Thursday, 1 May 2014

Guest Post // Public Transport Courtesy


Public Transport - Does Common Courtesy Still Exist?

I recently spent a weekend in London supporting my husband who ran the London Marathon, immediately followed by 4 days in Paris for our last trip away before Baby C arrives. Quite an exciting few days really! My husband did really well in the marathon and we wearily but happily made our way around Paris and saw many of the spectacular sites on offer whilst sampling some delicious French food.

The point of this post, though, is to reflect upon what those six days in two major European cities - with all their hustle and bustle - were like for a six-month pregnant woman relying on public transport and tired feet to get around.

When we booked to go to Paris, a good few people recalled stories from their own trips there about the rudeness of the Parisians and how arrogant they generally were. I've come across far too many rude and arrogant English people in my time, so I do have a habit of being more than a little sarcastic if, say, I hold a door open for someone who then neglects to thank me or a shop assistant is too busy gossiping with his or her colleague at the tills to interact with me as the customer. I'm a red-head, what can I say?! With this in mind, I wasn't particularly fussed about experiencing rude French people and went with neutral expectations. To be honest, the same can be said for London really, given that only 6 months ago my cousin was complaining that, at 8 months pregnant, she was rarely offered a seat on the bus in London.

So what were my experiences? I'll start with London. Our capital city is a vast, sprawling mixture of architecture, culture, history, tourism, business and pretty much anything else that could be thrown into the melting pot. People walk, run, cycle, taxi, drive, bus and train to their own personal, hectic schedule and this can often give out an aura of selfishness as busy people put their heads down and move on with their busy lives.

Maybe the difference was marathon day, maybe it was my rather large 28 week bump, maybe it was a bit of both, but as I travelled around on what must be one of London's busiest weekends of the year I experienced what can only be described as common courtesy. People chatted to me about bump, smiled as they walked by and offered me their seats on the crowded underground as I made my way around the city to cheer my darling husband through his 26 mile journey. One girl, who looked on the surface to be quite young, arrogant and drunk, transpired to be friendly, observant and lovely to chat to - Appearances can be very, very deceiving!

What about those rude Parisians though? Surely they're live up to their English-hating stereotype and choose to throw me off of the metro ahead of offer me a seat? Actually, no! Phil and I took at least 4 or 5 metro trips per day, plus the odd train and bus ride. On every journey I was offered a seat if one wasn't immediately available. With a grateful "Merci" (Because by then I was ready to sleep for a month!) politeness and respect managed to overcome any language barriers and give my tired, achy feet and hips a well-needed rest between the walking.

There was one metro ride in Paris, on a very busy carriage, where Phil and I only just managed to jump(!) on board before the doors closed. In the rush, nobody could possibly have been expected to notice bump and I was happy to squeeze into a safe corner on the opposite side from the doors. As the train emptied slightly, one lady who was standing noticed me also standing and when a seat became available, she guarded it with her life and called me over. She did then proceed to tell all the other passengers off for not giving up their seats for me; This caused me great embarrassment because I was fully aware that few could have seen my pregnant state, but I thought again how lovely it was to experience the kindness of strangers.

I'm an independent person, always have been, but I am accepting that my mobility, energy and capacity for standing for long periods aren't what they used to be. If I was sat on a bus or train in my current bumpy state and saw someone in greater need, I would stand and offer them my seat in an instant. But recent experience has made me think that actually, I probably wouldn't need to because others who are more mobile and less tired than myself would probably offer too.

I know there are rude people out there, I've experienced them in many guises and situations, but as much as I often proclaim to dislike the general public (as a collective, you understand!), I must say that last week mellowed my attitude slightly. Maybe this isn't such a terribly inpolite world after all.

What do you think? Have you had particularly positive or negative experiences whilst pregnant or in need of assistance? Let me know your thoughts and thanks for reading.

Today's Guest Post was written by Hannah, what a fab post and great to see the comparison of two different major cities - you can view her blog here, Twitter here and BlogLovin here. If you would like to write a post for us, please contact via twitter or email thank you :)


  1. Interesting post :) I had a very long train journey this week, starting in London at evening commute home time. The train was rammed when I boarded and, being 5 months pregnant and very tired and achy after a long day, my heart was sinking - then a lovely lady ahead of me pointed to the empty seat she'd been going for and told me to take it. I didn't know whether anyone on a packed commuter train would give up a hard won seat for a pregnant woman but my faith was definitely restored!

  2. Nice to know that occasionally manners prevail!

    I haven't got any experience lately of public transport but I do have a toilet queue courtesy complaint! I joined the queue for the ladies at a National Trust venue at 29 weeks and large! At that moment there were five people ahead of me and I was beginning to do a subtle wee dance and clutching the bottom of my bump as though it would hold the wee in. Despite the ladies in front noticeably looking at my bump there were no offers of letting me hop in front! Am I on my own when I say I would always offer a pregnant woman to wee before me?! If that happens again now that I am 32 weeks I may have to consider drastic alternatives such as a she wee or the sink! (*joking*!)


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