It was rush hour. I was lucky enough to get in on a bus that was not that full. I was able to find a seat by the window, uttered a little thank you prayer for I would be comfortable for the next hour or two going home.
It was raining. Trickles of water crawling on the glass, dim light, window seat. It was a perfect setting to daydream. Actually, medyo nagde-daydream na nga ako nun e. Until the pregnant lady came.
Unlike me, Ms. Preggy wasn’t that lucky. The seats at that time were all occupied, so she has to stand. I heard her destination as she was paying her fare. Medyo malayo. I’m pretty sure, the four guys seating just around the area where she was standing heard it too. I’m not talking about teenager boys here, I’m talking about full grown men who’s got worked out biceps. I waited for a little bit, giving them the benefit of a doubt. Baka naman nag-lapse lang ang pagiging gentleman. 3, 2, 1. Wala talaga.
I was in awe.
I tapped Ms. Preggy’s shoulder, I said she could take my seat. She declined at first, but I insisted. She murmured her thanks and even offered to squeeze me in on a two-seater. But I said I’ll just stand. Soon enough, the bus was full of people, shoving and pushing to get a decent standing spot.
I found myself a less crowded spot at the back part of the bus. Napaisip ako. If a girl like me, with no physical issue or restriction whatsoever, finds it hard to balance myself on a moving bus, how much more this pregnant lady with a huge belly and sore feet. Nainis ako dun sa apat na lalaki. Empathy with a pregnant woman should be automatic. Paulit-ulit kong iniisip with matching rolling of eyes.
Pero may na-realize ako.
Empathy with a pregnant woman should have been automatic whether you’re a man or a woman. I should not have waited. I should not have looked around first and counted 3, 2, 1 before I gave her my seat. It should have been automatic. Mas nainis tuloy ako sa sarili ko.
I don’t like gender double standards. But with that situation, I gave men a standard different from what I set for myself or for women for that matter. I expected more from them, when I should have expected the same from me. Lesson learned.
It has always been my rule in riding the bus or train that I will give my seat to a pregnant woman, a senior citizen, a disabled and a person with a baby kung walang mabait na lalaki na magpapa-upo.
Now I’m changing my rule. I will give my seat to a pregnant woman, a senior citizen, a disabled and a person with a baby. Period. No waiting. Automatic.