In the corner of just about every train car in Japan you’ll find a bench of “priority seats.” While they’re shaped and sized just like any other seats on the train, the priority seats are there for passengers who have an especially strong need for a place to sit, as opposed to stand, during their journey.
Good manners dictate that priority seats should be kept clear for, or at least given up for, passengers who are elderly, physically disabled, or pregnant. Of course, sometimes entirely able-bodied individuals snag one of the seats and don’t want to vacate it, and this is what appeared to be happening on a train recently being ridden by Japanese Twitter user @otamiotanomi.
@otamiotanomi, who was standing, noticed a pregnant woman step onto the train and make her way over to the priority seats, only to find them all occupied. But rather than try to find a seat elsewhere, the pregnant woman took up a standing position in front of a younger woman who was sitting in one of the priority seats. When the younger woman didn’t make any move to give up her seat, the pregnant woman made a show of shifting her purse on her shoulder, showing off the pregnancy marker that many pregnant women in Japan carry in order to subtly state their claim for a priority seat.
▼ A pregnancy marker, declaring “There’s a baby in my tummy.”
But the younger woman continued to sit and fiddle with her smartphone. Figuring she had to make a more overt issue of her pregnancy, the pregnant woman then began rubbing her stomach in large, expansive strokes, and this finally got the young woman’s attention. Yet even this didn’t convince her to give up her seat, because instead of standing up, the younger woman instead shifted her own purse, revealing her pregnancy mark.
“I witnessed a battle,” @otamiotanomi tweeted, and while that’s a dramatic way of putting it, his story made waves throughout the Japanese Internet, earning well over 150,000 likes. It’s a good reminder that you can’t always judge with just a quick glance what sort of physical conditions a person may have. Even people who look young, fit, and non-pregnant may have injuries or ailments that make it painful or even impossible for them to stand for extended periods of time, and keeping in mind the possibility of circumstances beyond your perception is the best way to mentally deal with such situations.
Source: Twitter/@otamiotanomi via Jin
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