Picture this: you’re about five weeks pregnant (far too early to be showing) and commuting to work in the early afternoon. You’re also suffering from horrible, round-the-clock morning sickness.
It’s a full train, so you head toward the Priority Seats… only to see that they are filled with a couple older ladies, a few businessmen, and a teenager.
When you stop in front of one of the businessmen, he glances up and notices a small keychain on your purse. Without a word, he gets up, offers you his seat, and walks off towards another part of the station. Breathing a sigh of relief, you sit down, pull out your iPod, and start jamming out to your favorite band.
Thank Goodness for Pregnancy Badges.
That’s what the businessman saw, by the way. He saw your pregnancy badge. A pregnancy badge (or maternity badge) is a small, circular metal and foam keychain that can be attached to bags, purses, or worn around the neck. As the name suggest, the pregnant badge is for pregnant women. Each pregnancy key chain has the Japanese maternity logo on it – identical to the stickers you see on trains.
The rules of the priority seating is simple. You are supposed to give up your set to:
- The elderly
- Injured (mostly leg injuries, but when I had a broken arm people would occasionally give me their seat)
- Pregnant women
- Families with small children
- Small children
In any case, I always wondered how pregnant women were identified. Most of the time you can’t tell – and you’re never supposed to ask. By the time a woman is “close” enough to be obviously pregnant, they typically don’t ride crowded trains in the first place. I doubt the pregnant women in the first and second trimester, themselves, are asking for the seat; IF (key word, IF) I were pregnant, I would be far too embarrassed to ask.
This is where pregnancy badges (or Maternity badge) come in.
I don’t spend very much time standing in between the seats in the priority section. I remember when I saw my first maternity badge. The Japanese women, in question, was wearing a somewhat tight fitting gold shirt with a black shawl, carrying a black purse. She didn’t look pregnant, but she had the badge.
She got a seat.
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