Reddit: Man refuses to give up seat on busy train for pregnant woman, argues he had 'every right to stay there'

Pregnant woman traveling by bus - stock photo / Commuters holding onto pole in subway car, close-up - stock photo
Photo credit: Getty Images

There are certain moral standards in life that principled humans are expected to abide by: never wearing white to a wedding, for example, or giving up your seat on public transport for the elderly or pregnant.   

So when someone decides to rail against these standards, it can be quite shocking to behold. This was the case on Reddit recently, when an anonymous man took to the forum 'Am I the Asshole' to ask whether he was in the wrong for refusing to give a pregnant woman his seat on a packed train because, he argued, he had "every right to remain there".  

Backlash was swift, with the overwhelming majority of readers agreeing that yes, he was indeed the asshole in that situation.  

Before the post was deleted, the man - who goes by the username 'Future-Fold-6085' - explained there had been "no vacant seats left" on the train when the pregnant woman entered the compartment, "apparently looking for a seat".   

He noted that his seat was the first in her line of vision and those occupying the neighbouring seats were much older than him.  

"I wasn't sure whether I should offer mine [to her] or not," he wrote.  

While he was deciding whether to do the charitable thing, he said an elderly woman made the decision for him - instructing the woman to take his seat before he could offer it himself. Angered, the man said he snapped at the woman: "You can't just tell someone else to claim my seat. It's mine, I get to decide."  

He said that the elderly woman argued that as a young person he had the "ability to stand" while the clearly pregnant woman would struggle to stand upright for an extended period. According to his account, several other passengers also began chastising him for failing to offer his seat.  

"Everyone was eyeing me as if I had said something wrong, but I got p***ed off. I wasn't having that nonsense. I told her that I am not doing it, and she began to accuse me of not having respect for elders," the man continued.   

"I told the old woman that she has to mind her own business, to not interfere in my affairs, and that I have every right to remain there.  

"I probably [made] a bad impression on everyone, but I didn't like her attitude."

Pregnant woman traveling by bus - stock photo
Photo credit: Getty Images

But the man didn't get the support he had hoped for, with users of the online forum quick to agree that his behaviour was very much in asshole territory. However, a few noted that while he was in the wrong, the elderly woman shouldn't have assumed he was comfortable to stand as he may have had a hidden disability or condition.  

One accused the man of showing "a very prominent lack of empathy towards someone in a physically demanding state," while another agreed: "The courteous thing to do is give up your seat to the pregnant person."  

Etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, the founder of The Protocol School of Texas, told the Daily Mail that offering a pregnant person your seat is common courtesy.   

"This man should have extended a courtesy by offering the woman his seat. He made the decision to stay seated and stood his ground out of anger, which is not the best-deciding factor when determining an act of kindness to someone else," she told the outlet.  

'Common courtesy dictates that when you are able-bodied and have the opportunity to offer your seat to someone who appears to want or need extra help or attention, you do so out of goodwill."  

Gottsman noted that the man himself appears to know deep-down that his response wasn't the right one, adding: "This gentleman continues to be bothered by his own behaviour, or he would've let it go by now, rather than dwelling on what he did.   

"Whether the person was pregnant, elderly, or simply appeared to need to sit down, giving up a seat is a small sacrifice, which makes a big impact. You never know -  they may have gratefully refused the kindness, but it is a goodwill gesture nonetheless."