A bus passenger with spina bifida—a neural tube birth defect in which the spine and spinal cord do not fuse properly—is struggling with guilt after forcing a pregnant woman to give up her seat.
This resulted in the woman staring daggers at the Original Poster (OP) for the rest of the awkward trip.
The OP explained that the incident happened a couple of months ago and finally came to Reddit for answers.
"I never really thought I was TA but yesterday I was talking about it with some friends and they told me that it was f'ked up, and of course reddit always has the answers so here I am."
"So I was born with spina bifida and usually use a wheelchair for movement."
Most public transportation has designated areas to accommodate disabled passengers, but those seats are not always vacant.
"I take a public bus to and from school, and for me to be properly secured in the bus the front two seats flip up and if anyone's sitting there they have to move."
"On this particular day, there was a very visibly pregnant woman who yelled that she was here first and she wouldn't be moving."
Their impasse led to the situation literally going nowhere.
"The driver eventually had to ask her to get up or get out, and she moved a few seats over."
The OP could cut the ensuing tension with a knife.
"For the rest of the way to school she continued to stare at me, at one point commenting that they make special buses for people like me (they do have an 'accessible' program that has smaller busses on request for disabled users, but I can use the normal bus just fine as the schedule and route works out great for me.)"
"Anyways, at the time I didn't really think I was TA."
"After talking with some friends they pointed out that I could've just gotten off and taken a later bus (which is true, I usually get to school half an hour early and the bus comes every 15 minutes) and that I also can stand and could have gotten into another seat (which is also true but very tiring, and I would've still had to store my wheelchair somewhere.)"
"So reddit, AITA?"
Redditors pointed out the fact that those with reduced mobility have limited options.
"NTA. Those seats are designed for people like you or those with reduced mobility such as the elderly."
"She was perfectly able to sit in another seat. Also, the bus driver told her to move, so they obviously thought that you took priority." – Ferberted
"The fact that there are laws protecting the disabled in this case and not the pregnant show where the priorities should be though." – Ferberted
There was another seat for the pregnant woman, therefore, everything should have been fine.
"In most public transit systems I've seen, being pregnant is a reason for priority seating."
"The problem in this case it sounds like OP can only be accommodated in certain seats (flip up ones)."
"The pregnant woman could sit in any seat. So it is logical to say 'OP gets the flip up seat and pregnant woman gets another accessible seat, or if none available, someone able bodied has to give up their seat for her.'"
"The pregnant woman did get a seat, so her making OP feel bad makes OP NTA (she is)."
The OP was not alone for being on the receiving end of the guilty glare.
"The buses where I live, the 'priority' seats in front are only for elderly and disabled. I'm disabled and I've gotten so many glares not getting up for pregnant women."
"Unless it's an especially difficult pregnancy, most pregnant women can still stand, whereas I can't." – lizlemon04
Not to take anything away from pregnant women.
There are risks for them if left standing while in transit.
"Pregnancy can be a temporary disability. You shouldn't have to give your seat up for someone who's pregnant as you're disabled yourself, but pregnant people still get priority over other abled-bodied people."
"Even in non-complicated pregnancies, losing your balance while standing is more dangerous for a pregnant person." – robinhood125
"More dangerous and more likely. Pregnancy plays havoc with both your joints and your center of gravity; falling is a real possibility."
"That still doesn't mean a pregnant person should get the only wheelchair-accessible spot over an actual wheelchair user, though." – StarryMotley
Pregnant mothers shared some insight.
"I am 30 weeks pregnant, super uncomfortable, and I could not agree with you more."
"Even if there WASN'T another seat available and I would have to stand on public transport (hypothetically) I would give my seat up for a disabled person in an instant."
"As a pregnant woman I do get a lot of 'preferred treatment' & much of it is ridiculous tbh. I'm still very capable I just can't lift much and it takes an act of god for me to roll over from laying down." – Equivocal_Me
"I agree that her getting a seat makes her the extra a**hole."
"But also, I've been pregnant twice, and the first was a pretty difficult pregnancy with a ton of swelling, and I still would have gladly stood in order to accommodate someone in a wheelchair, or with any other physical disability that made standing on a bus difficult."
"Yes, being pregnant can suck sometimes, and it is physically uncomfortable at the end. But let's keep it in perspective. It isn't even in the same sphere as spina bifida." – Kitten_Foster
"I mean, even if she had to stand, OP still wouldn't be TA."
"When you sit in the wheelchair seats you do so with the understanding that you have to get up if someone in a wheelchair gets on the bus. It's literally the only place a wheelchair can ride on the bus." – bowyer-betty
The OP staying put was beneficial for everyone.
"I used to ride the bus a lot, and at the time getting a wheelchair onboard involved lowering a lift, securing the wheelchair, raising the lift, and unsecuring the wheelchair."
"It didn't take a ton of time, but definitely more time and effort than someone just moving to another seat. The other riders would probably prefer OP to stay on the bus for that reason as well." – PyrocumulusLightning
People can be so cruel.
"I'm disabled and on the buses where I live, it's extremely rare for anyone to offer to give up their seats and it's f'ked up."
"Even while using crutches/cane people still didn't want to move, and I had someone yelling at me for slowing the bus down when I was in a wheelchair. They should give up their seats, but most people don't actually do it." – lizlemon04
The OP's friend did not get an easy pass.
"NTA....how would you be? There were open seats for this woman, walking 4 ft to another seat is not going to endanger he or her baby."
"If it was she should be home on bed rest. She's beyond the AH for suggesting that you need a special bus. Those seats are freaking DESIGNED to accommodate you. Your friend is also an AH for trying to guilt you with some ableist bs." – vance_mason
"NTA - Your friend seem stupid." – CriticalShaft
When it comes to public transportation, a lack of respect for your fellow passengers gets you nowhere fast.
Having courtesy, however, goes a long way.
The book What We Have Done: An Oral History of the Disability Rights Movement is available here.