8 September 2015

If a heavily pregnant woman boarded a train or bus that you were on and there were no seats, would you give her yours? My assumption had always been that this was a given. A basic of manners and kindness. train seat

I was astonished therefore to hear of Mhari-Claire Doolan’s story across the media today. Mhari, who is more than 34 weeks pregnant, was left to stand throughout a train journey from Birmingham to Manchester despite having a booked seat.

Ms Doolan had reserved a seat for the return leg of her business trip – not driving because of her pregnancy and subsequent back pain. However, when she boarded the train, a businessman sat in her seat. As you would expect, she showed the man her ticket and reservation at which he laughed. Leaving Ms Doolan to stand until he left the train at the end of his journey.

What is even more surprising to me is that no one else on the train offered their seat. Imagine how different the outcome of this woman’s day could have been had she have been shown a little kindness? Rather than spending that 30 mins in pain, standing on a train, her day may have been brightened by a kind stranger and she’d have returned home with her faith in human kindness intact.

Whilst I hope that this is the exception rather than the rule, I can’t help but question why none of the other passengers offered their seats or backed the woman up. Were the other passengers engrossed in smartphones? Were they intimidated by the businessman or Ms Doolan? Who knows?

I do hope though that if my wife, who has carried our three beautiful girls, were in that position that someone would show her the kindness that we’d all expect.

It is interesting to see the ensuing media debate about declining manners – I’d love to know what you think. Is this a sign of our community spirit going off the rails or would you have given up your seat?

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