several trips a year to Walt Disney World. For those who have never been, they have a lovely bus system for transportation between the parks, hotels, and other points of interest on the expansive property. My father was always very strict with the pecking order for available seating. My mother got first dibs, as she was usually holding the youngest, then we could take any open seats. If the seats were all full, we were expected to give ours to any lady, child younger than us, elderly person. He always said that since we were perfectly capable of standing that it would be rude and unacceptable not to offer our seats. Now it is just second nature.

  • sidi-ji July 11, 2011, 11:04 am

    Firstly, in many cities, there are reserved seats for elderly, disabled, pregnant, etc. Folks sitting in those seats should be ready to surrender their seat if asked.
    All others have no imperative to behave thoughtfully– except their own conscience and ethics. The overarching problem is not chivalry, especially, but a lack of empathy.

  • Becky July 11, 2011, 11:07 am

    Amp2140, the story says she did ask someone, who refused to move.

    NYC subway rider here. I learned through experience it is better for me often NOT to explicitly offer. Offering to allow an older gentleman my seat has led to obviously hurt feelings. (I am a woman in early 30s.) In the case of a pregnant woman… Are you SURE she’s pregnant? Not great etiquette to make THAT mistake. “not pregnant just fat” is an educational Google search. (Of course, the woman in the original story did make that clear to the other passengers, so no excuse there.)

    If I see someone I think might want to sit, I often now will make a show of getting up and moving, but not making eye contact. So they can sit if they want without it being a big deal. Of course if there is some obvious need, like young children, I will ask quietly if they care to sit.

  • tinytx July 11, 2011, 11:13 am

    I’ve always been in the habit of giving up my seat if I see that a person needs it, and I’m a young female. Funny thing is once me and my husband, while in Eastern Europe, gave our seats to an elderly couple and they happily took them, while remarking that the only other time someone had given up a seat for them was in Texas. We laughed, telling them that we’re from Texas.
    This is not to say that it always happens in Texas. Once on a college campus bus, a couple got on with a young girl, maybe 5 years old. The bus was packed, she got separated from her parents and none of the guys with seats got up for her. As soon as the bus started moving, she nearly fell, but me and a few other passengers caught her. At this point I got the attention of the young, strapping guy sitting closest to this girl and ordered/asked him to give up his seat (I think it was an attitude-filled “Do you mind?!” while motioning at the tiny child). To his credit he hopped up immediately and looked embarassed that he hadn’t already done so. Right after she sits down her parents locate her and obviously thought it adorable that she had found a seat on such a crowded bus.

  • --Lia July 11, 2011, 11:21 am

    A nice story to put a better taste in your mouth after the bad ones.

    When my mother was in her mid-70s, she was in better shape than she’d been in years. Her doctor had her working out at a gym, and she was sticking to the program. We were tourists in New York and had spent a lovely day walking around the Immigration Museum. You have to take a ferry to get to it. On the way back, our feet were tired. This wasn’t because we were frail or infirm. This was because, like everyone, we’d been walking around on hard floors.

    The seats were taken. Many people like to stand looking out on the water anyway. Mom and I walk on, and she says with dismay “oh, all the seats are taken.” I didn’t think I should get a seat because I was only in my mid-40s. Others have said that you don’t deserve a seat just for being female, and I agree, but I did think the elderly may have seats even if they’re healthy. I say to my mother, “Mom, you are OLD. Just walk up to anyone and ask for a seat. If they don’t get up, shame on them.” At that moment, the ferry’s engines shut off and what had been a normal speaking voice that only she could hear sounded like a shout. The people who heard me jumped to their feet. One man insisted that I sit also. A young woman gave her seat to my mother. In that instant, all they needed was a nudge.

  • Karen July 11, 2011, 11:21 am

    Just another side of the story – I was on the subway a few months ago, when a teenager couple got on. It was crowded, and the guy literally pushed this girl on the train, almost like he was using her as a human shield. After standing for a few minutes, the teenage boy began to loudly complain and swear about how no one sitting on the train would offer his pregnant girlfriend a seat (FYI – I was standing too, and had no seat to offer) All the other passengers just stared for a few seconds, then one woman got up and offered this girl her seat. And the guy continued to curse and rant on about how everyone else on the train were rude %^&@ for not giving her a seat.

    .. This girl was rail thin! and about 17 years old! If she was pregnant, it certainly wasn’t visible to anyone on the subway. Why would we assume she was, until her boyfriend started going off about it? I’ve never been pregnant, so I guess I can’t say for sure, but do you really need a seat if you are only a month or two along? Obviously this isn’t the case in the originally story, but I think in some of these cases, it isn’t as obvious to everyone else that you are expecting as you may think it is. Once asked, of course someone should move – but I don’t think its fair to assume that everyone realizes your pregnant and not just carrying a bit of extra weight.

    Oh, and the teenagers got off the train at the very next stop – about a three minute ride total. Thankfully, because the guy was STILL berating everyone on the train when they got off. The girl kept silent, but looked like she was embrassed – I don’t blame her.

  • Snowy July 11, 2011, 11:26 am

    I think the OP meant “pretty pregnant” as in “quite pregnant.” It’s a common phrasing in some countries.

    If she’d said “pretty and pregnant” or “pretty, pregnant” (comma indicating two different things instead of one modifying the other) I would think otherwise.

  • Snowy July 11, 2011, 11:29 am

    Wait, my bad–she DID have the comma in there, so it does indicate she was pretty AND pregnant. I swear, I read that three times and didn’t see the comma! I’ll still gamble she meant “quite pregnant,” but if not, then I’m with you. How pretty she was or wasn’t should have nothing to do with it.

  • M July 11, 2011, 11:40 am

    This story actually makes me laugh a little bit. Obviously not at the rudeness of the people on the bus, but at somthing someone said on a similar site.

    A few months back, I read a post by a lady who had been tackled to the ground by the able-bodied gentleman standing next to her, in his attempt to reach the seat that had been offered to her by another passenger. She happened to be seven-months pregnant at the time, making the man’s act even more horrendous. I remember one poster stating that had this occurred in AUSTRALIA, someone would have surely kicked his butt.

    So here you have it. No country is safe from the inhabitants of planet Booron, although we certainly feel that in our home town/ country we don’t have to worry about them. No one is immune, people!!!

  • lkb July 11, 2011, 11:41 am

    It seems that many people here were responding to this:

    “She tried the whole “discreetly-lean-pregnant-belly-in-til-they-just-move-already” trick, and no, no one got it.”

    and it didn’t register when they read the next part about her asking a healthy-looking person to move.

    I admit, if someone tried the “discreetly leaning in” trick on me, I probably would have ignored it too or harrumphed over the mom-to-be’s sense of entitlement.

  • Lilybell July 11, 2011, 11:46 am

    I always give up my seat for pregnant/elderly people. I think it is far worse when someone doesn’t get up for a very elderly person. I am shocked how often is happens (I take the NYC subway every day). Just last week, I had an encounter with a pregnant special snowflake. The train was crowded, not super-packed, but there were no seats. I get on at the first stop and had a seat. It was my first day back to work after being out sick with pneumonia, and I was still exhausted and fatigued from it. There was no way I could stand for an hour without passing out. A pregnant lady got on and started giving me looks (not sure why she singled me out – probably because I was the only person without headphones), then did the lean-in manuever along with heavy sighing and rolling of her eyes. She finally said (while looking at me), “People are so rude”, and then harumphed. I then had a coughing fit (not on purpose) and I sounded really sick even though I’m no longer contagious. She glared at me again, yelled at me for taking the train while sick, and stalked away in search of someone else to kick out of their seat. I hate it when people presume they need the seat more than I do. If she had asked, I would have apologized and politely explained why I was not getting up. I definitely needed the seat that day. Instead, she chose to be passive aggressive and I simply ignored her.

  • Miss Unleaded July 11, 2011, 11:56 am

    I am rather torn about this one. The general feeling on e-hell is that it’s rude to assume someone is pregnant unless they tell you or you see them giving birth. So isn’t standing up for a pregnant woman kind of like commenting on her pregnancy when you can’t be sure she’s pregnant? This might sound stupid but I don’t give up my seat for pregnant ladies for this reason, unless she directly asks me to. Plus there were a couple of incidents when I was in my twenties where I tried to help elderly or handicapped people and had it angrily rejected and was verbally abused for my trouble.

    I have to also say that the way the OP related the story left me rather irritated. I imagine that the bus wasn’t completely full of ‘neckless, football playing, probably drunk’ young men plus one older lady. So why is it on the guys to give up their seats and not another woman? And what relevance is it that the sister is ‘pretty’?

  • LovleAnjel July 11, 2011, 12:02 pm

    I lived in Chicago for many years, taking buses every day. I offered my seat to people who looked like they needed it (preggo, older, baby, lots of kids). Very often the older gentlemen would politely decline. I once moved over several seats for a woman who was carrying an oxygen tank so it could sit next to her rather than stretch the tube out all the way from the floor. We ended up having a really nice conversation for the next half-hour. On CTA buses, the handicapped benches fold up to expose the lock-in sites for wheelchairs. When someone using a wheelchair gets on a bus, a passenger almost always pops over to pull up the seat for them. Usually you don’t even have to ask the people on the bench to move, reaching for the unlocking knob will get them to stand.

  • Ellen CA July 11, 2011, 12:16 pm

    This brings to mind an old episode of “Mad About You” where Paul politely gives up his seat on the bus to a pregnant woman, who turns out to be neither pregnant nor a woman. Hijinks ensue…

  • Chelle July 11, 2011, 12:25 pm

    I’ve got to admit – I’ve read all the comments, and I’m MORE mad about the father on the Disney train that took the seat the poster gave up for his young child. (I’m 7 months pregnant, I get it – it would have been nice to sit, and while it would have been polite of healthier people to offer a seat, a pregnant woman is not entitled to one, just b/c she’s pregnant.)
    BUT when someone offers a seat to your young child, and you selfishly shove him aside to sit down…. that makes my blood boil!!! I would not have been able to hold my tongue on that one……

  • Pam B July 11, 2011, 12:36 pm

    I think people have forgotten about the joy they get when they give…. How nice to have the opportunity to help someone out in a small way – selfish people are missing out.

  • Stace July 11, 2011, 12:39 pm

    —-What part of, “She asked outright for a healthy young man to move so she could take her weight off her feet,” can be construed to mean she deserved whatever rudeness she received as due consequences for failing to ask for a seat?—-

    I think we are responding to the fact that she outright admitted asking someone to move was her ‘last resort’. We are pointing out it should have been her first, instead of this:

    “She tried the whole “discreetly-lean-pregnant-belly-in-til-they-just-move-already” trick, and no, no one got it.” The passive aggressive entitlement of the whole thing is just off-putting, such as making sure she pointed out the girl in question was ‘pretty’.

  • siobhan July 11, 2011, 12:43 pm

    I could have predicted the type who WOULD offer a seat. Women most specifically, and especially older women, recently pregnant, or very in- shape young women. I’m “older”, in relatively good shape, and have done it myself. I’ve never had children, but it takes no imagination to realize how hard it is to stand when you’re that far along.
    On another tangent, “short hair, play football, totally neckless” was hilarious. There’s a university in a nearby town, and some of the young men came to a local gym. I mentioned to the female desk attendant that the young men from the school all had massive necks.
    She replied with a blank face, “Yeah. They have to submit their neck size along with their SAT scores.”

  • Xtina July 11, 2011, 12:50 pm

    @Karen–every pregnant woman feels different; there is no set rule on how many months along a woman might be before she feels any discomfort, especially when ones takes into consideration that a woman might not be showing but could be experiencing nausea or fatigue or any number of maladies. I was one of those (odd, lucky) ones that had a problem-free pregnancy, and other than some pulled ligaments in my thighs, I had no discomfort at all. I have known women who could barely stand due to nausea pretty much from the start.

    I ride a bus in a large southern city every day, and for the most part, men and women alike will offer their seats to those who look like they may be in need of them, and I have heard just as many polite refusals to take the proffered seat. Often, men will remain standing on the bus for the duration of the ride if any women are standing, despite the fact that there may be an obviously available seat that the women have chosen not to take—I guess a manners thing that some men have—in my opinion, this speaks very positively about those men’s upbringings, but at the same time, there would be more room on the bus if *someone* would just sit down!

    It is certainly not a God-given right that *anyone* should expect to be offered a seat out in public, whether they look like they need it or not, but this is one of those areas of etiquette that just looks very bad on a person who wouldn’t be polite enough to do so. I do find it infuriating when an able-bodied person pretends to look the other way and keeps their seat when someone who is obviously in need boards the bus (train, whatever).

  • siobhan July 11, 2011, 1:02 pm

    I picked up on the “pretty” part too, and that’s always bugged me.

    Once on a short ,”scenic, holiday” train ride, there was a tired but pleasant young mother, holding an infant, with two young children sitting on either side of her. She said to my friend and I, “If neither of you would object to holding my 2 children, you can have their seats.” What trust! Neither of us minded at all, and had nice chats with her children, but that was unusual!

    I agree about women who feel being insulted when a man holds a door or gives up a seat for a them. Sometimes it’s just plain considerate behavior. I do it, and am happy when a man, woman or child does the same. The women who object are setting manners way back. Get a grip if you object!