This doesn’t concern world peace or anything philosophical like reincarnation but I find myself asking this question every time this dad is out in New York City with my son:
Who has the right of way: an older person or a child, in particular someone like me lugging around a 2-year-old who refuses to walk or sit in the stroller?
Lately, my son doesn’t want to walk so I end up carrying him for blocks at a time. As you can imagine, schlepping around a 35-pound child is getting my arm in shape for the Ultimate Arm-wrestling League. Anyway, when I approach an intersection and on the other side is some cute, little old lady who looks like the slightest breeze will knock her down I always think to myself, “Get out of the way, grandma. Heavy load coming through and I’m not stopping for nobody.”
The conundrum I have is this: Do I show respect for the fragile, but experienced, old lady by letting her go first, or forge ahead and blast right by? If I let her go first, it means a possible two-minute wait while holding in my arms a future linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks.
Another example of this war of transportation woes waged against parents is on New York City’s MTA buses and subway trains. All have signs asking for you to give up your seat to the elderly. I would argue my son is more deserving of that seat rather than some old person that reeks of urine. At least my son is cute and smiles at everyone while taking a poop in his diaper. Those old farts cussing under their breathe as their dentures cling on for dear life are a public nuisance by taking so long to get on the bus in the first place. C’mon, granny — get on already. I got a toddler here who is about to lose his mind because it’s way past his nap time.
I find some solace in the subway. Seriously, when was the last time you saw an old person taking the train in NYC? I’ll tell you: never. They are too busy slowing down the above-ground transit system. The subway still isn’t perfect because, well — “manspreading.”
These affronts to personal space won’t even acknowledge anyone is even interested in sitting next to them. Dude! I’m the father with the screaming toddler because he doesn’t want to wear two layers of clothes to fend off single-digit temperatures, so don’t be surprised if I give you a death stare that would scare gang members into thinking, “Whoa, that guy looks pissed.” Damn right I’m pissed! Now, let me sit down and calm down my son for crying out loud.
But nooooo! I have to stand holding a squirming bowling ball that is wailing into my ear. My only hope is that my hearing gets completely shot so I don’t have to deal with that sound anymore or the crappy music bleeding out of the man-spreader’s headphones.
I know I can’t win this war. Which is why I tend to stay within walking distance of home when out with the boy. If I do end up downtown, I have some “safe houses” to go to (thank you, Blue Bottle and Stumptown coffee). However, maybe if we parents all band together to help each other out when stressed on the bus or subway we can somehow make commuting in this rat race a little better.
Who am I kidding? I need to get the hell out of here.