Working it on the A Train

This morning, a fairly crowded subway pulled up to the platform where I stood waiting. I found myself, without thinking, pulling the knot in my scarf to the side. Unbuttoning my coat. Putting my hands on my hips as I thrust my belly out as far in front of me as possible. Then, I stepped onto the car and conjured up a sad, forlorn look in the direction of any seated passenger who would catch my eye.

The way I see it, between maternity clothes and chocolate croissant cravings, I'm putting thousands of dollars a year into the local economy. To say nothing of the number of grooming products it takes to look reasonably presentable these days. The least I deserve is a damn seat on the subway for nine months out of my life.

Not getting any response, I took matters into my own hands. I approached my least favorite type of subway rider - the one who believes her purse won't be as happy in her lap as it is in a seat of its own. In my opinion, she's even worse than the rider who spreads his legs and takes up two seats as a demonstration that his penis is too large for him to sit comfortably any other way. The former should know better. The latter is just an idiot.

"Could you move your bag so I could sit down?" I asked the woman. She averted her eyes.

"I'm PREGNANT and I'd really like to sit down," I said a little louder, drawing the attention of nearby passengers who were more than happy to give her the evil eye--less in defense of the poor standing pregnant lady and more in defense of their own seats.

She took her bag reluctantly into her lap and slid over two inches, hemming and hawing the whole time. I wriggled in next to her, smiled sweetly, and thanked her in a tone that was just a little too big to sound entirely sincere.

I can only assure you it was a happier ending than last week's commutation fun, when I twisted my ankle on a midtown platform and fell to the ground in pain, while men in business suits stepped over me. New York, New York, it's a hell of a town.


Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

WTF? You should travel with a machete.

12/12/06, 11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the 6 train, when I was about 8 months pregnant I asked one of those spread-leg guys to move over--not even get up--so I could sit down. He looked directly at me and my ginormous belly and said "No." Completely shameless.

12/12/06, 11:58 AM  
Blogger moplans said...

Bastards. Seriously the suits stepped over you? I thought those were urband legends. Bet you cannot wait to move.

12/12/06, 12:09 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Ha, yes Lisa. Because in LA everyone's known for being so considerate and un-self-centered.

I guess I like a lot of tension in my life, huh.

12/12/06, 12:15 PM  
Blogger L said...

In London there is no room on trains. Ever. And there's no chance in hell that a pregnant woman would get a seat. Ever.

12/12/06, 12:24 PM  
Blogger gingajoy said...

wow, what a bitch troll...

yep--work it, girl. i miss the social powers that the bump bequeathed me (in goodhearted midwest, at least). several inches of swinging PP stomach flesh has hardly the same appeal.

12/12/06, 12:25 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Wow, what a bitchy woman. Thank goodness you were able to shame her into giving up her purse's seat. Once in Boston, I had sprained my ankle, and it was clearly wrapped and my severe limp was hard to ignore, yet no one would give up their seat on the train.

Conversely, we went to Disneyworld when I was only 8 weeks pregnant with Cordy, and if anyone on a bus heard I was pregnant, they gave up their seats right away (one older man even forced me to take his seat when I told him I didn't mind standing). It really is the happiest place on earth.

12/12/06, 12:39 PM  
Blogger CeCe said...

Wow, I thought people were only that bad in MOVIES about NY! People are pretty good here. In fact, an 75+year old woman offered me her seat in the waiting area of a restaurant the other day! (I'm in my 9th month)

12/12/06, 12:43 PM  
Blogger Redneck Mommy said...

My older brother and I used to have to take public transportation to school everyday. One day, he got on the packed bus and found the only empty seat there was. I got on the same bus a few stops down and spotted my brother, who was sitting there, all spread legged, and not moving over.

I asked him nicely to shove over and he told me NO, he needed the room.

So, as loudly as I could, and infront of the girl he was trying hard to impress, I asked him why he needed all the room. After all, I'd seen his penis and it wasn't anything to brag about.

He moved over, shut up and never sat like that again.

He also gave me a charlie horse in the arm once we were off the bus.

Good for you for shaming that cranky bitch.

12/12/06, 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is INSANE! But good for you. Work it!!!

I was in DC when I was 10 wks pg and I was suffering from a little m/s, the kind where only saltines make you feel better. I was on the subway and I committed a mortal sin - I ate a cracker. A woman glared at me and said "did you know you could get arrested for that?" GRANTED, I've learned that you DON'T EAT on the subway. If wasn't with coworkers who I was trying to keep my pg from, I would have asked her if it was better had I just barfed right there.

12/12/06, 12:46 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Next time, just sit on the damn purse...

12/12/06, 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is heinous. I would've sat on the purse too.

Because everybody drives in LA, you'll at least get to sit down (while sitting on the freeway in traffic) while giving obscene finger gestures to the rest of the drivers.

It's a regular past time amongst us Angelinos - welcome to the party!

12/12/06, 1:03 PM  
Blogger j.sterling said...

i hate that shit! so f'n rude.. pick up your fucking purse and put it on your lap bitch.
i'm going to walk around with you from now on just spewing obscenities from my pretty little mouth

12/12/06, 1:40 PM  
Blogger J said...

When my mom was pregnant, an old woman had to hit a man with a cane to make him give up his seat so my mom could sit. She was 8 months along, too. And this was in 1963, so we can't even say it's a sign of the times.

12/12/06, 1:53 PM  
Blogger Vikki said...

When I was 9 months pregnant, I was taking the train to and from work. One person in all that time offered me a seat. One. It was a woman, an African immigrant.

12/12/06, 2:04 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Oh no, people aren't any nicer here. But if you start talking to yourself and move your hands and arms around a lot, people will move very quickly to not have to be the one to sit next to you. Or so I've heard....

12/12/06, 2:57 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

No, no, no...you did it all wrong. Instead of unbuttoning your coat to show your pg belly, you were supposed to flash that pg cleavage to some of the guys. Just don't start working the pole, or else you can kiss your chances of a seat good-bye (damn idiot males will watch any kind of sleaze nowadays).

Or, if you're not into that whole hoochie-mama scene, you can always walk up to someone and fart on them. Chances are, you'll have yourself a seat (with plenty of room). ;)

12/12/06, 3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you...I can't stand it when people who are parking their purses in vacant seats don't move their asses when elderly people and/or pregnant women get on the bus. YOU GO, girl.

12/12/06, 3:14 PM  
Blogger Homevalley said...

Hi Liz! First-time commenter - I had to say something as I laughed out loud at the description of the subway rider with the exceptionally large penis. I know and loathe that guy. He is everywhere on the N Train as well. Love your blog!

12/12/06, 3:16 PM  
Blogger Suzy said...

I left NY years ago for my career. However, a contributing factor was the rudeness. I was once standing on a very crowded 86 crosstown bus when someone started shoving and pushing me and finally said, "Move your purse, asshole." I turned around to see it was a little old lady. That same day I got home to my doorman less security building and watched as the old lady on the 3rd floor slammed the security door on me and then closed the elevator door and wouldn't wait for me.

I was so furious I ran up to the 3rd floor and even though I missed her going into her apt I screamed you're an ugly fat ass bitch as loud as I could.

Trust me, it's better out here. Although a lot of New Yorkers (like me) have moved here cocking up the mix!!

12/12/06, 3:26 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Gotta love the NYC! Well, look at the bright side, at least you didn't get groped.

12/12/06, 3:27 PM  
Blogger nonlineargirl said...

I'm all for using the belly to best advantage. Quicker seating in restaurants, getting cars to stop when you want to cross the street, and DEFINITELY a seat on public transit. Good for you.

12/12/06, 3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh man, Liz. Seeing that crap on the subway makes my blood boil. What can I say? Chivalry is dead.

12/12/06, 4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last time I was pregnant, I used to love getting on the subway with my husband. There we were: Visibly Pregnant Me and Limping With Cane And Plastic Molded Body Cast Him, and STILL no one would offer us seats.

It's nice to know nothing's changed.

12/12/06, 4:34 PM  
Blogger L said...

I stand corrected. Today on my way home, I actually witnessed a pregnant woman getting a seat on the tube. I think I might be regaining my faith in this city.

12/12/06, 5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a jungle out there and if you can use the belly, you have to do it.
So far, it's not working for me, I think I need to try harder.

12/12/06, 5:30 PM  
Blogger Perstephone said...

Work that belly, girl!

12/12/06, 6:12 PM  
Blogger metro mama said...

I tell people to move their bags when I'm not pregnant! I hate that.

12/12/06, 6:34 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

hey, let's not be too quick to judge here. maybe her bag was pregnant too. and those suits? maybe they're part of the "pregnant people" who needed bras when that googler found you.

all i'm saying is that maybe we should consider the pregnant fashion accessories and businessmen, too, right?

12/12/06, 6:53 PM  
Blogger Occidental Girl said...

GOOD FOR YOU for speaking up for yourself! I love the line about her purse not being as happy in her lap as in its own seat.

What is up with people?

When I commuted I used to squeeze myself to take up as little space as possible, until I realized that no one else did - especially men. I began to relax and just sit comfortably and it was a great feeling to let all that anxiety go!

12/12/06, 8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having done the same through a total of 81 weeks of pregnancy, I literally feel your pain.

I once announced that I was going to throw up if someone did not give me a seat. It worked.

And that beyotch who ignored you? Oh my. God help her if my preggo self ever stepped onto her subway car.

I was a bit of a bitch when I was pregnant, come to think of it.

12/12/06, 9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me, pregnant women are the ultimate people-to-whom-seats-are-owed, right in line with frail old women. I can't understand why people don't get off their asses.


I was on crutches on a bus once and got up to let a pregnant woman sit down because NO ONE ELSE WOULD. She didn't want to take it, but I assured her I would be fine -- loudly enough that all the teenage boys and thirtysomething male commuters could hear, along with the able-bodied women my age (I'm egalitarian.)

She was very, very sweet and quiet, and settled in her seat. But at the next stop, when I lurched to get my crutches in line to catch me from hitting the floor of the bus, she said at the top of her lungs, "Some motherfuckin' asshole is GOING to give up his seat NOW."

And lo, it was the seat right next to her. We had the nicest chat.

12/12/06, 9:10 PM  
Blogger Namito said...

Oh wow. I wonder if she would have hit you if you'd picked up the damn bag and dropped it on the floor.

meg...your story gave me warm fuzzies.

12/12/06, 9:20 PM  
Blogger Girl con Queso said...

Urgh! I hate that character! The chick with the giant bag in the subway, at the bar, in the coffee shop.

About a month ago, a friend of mine asked a woman in a crowded coffeeshop if she could use the chair the woman's purse was sitting on. The woman said no. My tiny friend then picked up the purse, hit her with it, and then took the chair. True freaking story. (It sounds more violent than it was.) But it was honestly so unexpected and hilarious, I basically wet myself. Also true story.

So. Next time maybe you should carry a large bag and start hitting people with it. It's surprisingly effective.

12/12/06, 11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you, sister. I love it when the ladies have to remind the peeps of the manners...

Makes me proud to be a girl.

12/13/06, 12:07 AM  
Blogger Lady M said...

It takes a true New Yorker to survive there!

I always wanted to get to park in a "stork" spot, reserved for preggers ladies. A friend of mine worked in health care, and her office actually had Stork Parking right near the door. I never found anywhere I needed to go with special parking, not once. I even circled a mall once, looking for the pink marked spaces that they trumpeted on their website but no, not once.

It doesn't compare to the subway stories, but in suburbia, that's what I get.

12/13/06, 12:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's fucking awful but I've seen it myself. I lived in NYC for many years and rode the #6 every day. May I invite you to Sweden at some point in your life? We are perhaps not known for being the most polite people in the world but pregnant women and children rule.

People bounce out of their seats on the bus or subway for a pregnant woman. Last weekend I took our infant in the Björn, my three year old son, our MB double, and rode around town on the subway (son loves trains). As soon as I entered the train there were five people asking if I needed to sit. And I'm not even pregnant, I just had a couple of young kids with me.

If you don't offer your seat to the elderly, pregnant women, or people with kids, you're an idiot and your parents did a very poor raising you. Fucking people.

Sorry about the rant.


12/13/06, 6:34 AM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

I'm so glad you stood up for yourself! A seat for a pocketbook? Ridiculous!

Personally, I found that people were MUCH nicer to me when I was pregnant vs. after the baby was out. When I was pregnant, people held doors, offered to help me with groceries, let me cut the bathroom line. Once I had a baby though, all that seemed to change.

Sweden does sound lovely though.

12/13/06, 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you!

I'd have just sat on her purse.

12/13/06, 11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. And I thought we were callous in LA. I can't believe she made such a big deal out of moving her purse! Go team you getting her to move it!

12/13/06, 11:42 AM  
Blogger Jess Riley said...

Wow. You know, sometimes I envy my more cosmopolitan friends on the coasts, but it's a post like this that makes living in Wisconsin (the state that set the bar for "average") seem not so bad after all.

Sorry you've got to deal with these insensitive a-holes!

12/13/06, 12:11 PM  
Blogger Jess Riley said...

Wow. You know, sometimes I envy my more cosmopolitan friends on the coasts, but it's a post like this that makes living in Wisconsin (the state that set the bar for "average") seem not so bad after all.

Sorry you've got to deal with these insensitive a-holes!

12/13/06, 12:12 PM  
Blogger the mystic said...

Commuting in general doesn't seem to breed good manners... But the pregnant woman should ALWAYS sit, no matter how shameless she must be to do it.

12/13/06, 2:21 PM  
Blogger fin said...

It's so sad that nobody else stood up (literally) for you.

12/13/06, 2:33 PM  
Blogger Sandra said...

Oh that makes me mad.

I had the same thing happen to me more than once on our transit system .. and Canadians are supposed to be SO polite. Nope. I'd thrust my belly out for effect and ask for a seat and peopel would actually say ... no, sorry I am tired.


12/13/06, 3:11 PM  
Blogger B said...

You pull that pregnancy card anytime you need to honey!

12/13/06, 5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unbelieveable. Around here people are way too up in my uterus though. So, maybe the midwest is where it's at?

12/13/06, 6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot even imagine it!!!

12/13/06, 6:49 PM  
Blogger Kyla said...

Good for you. Bad for the stupid people on the subway.

12/13/06, 9:06 PM  
Blogger carrie said...

Jeeez, what was that lady thinking??? I completely agree with utilizing your bump to gain priviledges anywhere you can. Go for it!!


12/13/06, 10:16 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

When I was, like, 14 months pregnant and the size of a minivan, I took the subway and found myself standing sqaurely in front of two healthy young twenty-somethings, comfortably seated. I stink-eyed them for an age, while they chatted ignorantly about their fucking dance class. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the female of the duo whispered loudly into her friend's ear 'OMIGOD I THINK THAT LADY'S PREGNANT.'

They attempt to scope my condition surreptitiously. Sort of like standing in front of Everest and trying to figure out whether it is, in fact, a mountain, but whatever.


"Yes," I said sweetly, "You are. But as I've been standing for ten minutes already, I can wait the extra one minute for my stop. Thank you."

And one minute later, I swanned off (fine. hippoed off), giving the stink-eye to everyone and wishing them all death.

One more day in paradise.

12/13/06, 10:18 PM  
Blogger Waya said...

What's wrong with people nowaday?!! I mean the least they can do is to be merry and charitable around this time of years.

I can't believe pple just walked past you after you fell. Unfreakinbelievable!!

12/14/06, 9:33 AM  
Blogger Karyn said...


12/14/06, 9:40 AM  
Blogger WM said...

surprisingly enough -- on Metro North (NYC 'burbs train for those not familiar), the MEN will get up and offer you a seat. Some old shriveled up woman got pissed at me for sitting in the middle seat of an otherwise crowded train today and proceeded to elbow me in my stomach (7 months) multiple times. Bitch. Should have sat next to a man.

12/14/06, 12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strike a point for L.A. - that would never happen here. Someone would stop and help you up for sure.

As long as you had big boobs, of course. Otherwise they would expect you to read their script.

12/14/06, 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you for letting her have it. "Accidently" stepping on a shoe might get the point across, too. I have to say that in Boston, people have been generally good to the pregnant mothers I've noticed. I've also noticed people making an effort to hold doors for mothers with strollers. What did mothers do before handicapped accomodations? If it works for a wheelchair, it's can often be used for a stroller.

And even the gruff and brusque Russians always gave up a seat for me on the Moscow Metro. I wasn't pregnant, but I had my son with me. It's apparently a big enough deal to be written in the travel books.

12/14/06, 7:09 PM  
Blogger tracey clark said...

Well, you won't get that attitude in LA on the subway because you will have to drive your own car. Consider it a trade off. But, there's still road rage so maybe, not such a good trade.

12/14/06, 8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what line you were riding, but there could not be a worse line to ride pregnant than the 6. I could not manage to get to the upper east side to my weekly shrink visit without becoming insanely pissed at many selfish assholes. But... on my way to work in Bed-Stuy on the M or the L, I would never have to wait a moment for a seat. The men would offer me water or food. Everyone had advice for my pregnancy/delivery/newborn. It takes the Latino/Polish/West Indian village to raise this baby, I guess.

With my second, if I had to go uptown, I just took cabs.

One part- possibly the only part- I enjoyed about being pregnant was being disinhibited. I wish you the same blessing.

12/14/06, 9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sad how noone cares about anyone else these days. really sad...

12/15/06, 1:57 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

I have so worked that belly myself. My best trick for forcing someone to move their purse or leg, though, has been to turn around and lower my ass slowly into the seat. Generally by the time I get there, the item has moved. Or, for two people spilling over into a seat between them, I'll sit on the edge of it and ease my way back into the seat, parting them as I go, with a beatific smile on my face.

12/15/06, 11:04 PM  
Blogger Damselfly said...

Just think Karma.

12/17/06, 5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They stepped over you? Grrrrrr.... That makes me mad.

Thank goodness for karmic retribution!

12/19/06, 9:32 PM  
Blogger Sara (Self-Made Mom) said...

I can totally relate! This happened to me when I was preggo riding the el in Chicago all the time.

12/25/06, 7:32 PM  

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