Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Common courtesy decreasingly common

  • Print

Desirae Stewart admits she didn't conduct a scientific survey before declaring chivalry dead in Winnipeg. The 27-year-old Fort Richmond woman says she based her conclusion strictly on personal experience.

Stewart is eight months pregnant. She takes Winnipeg Transit from her home in Fort Richmond to her job at Great-West Life. Twice a day, she spends about an hour on the bus, usually standing. In the time since her expanding belly became obvious to the untrained eye, she has never been offered a seat on the bus.

"I was surprised," says the Fort Richmond mom-to-be. "I thought it would be different."

Stewart stresses she's not confusing pregnancy with infirmity. She didn't expect special consideration early on. She's a healthy young woman. But now that's she's reached the large and somewhat unwieldy stage, she thought she might catch a break on her daily commute. The ride can get rocky and her balance isn't what it used to be.

"I've taken the bus countless times over the years," she says. "I'm always giving up my seat for older people or people with lots of bags or people with small children. That's just how I was raised."

Stewart says she grew up with a dad and brothers who believed in opening doors and taking care of the heavy lifting. Her husband, Eric, has the same mindset.

Again, she doesn't think she deserved special treatment in the early stages of her pregnancy. She's just stunned no able-bodied person would offer her a seat during her hour-long ride to and from work.

I'm not sure she should be surprised. We're raising a generation that interacts with technology, not people. I'm sure half the people on her bus route have never really registered her presence.

The others? Maybe Mom and Dad forgot to tell them there are basic rules for living. You help the elderly and the sick. You watch out for the young. You understand you are not alone in this world.

If you're unclear about all this, ask a scout. Scouts Canada designated seven days this past April as Good Turn Week. They asked Canadians to join them in doing something nice for neighbours, their community, friends or family members.

"We invite Canadians to emulate scouting's virtues and make the effort to deliver a simple act of kindness," the group said in a press release.

"It's really not difficult to do, and our goal is simple: to foster a stronger sense of community and friendship in Canada through consideration for and assistance of others."

The "simple act of kindness" could be standing up and giving a very pregnant woman a seat on the bus.

Desirae Stewart says she's discussed her peeve with friends and co-workers. Some said men find themselves in a tough spot: Do you offer a woman your seat if you're afraid she might take offence?

"I understand that," Stewart says, "but I don't think anyone would be insulted by the offer. If you don't need a seat, you can just shake your head."

It is not the job of Winnipeg Transit drivers to act as the courtesy police. There are special seats at the front of every bus designated for seniors, people with mobility problems and parents with strollers. Pregnant women are not automatically entitled to one of those seats.

There is no transit policy requiring someone to yield their seat to another passenger who may have difficulty standing due to a medical condition or some other problem. That's where common courtesy comes in. Stewart says it's not that common anymore. If a rider asks the driver for help getting a seat, passengers will be requested to voluntarily give up their seats. There's no obligation.

Not every passenger who looks able-bodied is, so don't glare at the guy with a heart condition because you think he's a lump.

Desirae Stewart's baby is due June 16, so her bus-riding issue will soon end. It's the rest of us, those who live in a world that sometimes feels like survival of the fittest, who have a longer-term concern.

lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 16, 2012 A7

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Jets defencemen ready to face adversity

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 101130-Winnipeg Free Press Columns of light reach skyward to the stars above Sanford Mb Tuesday night. The effect is produced by streetlights refracting through ice crystals suspended in the air on humid winter nights. Stand Up.....
  • Aerial view of Portage and Main, The Esplanade Riel, Provencher Bridge over the Red River, The Canadian Museum for Human Rights and The Forks near the Assiniboine River, October 21st, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) CMHR

View More Gallery Photos

About Lindor Reynolds

National Newspaper Award winner Lindor Reynolds began work at the Free Press as a 17-year-old proofreader. It was a rough introduction to the news business.

Many years later, armed with a university education and a portfolio of published work, she was hired as a Free Press columnist. During her 20-plus years on the job she has written for every section in the paper, with the exception of Business. She’ll get around to them some day.

Lindor has received considerable recognition for her writing. Her awards include the Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ general interest award and the North American Travel Journalists Association top prize.
Her work on Internet luring led to an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada and her coverage of the child welfare system prompted a change to Manitoba Child and Family Services Act to make the safety of children paramount.

She has earned three citations of merit for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism and has been awarded a Distinguished Alumni commendation from the University of Winnipeg. Lindor was also named a YMCA/YWCA  Woman of Distinction.

She is married with four daughters. If her house was on fire and the kids and dog were safe, she’d grab her passport.
 
lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

Poll

Now that former cabinet minister Theresa Oswald has entered the NDP leadership race, do you believe the "gang of five" rebel ministers were right to publicly criticize Premier Greg Selinger's leadership?

View Results

Ads by Google