For anyone who, like me, finds themselves compulsively having to bob their head over the brim of a newspaper at every stop on the Underground they will attest that “seat politics” is a real and ever-present conundrum for London commuters.
On the one hand if you miss a blue badge or walking stick you risk being chastised by other travellers and pretty much feeling rubbish about yourself for the rest of the day.
On the other if you incorrectly adjudge someone to have greater seat needs than you then you have arguably caused more damage than if you hadn’t offered one at all.
It’s a daily dilemma, and one that shouldn’t be trifled with.
Over the last two weekends I’ve entertained both my parents and my in-laws at my gaff in West London.
Both were offered a seat or assistance on the tube, and both were mortified as a result.
Which is why I’m not surprised that only six in ten commuters say they would give up their seat for an expectant mother, according to a new poll.
The study of 2,000 regular users of public transport also found one in four commuters hadn’t given up their seat for a ‘pregnant’ woman in case she wasn’t actually expecting a child.
Seven per cent of women admitted to being offered a seat after being mistaken for being pregnant and a shocking fifth of expectant mothers have been too embarrassed to ask for a seat themselves.
One in five are afraid of who they might offend by offering up a seat on public transport, so they simply don’t bother.
But is ‘seat politics’ playing a hand in the conundrum, or are we simply too distracted to notice?
According to Natalie Cowley of Mama Mio, who commissioned the OnePoll survey, “people are either too engrossed in their phones to be aware of their surroundings or won’t offer their seat unless prompted” when commuting.
In her view, making eye contact or simply asking for one is the best solution.
This video demonstrates why: