Why do people give up their seats to children on buses?
Now, elderly or physically-disabled people I understand – in fact this morning I hurtled up the bus to ask the bus driver to wait as an elderly lady on crutches was almost at the door but he hadn't seen her and was about to speed off.
And OK, I concede that on a very busy bus it might be nice to let a mother put her children on a seat where she can see them – but do these pint-sized people really need a seat each?
This morning however, the bus was not busy. I got on and took a folding seat downstairs as I have a suitcase with me today. Just behind me two kids and their mum got on and the only seats were at the back of the bus. One of these little people stood there are looked at me expectantly, sticking his bottom lip out thinking he was looking cute when in fact he looked like a dying guppy. But what was clear was that he thought I should move for him!
At the risk of sounding like Jeremy Clarkson, where in the name of all that is holy did he expect me to go? To the back of the bus, maiming the shins of everyone with my suitcase on my way? Perhaps there is an argument about me having my suitcase with me taking up space – but it is only a cabin-sized one, which was slotted very neatly out the way of everyone and, had someone in a wheelchair needed the space, or it had got really busy, I would have moved it and balanced it on my head if need be.
This child was about 8 years old – he should be at his most robust, agile and physically fit, so I figured surely he, his brother and his mum were capable of the few extra steps it took them to get to the back.
But no, from every direction, people scattered to accommodate the boy king and his entourage!
Even pregnant women don't get the same treatment – in fact I once gave up my seat to one particularly large gestating lady and someone else nabbed it before she had a chance to manoeuvre her bump into place! Harsh words were exchanged!
On today’s journey, two stops later more little people got on and once again they looked at everyone who was sat down as if to say, “MOVE, NOW!” The mother kept sighing and eventually some poor soul caved! Why? Why? Why? Can these children not walk upstairs? Is the cotton wool wrapped so tightly around them that standing is a physical impossibility? One stop later they got off... They could have walked it quicker!
There is one more thing that gets me, which is actually a little controversial and in the past when I've broached the subject, my more tolerant friends have tried to reason with me. It is this: on London buses, there is a sign that reads buggies may need to be folded at busy times.... Now has anyone actually ever seen this happen? OK, so modern designs are often hard to fold and the various paraphernalia that comes with children do not make this the easiest of tasks. But in busy times I have been unable to get on a bus because there are three gigantic all-terrain buggies crammed in, all empty because the children are sat in all the seats.
I was once on a bus where a lady with her massive pushchair actually begrudged making room for a person in a wheelchair!
Perhaps, when I have four children and a buggy designed for the wilds of Scotland that I insist on pushing along the smooth terrain of London’s streets, I too will expect people to give up everything for me. Perhaps I will think it wise to catch a bus 100 metres and tut at wheelchair users. But my children however, will be taught that they are perfectly capable of standing. And when we are on the bus and someone gets on wielding a suitcase, or needs a seat, I will make my children stand up.