Pregnant Commuter Sits On Floor Of Train Because The World Is Full Of Selfish Twits

pregnant-woman-train

The real woman in this story is definitely not as happy about trains.

Imagine you are on a crowded commuter train and you see a visibly-ill pregnant woman sitting on the floor. Do you volunteer to give up your seat so she can sit down, or do you look askance and keep playing Candy Crush on your phone? If you’re a regular rider of the Surbiton to Waterloo line in London, it’s apparently the latter.

What? Yes. Victoria Poskitt says she was forced to sit on the floor after no other passengers would give up their seats on a morning train—that certainly seems to be a rarity in how pregnant women are treated in public! She is five months pregnant and says she has attempted to secure a special pass that allows pregnant women to sit in first class when there are no other seats available. But South West Trains, the company that operates the train she rides three days a week, says they only give passes to women who are over 20 weeks pregnant and who ride the train with a weekly, monthly or annual pass. Poskitt only rides it three days a week; The other two days, she works from home.

When I first saw this story, I was distracted by the photos of Poskitt, in which she somberly holds her belly and gazes at the camera like the most serious deer-in-the-headlights ever. But that really wasn’t a charitable or kind reaction, especially when I actually read the story and learned what she went through. Poskitt told the Evening Standard:

“I thought they might be willing to make an exception, particularly after I told them about what happened, but after conversations with various managers they’ve flatly said ‘no’, saying policy is policy. I don’t honestly know [what to do next], I keep trying with South West Trains, I’m throwing myself at their mercy because they could make all the difference to the last few months of my pregnancy. They said to me that if I’m feeling unwell I should find a guard; if they’ve been on one of their trains they should know that’s impossible. Then they said if you’re feeling unwell you should pull the emergency cord. Really?”

I mean, come on. This company can’t give her a pass because she doesn’t ride the train often enough? If she’s feeling sick, find a guard? That’s bullshit. I guess there is some debate over whether or not the other passengers on the train realized she was pregnant when the incident she describes happened, but as horrifying as it is that no one stood up to give a sick woman a seat, the real injustice here is what’s happening with the transportation system. I think think her story should be more than enough to get her a pass. And hell, at this point, her experience has been covered by more than a few UK media outlets, so South West Trains should give her a pass if only to avoid the poor publicity!

I feel like I am always railing against unfair treatment of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers here on Mommyish. And hey, I guess I am. But weird, sketchy, and morally-questionable treatment happens all the damn time, all over the world! I am not saying that pregnant women are special snowflakes who need to be treated with kid gloves, but I don’t think it would kill South West Trains to give Poskitt a first-class pass. Let’s hope the fact that she went public will help her get a smidgen of human consideration.

Photo: Shutterstock

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    • Life-Sized Mommy

      Followed the link and that woman is OBVIOUSLY pregnant. I can’t believe no one would give up a seat for her, especially if she was ill.

    • Katherine Handcock

      To me this isn’t a pregnant-woman issue; this is a basic human kindness issue. Someone should have given up their seat, not because she’s pregnant, but because she was sick. It’s too bad that she can’t get the specific pass that allows her to sit in first-class, but she shouldn’t have to. No one — man or woman, pregnant or not, old or young — should find a whole train car unwilling to give up a seat to someone who is visibly ill.

      • Ddaisy

        Agreed. I commented in a previous article that I’d be terrified to assume a stranger on the train was pregnant, but if I saw someone sitting on the floor, it reeeeally wouldn’t matter whether they were pregnant or not. That person clearly needs a seat!

    • Carolina

      So would I be wrong in pulling the emergency cord every day until I got the pass…?

      • TwentiSomething Mom

        No, and when someone goes flying out of their seat when the train stops you grab it!

      • Allyson_et_al

        Brilliant!

    • Crusty Socks

      So much for the myth of British manners

      • Kat

        When I was six months pregnant and riding the DC Metro, men practically jumped out of the way to offer me their seat. Yeah, America!! (Though it may have had more to do with my awesome bitch face induced by heartburn that never. ever. ended.)

      • ChickenKira

        The people who ALWAYS offered seats to me when I was pregnant were high school students (usually male TBH) from a local public school that doesn’t have the best reputation.

        This school is known for having the police called several times a week, yet even kids that go there knew to offer the pregnant lady a seat. The rest of the general public did the “oh look I’m looking at the floor so it looks like I haven’t seen the pregnant lady *looks up* crap she’s still there, look at floor again *looks up* AHH she’s standing in front of me! time to start fiddling with my watch, oh look my watch is so interesting, oh look, that teenage boy offered her seat, I can look up again”.

      • Helen Hyde

        In my experience… A lot of people in London aren’t British.

      • Emily

        Wow. So… foreign people don’t have manners? Is that what you meant to say? Because that is what your comment is saying. I have been heavily pregnant on London and other British transport systems, and have had people of all races be very kind and very horrible. It’s not down to how lily white British they are.

    • Guest

      If there are seats in first class available, she has an apparent option to buy that ticket. This isn’t a “they won’t make what I need to be healthy and safe possible” question; this is a “they won’t make it free for me like I want” question.

      • CW

        She presumably wouldn’t know whether or not there were any coach seats available until she’s actually on the train, by which point it would be too late to upgrade.

      • Helen Hyde

        There aren’t first class tickets on SWT. Its similar to the tube.

      • Guest

        Helen, then what is her complaint against them? Per the article, she’s arguing to be given a free pass, which would allow her to sit in first class. From the article:

        “Mrs Poskitt, 40, who commutes from Surbiton for her job in marketing, said SWT were unsympathetic when **she asked for the pass, which allows pregnant women to sit in first class if there are no seats.**”

      • Byron

        I thought the same thing. Why can’t she buy the 5 day pass even though she only will use it for 3 days? Why can’t she buy those first class seats like everyone else? I don’t know how the train thing works (and all my experience with trains is the Japanese “crammed like sardenes” model) so I’m unsure how this thing operates but you should be able to buy the seat if you so desperately need it.

    • krock19

      I took the T (subway in Boston) every AM & PM up until the week I delivered. I would say that people rarely offered me a seat. And the people that did were typically younger (high schoolish) men or older construction workers that looked like they had been on their feet all day. It annoyed me to no end… not so much because I needed to sit but because getting pushed and elbowed repeatedly during rush hour is awful when you are pregnant. Now, I always keep an eye out for pregnant or injured people and offer my seat. I’ve also publically shamed people for not offering a seat. But I only did that for others – I never felt comfortable asking people for a seat for myself.

      • CW

        We lived in Boston when I was pregnant with my 2nd child, and one time in my 3rd trimester I was the only one who gave up my seat on the T for an elderly lady who came on the train. I did it because I was young and healthy and while it was uncomfortable for me to stand, I was physically capable of doing so. But seriously, Bostonians- it shouldn’t be up to the hugely pregnant woman to give up her seat.

      • MyBellyGetsASeat

        This is my 2nd pregnancy taking the NYC subway daily… I almost NEVER get a seat on a crowded train by virtue of belly alone, it only seems to happen when I have dark circles under my eyes and just look BEAT… and it’s almost always a middle age or older woman giving up their seat (or kicking their male companion to give up their seat).
        Of course if I felt I actually NEEDED a seat, I’d be ASKING for one, but it’s interesting to see how often it’s offered (almost never) without asking.

    • Natasha B

      So this isn’t going to be popular….but didn’t mommyish just run an article (or maybe it was STFU parents) about how annoying it is that pregnant women/women with small kids seem to expect preferential treatment? How dumb everyone thinks the ‘pregnant’ parking is-mothers included? And assume they are special snowflakes? So it sucks she had to sit on the floor, I agree! Maybe she should have forked over for a first class seat. It just seems like a double standard here. Yes, it would have been good manners to offer a pregnant woman a seat.

      • TwentiSomething Mom

        Very true. I think the difference is that while pregnancy is not a disability, it can create disability-like symptoms or conditions for the person. A woman can suffer if she stands too long and may need to sit to alleviate nausea and swollen feet or dizziness where for a person with an actual child its a matter of comfort.

      • Natasha B

        A person with diabetes could suffer those same symptoms. A person with the flu/cold could feel the same. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be considerate of others, I just feel like this woman was kinda throwing a fit to got to the media and expect to get special treatment just because she is pregnant, when so many people may suffer from ailments and not expect preferential treatment.
        A few months ago, I was looking for a parking spot at a packed Nordstrom store. (In frigid MN, in November). Someone pulled out of the pregnant spot, so I was all excited, until some young, single guy cut me off and took it. Was I pissed? Sure! Here I am, first trimester, sick as a dog, having to trek across a huge parking lot with my 15mo and 3yo in tow. Did I go in nordstrom and demand they have his car towed? No. Did I call the media? No. I went on with my life. I just feel this woman is crying for attention….

      • Kelly

        Exactly. When I was pregnant, I thought it was super considerate for places to have a expectant mothers spot and it made a difficult time in my life a little easier but I never felt entitled to it.

      • brebay

        so can a multitude of ailments that do not qualify as disabilities.

      • rrlo

        I know I was just thinking that… And I agree with you, it is good manners to offer a pregnant woman a seat. But since it is not illegal – no one can force it.
        I would also like to point out that STFU commentators were in an uproar when parents took a baby to a fancy restaurant – and I got in all sorts of “Internet trouble” when I pointed out that while it is good manners to not take an infant to a fancy restaurant, parents are not legally obligated to do so.

      • Natasha B

        Yes! Thank you. It just feels rather whiny and double standard. Yes I’ve been pregnant (currently, actually) and feel shitty and know how awful it can be. I don’t find myself whining to the news or expecting preferential treatment from a transportation business, however.

      • Maria Guido

        I would get up for anyone who was visibly sick – not just pregnant women! I used to ride public transport on a daily basis – and i swear people are losing all sense of common decency. And now that people have their phones to hide behind, it’s just getting worse.

      • Natasha B

        I would too! I’m not saying that the train wasn’t full of selfish d bags, and it really sucks that she was sick and 5 mos preggo and was forced to sit on the floor, because I bet she felt awful. I just don’t think she should expect the train company to give her a free first class pass. Or that she had to take to a news outlet to complain. Because where would it end?
        ‘Hi, I’m 26 weeks pregnant and this huge baby is sitting on a nerve in my left hip and my back hurts constantly, so upgrade me to free first class on my trans Atlantic flight, mmmk?’ No.

      • the_ether

        She wouldn’t be asking for something no one else gets, like in your flight analogy. She misses out on this arrangement they already have because she’s only riding the train a bit less than other pregnant women. Jeez.

      • Katherine Handcock

        I made a comment above that to me, this has nothing to do with her being pregnant, but the fact that she was visibly sick. Pregnancy doesn’t necessarily require preferential treatment, but if someone is in front of me on any form of transit sinking to the floor because they’re sick? I don’t care if it’s a 6’6″, 250 lb MMA wrestler, he needs a seat.

      • Natasha B

        Yes, you would. And I would to! I wasn’t saying that someone shouldn’t have offered her a seat, obv the train was full of idiots. My point was, I’m sorry, but this is the real world, and you can’t expect preferential treatment because you’re sick and pregnant. Lots of people are sick and pregnant. Lots of people are sick and dying. Everyone feels like crap some days and would just like a seat….but we all don’t go to the news and complain about it, and demand free first class from a transportation company. That’s what bothered me.

    • Monica

      Did the preggo in question ask anyone to forgo their seat for her? I mean if the other commuters were too busy playing Flappy-Angry-Crush-Bird or whatever to even look up or notice her bump, then it doesn’t sound like she needs to be huffy with them while just expecting everyone to jump up for her as soon as she sets (swollen puffy) foot on the train, does it? I agree that because she was ill she should have gotten a seat preference, however some people in the world suck and that sucks but it’s not everyone. Also the preggo commuter in question probably has no idea if any of those “awful” people taking her seat had a visible (or not) disability, other health disparity, etc. And yes, I’m sure there were some people who saw her situation and just didn’t care, which is horrible, but not all of us are like that.

      • Lu

        I agree. I find it hard to believe that if she would have called someone out, they would have turned her down. She shouldn’t have to ask, but often I’m more caught up in my phone than I’m proud of. It’s possible no one really cared to notice her at all

      • emily_bemily

        The article says she did inform fellow passengers but was unable to get a seat

    • Helen Hyde

      THAT IS MY TRAIN LINE and this does not surprise me in the least. The bit about first class is odd because there are not first class tickets available on that route and most trains don’t have a first class section. BUT the amount of times I had to stand on oublic transport in London when visible pregnant… I lost count,

    • chickadee

      I feel sorry for this woman, but I am not sure what the train company is supposed to do if (as one commenter mentions) there aren’t any first-class seats on her train anyway, and her fellow commuters are rude bastards (btw, autocorrect wants me to call them ‘rude mustards’). The article mentions that the trains have courtesy seats for pregnant women, so either they were filled with other pregnant women or with mustards.

      I recommend falling on people next time. Or vomiting on them.

      • brebay

        vomiting would get her an entire row, she could stretch out!

      • MyBellyGetsASeat

        I was thinking vomiting on them might work…

    • Rachel Sea

      Most people are rude or oblivious, and there is little to be done about it, except to raise your kids right. I’ve been on buses and trains on a walker or crutches and been unable to get a seat (though I always got back at the people around me, it’s hard to hang onto a bar and a mobility aid while balanced on one foot).

    • pineapplegrasss

      I think she’s exaggerating for attention. And, I’m not unkind or unsympathetic. I’m sure standing while pregnant/sick sucks. Was she dressed like that at the time? In a tight form fitting dress that displays her belly? 5mo pg w/ your first and most women don’t stick out obviously. And, if you’re sitting on the ground, its even harder to tell that one is pg. I think she just wants a free upgrade. Nothing said she was barred from buying a first class ticket. I don’t ride that train, so I cant really speak from that experience, but I’ve always seen plenty of men and women, young and old, give up a seat for a fellow passenger in need on trains and buses.

      • brebay

        I have to agree; we’ve seen so much of this lately. I really can’t believe she asked and couldn’t get any takers.

      • Kat

        Eh, I wouldn’t have so much faith in humanity.

      • brebay

        I live in the midwest. Polite, courteous bigots. They may believe you’re burning in hell, but they will hold the door for you!

      • Michelle

        I could depend how she asked as well. “Excuse me, I’m not feeling well, can I have your seat?” would get a very different reaction from declaring “Well I guess everyone on this train has their head too far up their ass to notice that I need a seat”

        (Not saying she said either of those things, but the response people gave her would depend on her tone and what was actually asked)

      • brebay

        Ha! I would TOTALLY give up a seat for anyone who kept it that real!

    • Youthier

      I have some sympathy here. When I was 8 months pregnant, we were doing an hour wait at BW3′s to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Not only did no one give up their seat, one woman was using a second chair FOR HER PURSE in the waiting area.

      She was lucky I was too damn tired to slap her when she told me no.

      • the_ether

        I ask, and then if they refuse I tell them what they will do, and if they don’t do it I pick the bag up and put it on their lap. Of course, this is usually school kids.

      • gothicgaelicgirl

        this drives me mad.
        WHY do people feel the need to take up a seat with a bag?
        I’ve been guilty of popping my rucksack on the chair next to me to work on college stuff, but as soon as the train started getting full, that sucker was on the ground.
        The train line I took, there would only be about 10 people until a certain stop. so i had about a half hour of uninterrupted work done before i’d have to move the bag, but i ALWAYS did.

        I’ve seen firsthand people who refuse to give up their seat for a pregnant lady and it sickens me. I was raised with courtesy, so I always give my seat up.

        This is not a humble-brag, it’s just how I was raised, and after seeing how my mother used to be treated when she was pregnant was awful!
        She is a very small lady, very tanned skin. When she was visibly pregnant, she would politely ASK someone would they mind letting her sit, for one stop?
        The amount of abuse she got was unreal- if it wasn’t the “You CHOSE” TO GET PREGNANT spiel, it was the racism card- “Would you get a seat in Iraq???” (She’s Indonesian!)

        Sickens me

    • K.

      Riiight.

      Had I come up to a NYC cop and wailed, “I’m pregnant and nobody gave up their seat on the train!!” I think I’d get a “life’s tough” sympathy smile.

      Which is pretty much what I’m giving this woman.

      (and before I get flamed, no I don’t agree that she was ignored by other passengers, but being inconsiderate is not a crime, and yes, I have been pregnant and stood on a train for 45 minutes. And that happened into the 9th month)

      • Natasha B

        Yes, exactly!

    • Kat

      People let me sit on the floor of an Amtrak train for an hour or so when I was eight months pregnant. I even asked the employees if they’d help me ask someone to move since no one would acknowledge me on my own, but I was just told that it was first come, first served.

      It’s the truth. It wasn’t their responsibility to find me a seat, and it wasn’t anyone else’s responsibility to move for me. I could’ve tried to arrive ten minutes earlier. Still, it saddened me that none of the 100-200 (I can has estimations?) people on a full Amtrak train gave two shits that I had nowhere to sit.

      Such is life.

    • Kelly

      I had a super shitty pregnancy where I threw up daily the whole time and I even cringed at her demands.

      Yeah, it would be nice if people gave up their seat for her and I’m sure that sometimes someone does but I don’t see how she can demand it from the train company.

      She has options here, she’s just not willing to utilize them because of her staggering sense of entitlement.

    • Helen

      Chivalry is certainly on its way out. As a pregnant woman recently leaving the mall with my hands full, I was yelled at by a large man (with empty hands) who was upset I didn’t hold the exit door for HIM. I was verbally assaulted for not “throwing my shoulder into the door” to hold it. So sad.

    • darras

      People on English trains are (in general) total dickbags.. Last time I visited my family in November I was on a train out of London Bridge with my at-the-time-four month old son in my lap. Admittedly a gent had been kind enough to get up to allow me to sit with my baby. But I actually sat and watched as several people blatantly ignored this lady in her 80s step onto the train and NOBODY got up for ages. I was actually on the verge of standing with my son so that this lady could sit when she finally managed to guilt somebody into giving up their chair. I mean.. really?? As a woman who would always give up my seat for anyone elderly or ill it horrified me.

    • JaneDoe27

      When I was very pregnant with my first son, I had to commute by bus/subway/bus every day in Toronto. I can’t remember a single day I wasn’t offered a seat by my fellow passengers. Teenage boys were the best at jumping up to offer me theirs. Lots of boys here in Toronto being raised right by their mommas!

    • keanesian

      When I was very pregnant, I just (subtly/not subtly) leaned my belly in between people’s faces and whatever they were reading/playing with. if they didn’t get up/acknowledge me, someone else usually did. Passive aggression FTW!

      • Lils

        That’s pretty rude. How did you know if the people you were doing that to weren’t suffering from motion sickness, or had some kind of disability, or had just gotten off a 12 hour shift where they were standing most of time? You shouldn’t assume other people need a seat less then you just because you’re pregnant.

      • keanesian

        Then they didn’t get up. Easy as that!

    • J

      This doesn’t surprise me at all. When I was 7 months pregnant (and definitely looked it) I went to Disney in August for a family birthday. I got on the bus back to the hotel with my husband and had to stand in the front of the bus because it was full. I was a little annoyed but I knew I could handle it for the short ride… that is until I slipped on the wet floor and went flying up in the air and landed on my butt. I practically knocked into two teenagers sitting in front of me who didn’t even ask if I was ok, let alone offer me a seat or help me up. I managed to wedge myself in the aisle between the seats, talk about embarrassing. It was a wonderful older couple sitting towards the back that finally offered me a seat. They even insisted that my husband sit with me to make sure I was ok. I was shocked that no one at the front even acknowledged what happened.

    • Orlaflaaa

      I get the Northern Line in London every morning and if there’s no seat available someone sees my badge and usually gives me one. Does this lady have a “baby on board” badge?

    • orflaa

      I get the tube every morning in London. I have a baby on board badge and if there’s no seats someone will usually get up and give me one. This strikes me as odd, why didn’t she just ask at a ticket office for a badge, they’re free.

    • ScienceGeek

      I’m pretty adamant about offering my seat to pregnant and older women. I’ve noticed that, in Melbourne at least, people on trains that come with a longer trip are usually very good, and certain tram lines are better than others. We have ‘priority seating’ on our PT specifically for people with special needs, including pregnancy, and we are legally required to give them up.
      Mind you, I once had a woman offer me her seat when I wasn’t pregnant. I had a very sudden dizzy spell between two stations, and I was busy trying not to pass out and mess up everybody’s day (the train is stopped at the station until an ambulance can collect the sick person) when she tapped my hand and asked me if I wanted her seat.
      I may have called her an angel.