He remembered quietly leaving his seat, pretending the next stop was his. He remembered wanting to be subtle. Not wanting it to seem to the young mother as if he was offering his seat her. He didn’t want the attention. Especially since the young mother’s husband -or boyfriend- called out all men on the train for not giving his wife and daughter their seat. Didn’t want it to seem he gave up the seat on account of the guy.
He left the conference room.
He wanted to speak freely.
Nosey coworkers lurking.
“Is it a man’s responsibility?” He asked Marcey over the phone.
“How old’s the child?” Marcey asked.
“About five,” He replied.
“Hmmmm… I’d give them the seat,” Marcey declared.
He clasped his eyes.
“Hold on a sec,” He lowered his phone and walked further up the hall.
He was hungry and felt a headache forming.
He hadn’t gotten a break since he sat down to log into his desktop. It was the day of the Christmas party. He wondered how the hell he got caught up in coordinating the event. Especially before he drank his morning coffee. Sure, it was nice to be away from his work, even though he knew dam well it was all piling up as he decorated the cheese and cracker tray. But being away from his desk didn’t mean he was away from hard labor. All so his coworkers could show up, eat, and leave him and a few others to clean up the mess.
He was just cranky. And tired from the six miles he ran that morning. From the Wing Chun class the night prior. And he was even crankier and more tired on the train. He needed the seat, but he gave it up to the woman and child anyway.
“I don’t know that I would,” He told Marcey. “Is that bad? I guess if the kid can’t stand on their own. What do you think?”
“What do you think?” Marcey asked.
“I don’t know,” He replied. “The woman’s guy declared men should stand for mothers.”
“Okay,” Marcey said.
“Makes sense right?” He said “Women have the children. Its the least a man can do.”
“I guess.” Marcey sounded uncertain. “Eat anything?”
“I’ll eat something at the party,” He replied.
“Okay dear… Talk later?” Marcey said .
“Sure, talk later,” He ended the call.
He wondered… Does or should a real man give up his seat for a woman with a child? A woman with child? An older woman. He would. He should. As long as he could. But is that something he should do as a man? Or is it a societal construct weaved into basic human decency. Or was he thinking too much?
He rejoined his coworkers in the conference room.
More work to be done. An hour until party time. He decided he’d have to ponder the idea of what it meant to be a man later. After coffee. Whence cleaned up after his adult coworkers.