There is one question that presents me with more problems than any other in my everyday life;
When is it appropriate for me to give up my seat to someone more in need than me?
The problem with Joint Hypermobility Syndrome, fundamentally, is that it is an invisible illness. If my joints looked as bad as they were, people would be leaping off their seats to make way for me! Sadly this isn’t the case, and I am all to aware that if I (an apparently fit 20 year old girl) remain seated when a poor, tired, pregnant lady squeezes onto the tube, I look like an ill-mannered b*tch…and feel like one too! In a situation like that I would always stand and suffer in silence, even if there were other perfectly able-bodied people sitting in other seats, probably more capable than I to stand up for the journey, because often, these people won’t give up their seats and leave the woman playing a dangerous balancing game!
I give up my seat, not only because my parents ingrained it in me from birth, but because I have also suffered at the hands of other ill-mannered individuals. On one of my many trips to A&E, I wobbled in on makeshift crutches to find a full waiting room, (not that unusual for the NHS, I assure you) as apparently some families had decided to make a day of it and brought everyone along. As I hopped in, I waited for one of these ‘spare’ family members to vacate a seat for me to sit down in, and not one person flinched. After a stony glare at two teenage boys who were clearly just there for the kicks, I announced loudly to my friend that I couldn’t possibly be expected to stand for the 4-hour waiting time. A boy, my age, stood up then, covering a bloody hand and offered me his seat. How mortifying for the British population that in the whole waiting room a prospective patient was the only one to give up his seat! Luckily him and I were on the same wavelength, as he declared that he couldn’t believe no-one else would stand up and offer to help me, still no one even looked guilty! In this situation, I was obviously in need of a seat, and had to fight to get one, and if it was reversed I would be embarrassed to think that I was one of these people just sitting and watching someone in need just struggle on.
Maybe my parents raised me more old-fashioned than I ever realised, or maybe the British public is descending into poor etiquette through repeated recession and banking scandals (no political comments please!) but I never think twice about giving up my seat, even if my joints are screaming at me to sit down/lie down/keel over. The worst offenders appear to be teenagers and commuters, I’m not sure if it’s an ignorance thing, but they aren’t giving up their seats for the Devil himself! So my question is this, do you give up your seat even if you really need it? Or do you stay seated in blissful ignorance, hoping someone else will stand up and be the hero? I know what I think the answer is, but am I missing something and going against the grain of society?!