Monday, January 30, 2017

Less badges & more love

 Image courtesy of the internet
Image courtesy of the internet

I do not wear a ‘baby on board’ badge, I find them patronising. When I wasn’t pregnant, I would look up at every stop to see if anyone needed a seat more than I do, in fact I still do this. Don’t tell Ro.
A few weeks ago, a man ‘mansplained’ to me (first time ever in London, just for your info) that I shouldn’t walk with my headphones in on winter evenings as people on mopeds were stealing phones and bags from isolated women on dark streets (a lot of assumptions already in this conversation I didn’t ask for), then he said ‘oh your pregnant, well you should wear a badge, as pregnancy can make you awfully tired’. No fucking way, really? I didn’t react to this gentleman, he thought he was doing me a favour, he thought he was helping. I understood this and thank him for his advice.
My cousin said that she wore a badge while pregnant as she felt it helped her be identified and that people would avoid walking too closely, etc. This I do understand, however this has not been what I’ve witnessed and all I’ve ever seen is people be rather ignorant to others, regardless of pregnancy, disability or age.

 Image courtesy of the internet
Image courtesy of the internet

The fact that TFL have brought out a new badge, sums up the public’s attitude to seats and who qualifies for them.
I’ve noticed on the Victoria line and the southern part of the Northern line, that there is a demographic who are the most ignorant and this upsets me. I’m not sure if there is a higher percentage of this particular demographic on these lines, and I do think it is more an individual thing, some people are more conscience of other’s needs. But, the young white professionals, especially women, do not look up. I am a young white women and this upsets me dearly.
Maybe the particular demographic have experienced issues when they have previously offered their seats to people who weren’t pregnant and they’ve received shitty comments in return, which is ridiculous and I’ve never understood this attitude. I was offered seats while not pregnant (normally post a few beers and a large pasta dinner) and I always thanked the person for the kind offer; in fact sometimes when I’ve been offered seats while pregnant I’ve thanked them and not taken them up, either because I feel full of energy or because I’m quite happy standing. What is the problem? People being kind to strangers, embrace it!!
Yet, this isn’t a race or age thing, that is just an observation based on my experience. This is actually about the fact that everywhere else in Britain (most of the time), people will look up and offer seats to those indeed, yet in London unless you wear a badge identifying yourself as someone who should be offered a seat…you can be happily ignored. And this frustrates me greatly.
A friend of mine told me about a time when she was pregnant, on the Jubilee line, and another pregnant woman stood over a man in the ‘priority seat’ and tapped her badge without saying a word. This made me livid, the badge does not entitle you to a seat, it gives people a cue to offer you a seat if they see you. But surely, the cue should be that you look in need, the cue should be that people look up regardless of what seat they are in and offer seats to those who need them. It shouldn’t be an us and them thing, it should be an everyone thing.

 Image courtesy of the internet
Image courtesy of the internet
I would personally offer those hungover a seat, if they wore a badge. Traveling while hungover has to be one of the worse things EVER!!! And having a seat can assist this….I know this for a fact, I have done it many, many times. Now, you cannot cry ‘but they made themselves that way’, as so did the majority of pregnant women. And let’s be fair, the times when you really want a seat, the first trimester, you are not supposed to talk about pregnancy, in case something goes wrong (fucking ridiculous); or during the third trimester, when you are traditionally the size of a freaking house and even those who are hard of sight could see that a seat offer might be nice.
I feel that this situation goes hand in hand with the fact that being in a wheelchair, appears to not demand people a space on a bus, yet it should. I feel very strongly about this matter. If you have a pushchair, you can fold it up, regardless of whether your baby or child is asleep. It is a mild inconvenience, however being in a wheelchair can be a HUGE inconvenience to life generally, regardless of trying to get around London in a timely manner. Most of the underground is not designed for wheels, so buses are a life line to those bound by them. GENERALISATION WARNING: most of the people who refuse to move their prams for those in wheelchairs, are also the kind of people who would tap their badge at someone on the tube and demand a seat…completely hypocritical. You demand a seat but won’t consider making space for others when it isn’t practical to yourself – disgusting!
It all makes me so sad. Why can’t we all be a little more open minded and kind to each other, constantly putting ourselves in the place of others. Being in a wheelchair can make living a “normal life” very difficult, just look around you when you are out next, consider how many places have a step to get into them or have floors which are only accessible by stairs…a good 80+% of London is this way. Having a pram should highlight the plight that these people go through daily, we should be more aware and ready to fight their corner, as we have experienced it, temporarily, but still we’ve seen and felt the plight they struggle with every day, however we still have people refusing to move or try and accommodate those who might need a little extra thought.
I don’t know how to resolve this issue. The courts have now ruled that wheelchair users have the right of space on the buses and yet people still refuse to be considerate. TFL now have two badges and within the next ten years will probably have a host of multi-coloured badges highlighting people of varying ailments who should be offered a seat…there seems no end in sight, other than maybe, just maybe we all go back to being a little kinder and nicer to each other and try to consider other people’s life experiences a little more.

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