When passing a local bus shelter few days ago, I thought I had momentarily taken leave of my senses when my eye caught the notice pictured above. I had to double back and take a closer look to determine whether I’d had a bizarre acid flashback*, but no. My eyes had not been playing tricks on me. And I have subsequently seen the same poster in other parts of the city.
So, unless I’m reading this completely wrong, Transport for Ireland’s new initiative is that expectant mothers are advised to wear badges informing other passengers that they are pregnant and may like to sit down. Am I alone in finding this incredibly odd, even to the point of condescending or stigmatising? ‘I see you’re pregnant, please take a bright yellow sticker to label yourself as so’.
What on earth was the thinking behind this? Have they really got that little to do in the Department of Transport that this is the nonsense they are coming up with? Did somebody there decide that people are so unobservant and/or ignorant that they no longer offer seats on public transport to those who need it more? If that’s the point, then wearing a badge isn’t going to do much good either. If somebody is unaware enough not to notice that a lady is evidently pregnant then they are not going to notice the yellow badge either.
But either way, they are looking to fix a non-existent problem in the most ham-fisted of ways. In my experience, people on public transport are very helpful and do offer seats to people who need them more, be they pregnant, elderly, on crutches or whatever. I find this bizarre and even worrying. Physically sticking labels on people is patronising at best, and even discriminatory at worst. Some of the darkest moments in human history involved sticking labels on people. Do we have to be reminded of this when we are waiting for the Luas? And are they going to stick badges on pensioners next?
As an aside, I also have to quibble with the wording of the sign. It’s not a baby, yet. It’s a foetus.
In any case, let’s hope this idiotic proposal is scrapped soon, and that the time and resources of our public services is better spent. It’s not like there aren’t actual major issues relating to the public transport system that need to be addressed.