A couple of weeks ago, Jean, Sasha, and I were riding the F train. We do this a lot. It goes where we want to go, generally, and takes us back to where we live. I don’t know where we were going at the time, but what I do remember is that the train was moderately, but not insanely, crowded. All the seats were taken, but there was still room to stand.
And stand was what we did, in front of a row of seats. Eh, so what? Well, Jean is eight months’ pregnant, and seems to have been so all summer long. And there was this guy sitting right in front of us, maybe in his mid-20s, with headphones and eyeglasses on and a backpack in his lap; his face was maybe 18 inches from the watermelon-like protuberance of Jean’s belly. And he didn’t get up and give Jean his seat. He sat there, not looking at anything in particular, for station stop after station stop. Eventually, he debarked, and Jean was granted a one-stop reprieve before we too had to leave. What a dick.
This isn’t totally typical, Jean tells me. Often, people give her a seat. But not that often—and certainly not as often as people offer me their seats when I’m riding alone with Sasha. Then, my god! Look, I’m a healthy 38-year-old guy who has no trouble standing in a subway car, and Sasha, though only 3 and two-thirds years old, is certainly capable of doing the same, no matter how ear-splittingly she may whine. But still, we walk onto the F train and everyone offers us their seat: middle-aged women, gorgeous young creatures, gym-built behemoths, old Chinese dudes in sweat-stained undershirts, businessmen in somber suits and Happy Socks. It’s incredible how polite everyone is, and although I’m thankful for their collective kindness, I’m also a little put off. Do I look that harried and wiped out? Am I cloaked in an aura that declares, “Danger! This father incapable of guarding his kid for three stops!”? Or is it just some bending-over-backward to be nice to an incredibly rare father-who’s-actually-there?
Whatever the reasoning, I wish it was as automatically there for Jean (and other pregnant ladies) as it is for me. But only because that would make me feel less guilty and lazy about so speedily and wholeheartedly accepting the offers.