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Please Offer Me a Seat

September 13, 2017

Last night, for the first time in the four months almost to the day that I have been wearing my Raspberry* Badge (as I call it, having finally been trained by Sooterkin™ and Brother-Wife™ that it is not cockney rhyming slang when you actually use the word which rhymes as a shorthand), someone noticed it and stood up for me so I could sit in a seat on public transport.  It wasn’t a seat specifically for disabled/elderly/people-with-children, those were occupied already, but it was a seat which I needed.

Me with blue badge TFLLovelyYoungMan (as he shall henceforth be known) moved only when a mother with a child started to wake her child up to put on her lap so I could sit, and his conscience was stirred.  LYM apologised profusely, and said he’d noticed my badge and had been staring at it but had not twigged what it actually meant.  He may have blushed.  It was quite sweet!

I don’t blame LYM for not knowing what it meant, nor do I blame the myriad others who have clearly read the badge but ignored it completely; it’s entirely possible they had simply drifted into a reverie as I often do and the words did not penetrate their consciousness.  A walking stick has better luck in gaining the possessor access to the seats specifically put aside for disabled passengers in that it is more clearly visible, but I have watched the faces of those who have read the badge, looked at me and just looked away.  Not all of them are disabled too.

There has been no publicity with regard to the new badges made available to help those of us with invisible disabilities and/or chronic pain conditions and/or mobility issues (not always the same thing).  I chat with many fellow raspberries and inform them of the badge and how to apply for it, and not a single one of them has known about it prior to meeting me.

Seats taken up by bags is a very common sight on buses, and I need two buses each way on my commute to and from work so this is a definite and ongoing problem for me.  It seems people don’t realise that disabled people can work and therefore might need the space to sit in order to actually get to work.  Ironic in a political climate which is attacking disabled people to the point that they are unable to receive sufficient benefits to survive and are therefore forced to work (even if they are unable to do so or their conditions are unable to submit themselves to the strict timetabling work generally employs) or to die.

 

Bag on seat 1

Not a bag, but an oddly shaped child called M’Tarquinias.  Or something.

Both of the women in these pictures noticed me.  Both ignored me, after the one in the left picture gave me a dirty look at the sound of the click of my mobile phone as it took the picture (I feel no guilt, she is not identifiable from this image)!  Both women were capable of having their little bags on their laps and allowing a disabled person (or elderly person, or parent with child, as these seats are for them too) to sit on that seat.  These people I feel are just rude and thoughtless.  Many schoolchildren use ‘spare’ seats as bag rests too, but are quick to move the bag when asked, even if with a heavy sigh of hard-done-by-poor-me.  Neither of these women moved their bags.

Bag on seat 2

Also not a bag, but a dog that has had extensive plastic surgery.  Probably.

I had the badge on for both occasions, and as you can see from the top picture I wear it prominently where it is obvious and easy to read.  The same has happened many more times than I can count, when I was still unable to sit in the disabled seats.  On one of the aforementioned occasions I managed to get a seat further back by hauling my pain-filled carcass up the steps to climb into them, yet many people were still standing including others who were elderly, parents or visibly disabled.

Clearly, awareness of the existence of the badge is required, as is how to apply for it**.  Moreover though, it appears an acknowledgement and understanding of the variety of disabilities and the needs of those with them is also required before people will take notice of it.  On the plus side, due to the invisibility of my mobility issues the badge does mean that if I am sat in the seats for disabled people, I am not questioned or glared at or talked at/down/to in a derogatory manner for my mere presence in the area!

So, if you see anyone wearing this badge, and you are sitting down in the disabled area, or indeed if you are sat in any other area of the bus, please do offer them your seat.  They are not wearing the badge for a joke, I promise you, and they do really need to sit down!

*Raspberry Ripple = cripple.   Only disabled/differently-abled should use this, otherwise it may be considered discriminatory and negative. Unless you are friends with raspberries and are using it in a context which all those with you understand clearly to be an affectionate term with permitted usage by said raspberry!  It’s all about the context in which the term is used.

**Apply for the badge here: https://tfl.gov.uk/campaign/please-offer-me-a-seat

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2 Comments
  1. I am sure the transit systems are a bit more crowded and relied upon there but with ADA here the buses and light rail have instructions to give up the seat if needed. I have leg or back pain on standing for too long, and while I rarely have to use the perogitive ….I just ask .

  2. Obviously having an assistive device….cane, walker, or clues like 3 kids and a ton of stuff to hold can clue some people in, being assertive has its’ momentous joys.

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