A new badge has recently appeared on travellers on the Tube in London and I don’t think it has appeared in our patch yet – but you may know better.
As you can see in the picture, it’s worn to advise fellow travellers that a lady is pregnant and would be grateful for a seat on a busy train.
Part of the reason it’s been produced is to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation.
If you see a lady who looks pregnant and offer her a seat and it turns out that she isn’t, it can lead to sharp looks.
If she turned out to be simply a great fan of the pie shop, your good intentions can backfire.
More traditional gentlemen would say that it’s a pity that you need the badge anyway, as it used to be the norm that a man would always offer his seat on a train or bus to any lady, with child or not.
The trouble is that, in modern life, being polite can bring you problems as well.
I’ll never forget opening a door for a lady in an office building a while back and being snapped at for my trouble.
“I’m not helpless,” she scowled, “I can do it myself.”
Fair enough missus.
I wish I’d known then of a superb reply which a friend used in a similar situation.
He said: “I didn’t hold the door for you because I thought you were a lady, but because I know I’m a gentleman.”
It might be considered old fashioned today, but I’m a bit set in my ways of standards of courtesy, which my mum and dad taught me from a very young age.
As well as always giving up your seat to an older person or a lady, I was always taught to stand up when a lady comes into the room too.
It’s the little bits of kindness and pleasant courtesy which oil the wheels of life for me – and still most people I think.
I’ll never forget the day of my mum’s funeral in Hartlepool many years ago.
As we were driven through the town on a very sad day, I saw a man on the pavement who took off his hat and respectfully bowed his head as the hearse and the family cars passed.
We didn’t know him, and he didn’t know us, but that little moment has stuck in my head to this day.
A busy city like London can be a little light on examples like that, but, even on the busiest day, treating your fellow human with dignity does make life better.
Back to the “baby on board” sign finally and, as you will know, the original idea came from car stickers giving the same message.
The thinking was that, in the event of a bad car crash, the rescue services would know that there may be a tiny baby in there.
Always keen to take the humorous route, I saw a car on the A19 recently which carried a rear window sticker proclaiming “Mother-in-law on board – please ram.”
Not well mannered, but very funny.