Before I start, here's the disclaimer, simply because these days you need a disclaimer for everything.
This is not a name-and-shame post; I'm simply sharing my observation and thoughts about people's behaviour.
So this happened this morning on my commute to work.
I usually board the train in town areas after the hubs drops me off, and I'd take the train down to my work place.
When I boarded the train this morning, I habitually walked to the nearest reserved seat area and these two people were already seated there.
The man threw me a side glance and continued looking at his phone. The woman, whose sunglasses were half perched on her nose, looked at me and then gave the man beside her a side glance.
The man continued looking at his phone like there was something serious and important happening in/to it.
The woman pushed her sunglasses up her nose, lowered her head and FELL ASLEEP.
Never mind the fact that the train was underground, in the tunnel, no sunlight. 😂
Now I think I have shared before, that just because I'm pregnant does not mean I am entitled to the reserved seat.
I stand close to it for 1) safety reasons, because holding on to the pole is more stable as compared to handrails and 2) hope I get lucky, if someone stands up.
Most of the time I have no trouble getting a seat within 5 minutes.
Once, there was an old lady who wanted to give up her seat for me. 😭
There are many kind people around!
So I want to be kind to these two people this morning, because who knows they might be having a tough morning and really need the seat.
Moreover the man is on the heavy side, and now that I'm a whale, I know how tough it is to be heavy.
He probably needs the seat as much as I do.
As the train moved towards the next station, the man continued looking at his phone while the lady continued sleeping.
About 5 seats away, someone stood up.
There were many people standing in between the seat and me. The train was moving. Hence I simply continued standing because I don't think I can safely navigate to that seat.
Anyway someone took the seat almost immediately.
The man in front of me turned to look at the empty and then taken seat, and continued to look at his phone.
It's funny how he notices things in his peripheral view further away but does not look at what's in front of him.
With a sigh, he stood up and went for one of the hand rails.
I always thank people when they give up the reserved (or any) seat for me, because they always signal to me that they are standing up to let me sit.
But I didn't get to thank this man, because he neither looked at me nor acknowledged me.
He just looked like he bobian (no choice but to) stand up because he's taking the reserved seat and this silly pregnant woman isn't fast or proactive enough to grab that hot seat on the other end.
The train got to the next stop.
I sat down.
And guess what?
The lady sleeping with her sunglasses woke up and ALIGHTED.
The man who reluctantly gave up his seat earlier gladly sat down beside me.
Which made me wonder.
If she was alighting at the next stop anyway, why did she have to wear her sunglasses and pretend to sleep?
Was that 2-3 minutes of sitting down so precious to her that she has to go through this whole acting gig?
To be honest I get that at least half the time.
People continue sitting until they alight at the next stop instead of standing up once they see me. Which is fine, because like I said, I'm not entitled to the seat and anyway I got to sit down after standing for just one stop.
But besides feeling tired / having leg pain / feeling sick.. Why are people reluctant to let someone have a seat for just one or two extra minutes when they know they are alighting anyway?
I would have stood up anyway, stand for a minute before alighting.
But why don't others do that?
Another disclaimer: I took a photo of these two people because I thought I could write about the things people do when they see a pregnant woman standing in front of them.
I wasn't expecting the funny/weird actions that followed and sparked this entry.
From today's incident I realised 2 things.
1. Kindness is not innate. It is a choice.
Of course, people define kindness differently.
For me, kindness means being considerate. It means you make a conscious decision that someone needs some help or generosity, and you render it to him or here once you judge that it's needed.
In this aspect, people who continue sitting down for that 2-3 minutes before they alight, and people who do not give up their seats at all, assuming both groups have seen the pregnant woman / elderly and do not have physical difficulties themselves, are the same to me.
They are equally inconsiderate.
Or to put it in a slightly nicer way, the first group of people is not kinder than the latter group, just because they eventually stood up.
2. The reason why I struggle with pregnancy emotionally is because physically it puts me in a position of vulnerability. It makes me more dependent on others for help.. and kindness.
Which I know is probably fine, but I don't like it.
In fact I hate the feeling of being needy and having to wait for help or kindness to be bestowed on me.
Sometimes I even have to ask for it.
And that makes me feel sad and angry (with myself) and down.
Pregnancy hormones get blamed for many things, and I shall add this to the list.
That's why the physical discomfort really gets to me, because damn, I need that seat, I need patience from cab drivers waiting for me to get our of the cab, I need help getting up, I have rashes over my back / shoulder / neck which I cannot reach, I need to work from home because I need to lie sideways from time to time.
The list goes on.
And then I try to keep myself in check before I turn into some bitter and miserable woman, by trying not to let it show, by being more measured in what I do or say, by trying to be kinder to others.
But it is so hard I end up feeling more miserable, especially when my being considerate and kind to others does not get acknowledged or appreciated or reciprocated.
And then it becomes a downward spiral and vicious cycle which takes time to snap out of.
No wonder they say women are complex creatures. 😂
Though looking at it simply, all we need is kindness, and that we are treated the way we deserve to be treated.
The complexity comes in when we hate having to play the "please be gentle with me" card and feel all jilted and sad when we don't feel the love.
Reminder to self, and this extends to family, friends and strangers alike.
Often what we say can only be forgiven, but not forgotten.
Over the weekend this cheeky girl taught me something.
I was trying to get her to sit down to eat her cereals yesterday morning but she was busy trying to tell me about something else.
I was feeling breathless from standing up and waiting for her, but I made a conscious effort not to sound harsh or irritated and said to her with some urgency in my tone, "Sit down sit down. Otherwise you'll dirty the floor!"
She frowned and looked at me disapprovingly:
Mummy, why you become Ah-gong?
I was stumped for a second, and then I realised why.
She's been calling Ah-gong naughty whenever he sounds impatient with her, like when he tells her to "Go go go" or waves her off "Byebye byebye".
Because I repeatedly told her to "sit down sit down" I must have sounded impatient and short-tempered to her.
And she's not pleased because I haven't finished hearing what she had to say.
So I stopped to let her tell me what she wanted to say and she willingly sat down after that.
It was a simple lesson about listening and speaking with patience and kindness.
It seems like a very minor thing, but if only adults practise the same with adults, there'd be less fights, less breakdowns, less breakups and less wars.
Yet adults either forget to be kind or find excuses for using words that are harsher or more provocative than necessary, because "I'm like this", "I can't control myself", "I'm too tired to think properly", "I'm quick tempered", "I'm your father / mother so I'm entitled to say whatever I want".
Or worse, they do it on purpose to vent their own frustrations, or to get a reaction from the other party.
So it only ends up in anger, hurt feelings, disappointment, withdrawal.
True? Most of the time.
Except if you are at the receiving end of unkindness, and you keep choosing to be kind.
And then you remain quiet while no one notices that you've made the choice to be kind.
And then you wonder, what's the point really?
And then the downward spiral of the relationship begins.
It's funny how sometimes kids teach us bigger and far more important lessons than we sometimes teach them.
So thank you, Teacher Clarissa. 😊