Pregnant Commuter Kept Track Of How Much You Suck At Giving Up Your Seat

Most of us would like to think that if we saw a pregnant, elderly or handicapped person on the train or subway, we would offer up our seat in a jiffy. But a nifty social experiment done on the New York City subway by Elizabeth Carey Smith of Brooklyn, New York, during her recent pregnancy found that while she was offered a seat the majority of the time, good manners were not guaranteed.

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During the last four months of her pregnancy, Smith kept a log of her daily subway travels from Lincoln Center in Manhattan to Greenpoint in Brooklyn. Of a total 108 full trains on which Smith embarked, 88 people saw her pregnant belly and offered up a seat. Of those offering, 48 were men and 40 were women. (One was a child, although she did not identify his or her gender.) That means a full 20 times that a pregnant woman walked onto a full subway car, other riders were either too engaged in their Sudoku to notice or too rude to offer.

Maybe I’m a Debbie Downer for focusing on the 20 times Smith wasn’t offered a seat, but Smith herself was really positive about straphangers’ good manners. “New Yorkers aren’t as rude as we like to think that we are, or as other people think that we are,” she told The Wall Street Journal. “I was sure that I was going to find out that people were terrible.” Um, thanks!

I wonder if sometimes people don’t offer women seats on trains or subways because they can’t tell if they’re pregnant or just pudgy. I have a slim frame but a little bit of a poochy belly and I have been offered subway seats before, which is embarrassing. (I was also asked by a cashier at Sephora if I was pregnant, which was the most awkward conversation ever.) Although you can obviously tell when most women are eight or nine month’s pregnant, the earlier months can be tricky. Is that a baby in there … or just a “burrito baby”?

[Wall Street Journal]