So the other day I took metro to work. I did this for years and most of the time it was fine. I decided to take one of the seats designated for handicapped people and seniors. While I am neither of those, I figured I was safe since I am obviously pregnant. Besides, there were seven other seats occupied by people who, from what I could tell, were not pregnant or in dire need of the seats.
You know where this is going, right? If you know anything about my kind of luck, you know where this is going.
So after a few stops, a woman gets on. I saw her for years and years on the train. I knew from her badge that she worked at the Pentagon. Who knows, maybe she knew me too (I’m inclined to say, probably not). So the train is packed and she’s standing. Then I hear a man beside her say, “Say ‘Excuse me.’” So she goes, “Excuse me,” and points to the handicapped sign over my head. I pull out my earbud.
“These seats are designated…”
This is being said with the lemon yellow SmarTrip card being brandished. She was literally pulling the senior card on me. I’ve seen her whip out the almighty card on someone else before and now it was my turn.
So I stood up (I should have placed a hand on the small of my back and struggled to rise for emphasis) and said “I sat here because I’m pregnant. I usually don’t take these seats.” I sat back down (imagining The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” theme playing in the background).
She says, “Oh, I see.” And instead of turning to one of the other seven candidates, she stands there like she’s going to patiently wait for the next 3 ½ months to pass until I have the baby and she can rightfully claim her seat.
Most people wouldn’t give this a second thought. All I could wonder was why I had been singled out. I wore my gray hoodie over my work clothes because the one fleece jacket that still fits just makes me look fat, and when you're pregnant and feeling fat it helps you feel better to wear clothes that help make the distinction, so I went with the hoodie. But the hoodie doesn't exactly say "Off to work", either. So did she come to me because I looked like schlubby and not on my way to a “real” job?
Or, in the words of my best friend, did she come at me to re-enact a Rosa Parks scene? I want to say probably not. I know there are people that would gladly go back to those days, but I hope the people I encounter are not like that. The thing is, you don’t know, and if you’re not white and this happens to you, you can’t help but wonder.
I want to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she just wanted that seat. She usually sits there, and here I was, taking “her” seat. Maybe it’s just a psychological thing. Or maybe she's just a classist/racist.