Service of Entitlement

February 20th, 2023

Categories: Behavior, Bus Trips, Children, Empathy, Entitlements, Selfish, Transportation

Have you noticed that the world seems to revolve around some, at least they think so. They are right even if wrong. I’ve observed such behavior by mothers especially of young children. They are exempt from rules or empathy.

Here’s what inspired me to write about this dynamic, one that I’ve noticed over many years: I saw a mother settle her three-year-old in the seat behind the bus driver on a local Third Avenue Manhattan bus last week. She parked her stroller in the aisle near the door [Photo above]. There was little room for oncoming passengers to slip by. I was amazed at her audacity when she did nothing to move it as the bus moved to the next stop. There was plenty of time to find my phone and snap the photo well before the fireworks.

When he realized she was obstructing the entrance, the driver told her she couldn’t stay where she was with the stroller and an argument ensued. Another passenger—her back is to the camera; you see a part of her plaid wool jacket in the photo —took her side, saying the driver was terrible and “you work for us!” [Actually, he works for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).] The driver said: “It’s not my rule, it’s the MTA’s.” Verbal attacks continued. The supporting passenger took a photo of the bus’s number–5927–as she exited.

The mother claimed that he was a bad driver as an excuse for staying up front. Hard for her to know this as he hadn’t yet moved an inch when she’d helped her child into the front seat and staked her position.

For one thing, this couldn’t have been the woman’s first time on a bus with a 36-month-old toddler. She had to know the layout.

Finally, she folded the stroller [photo right]. But she didn’t need to. None of this was necessary!

The bus has an area–the circular section with metal floor–designed for such gear. [See the photo, left.] I park my rolling shopping bag filled with groceries there and others their suitcases and large parcels. Women who entered the bus with strollers after the entitled mother got off headed to that spot. [See the photo below.]

I waited for the mother and the supporter-passenger to exit and told the driver how I interpreted the scene and explained that I didn’t enter the fray on his side for fear of starting WWIII. He agreed and said I was right to stay out of it and when I mentioned that I’d taken photos—and planned to write about the instance on my blog—he gave me his name: Jonathan Green. He was grateful for my support and thanked me many times. It happened on Thursday, February 16 around 8:45 am.

I’ve felt picked on in meetings and nobody took my side during or after. That’s why I spoke with the driver so he could forget about the incident and not let the unfairness of the verbal attack gnaw on his spirit the rest of the trip.

Adding flame to the fire with strangers in these incendiary times would have been risky for me. However, I’m sent a monthly survey by the MTA and in response to February’s I wrote about what happened last Thursday. While I doubt the MTA would connect the dots between my writeup and the woman in the plaid jacket who may have lodged a complaint about Mr. Green, you never know. Maybe we’ll balance each other out.

Do you think that there are categories of people—such as mothers or children’s caretakers—who should be given a pass to do as they please when out in public without regard for others’ safety or convenience? What about those who care for disabled people? The elderly?

15 Responses to “Service of Entitlement”

  1. Helen Said:

    First of all shame on that woman. There’s no excuse for not following the rules. It’s a safety issue. I have a disabled child….walker or mostly power wheelchair. I’ve never asked for special treatment because of that. If people offer that’s a different story. Lisa is 36 now and has managed to get around and do what she needs without asking for special treatment.

  2. Martha Takayama Said:

    Lack of consideration for others is currently an epidemic American disease! I don’t think there is any justification for this behavior of the mother in this article nor of her supporter. It also is no mean feat to drive any public transportation or even to drive in New York! I think that those taking care of elderly and handicapped should be given more understanding if they are not able to act quickly or have awkwardness or struggle to take care of their charges. However, noone should feel entitled or arrogant even if their situation is more difficult. Thoughtfulness, consideration should make everyone understand that he or she could be in such a challenging position and act accordingly.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Helen,

    Had the child been disabled, there are spaces in the bus for wheelchairs and the driver would have lowered a ramp, moved the seats to make room to lock in the wheelchair.

    Had the supporting passenger been really thoughtful she might have offered to roll the stroller to the designated space in the bus while the mother walked back with her toddler. Instead, they jumped to the default of “poor mother,” and they verbally attacked a man doing his job.

    Your daughter is remarkable.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    I agree! And not all drivers have halos. I came across a grumpy one who assumed I was being slow when his MetroCard gadget didn’t accept my card. He snapped at me to hurry up and I told him that the machine hadn’t taken in enough cash from the prior passenger and was frozen. It was up to HIM to make the thing work again. No apology and once fixed, again he told me to move along quickly. What a grouch. I didn’t appreciate his assumption that I was too S L O W for his liking.

  5. Helen Said:

    Thank you Jeanne for Lisa’s compliment. She’s really amazing. Graduated college, is a certified animal behaviorist and she and her boyfriend have: get ready! Six dogs, six cats and 11birds. Lots of rescues in the mix! Martha can tell you all about Lisa!

  6. Loretta Adams Said:

    Loretta on Facebook: The example the mother set for her child is why children become disrespectful adolescents who feel rules do not apply to them. Having had an uncle, (elderly and blind) who used public transportation the stroller in the middle of the aisle would have been an obstacle.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Loretta,

    I never thought of that, but it sounds right. How I remember my mother’s elbow in my side if an older person got on a crowded bus and I didn’t jump up fast enough to offer my seat. Today if you get in a bus filled with young school children accompanied by a parent or nanny not one child offers a seat. Most kids aren’t born with empathy; models and caring instruction are crucial.

  8. lucrezia Said:

    That dopey woman was dead wrong, and her actions confirm her as a menace to public safety. How about sending those shots to the MTA in the event this miserable creature may have taken it upon herself to report a driver acting to protect his passengers?

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    When I described the incident in the survey the MTA sent me, I said I had and offered to supply photos. There was no way to add an attachment. However, I may also mail/email the story and photos if I can confirm an address.

    The mother wouldn’t send a complaint to the MTA but her supporter, who took a photo of the bus number, might.

    What these workers have to put up with is appalling.

  10. BC Said:

    No matter where one goes, you will find thoughtless, me first people.

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:

    True, BC,

    But this “me first” person was backed by another who seemed to support the selfish act of a mother–untouchable and protected in a special category exempt from possibly doing harm. Had it been someone with an intrusive package, I doubt she’d have said a word.

  12. TC Said:

    MY, BUT BUSSES HAVE CHANGED. CAN REMEMBER BACK IN THE ‘40’S—DOUBLE DECKER 5th AVE OLD TIME STICK SHIFT BOMBERS. AND THE MADISON AVE NEW AUTO SHIFT MODELS—USUALLY JAMMED WITH PEOPLE, THROWN ABOUT BY DRIVERS WHO BRAKED ON A DIME. TYPICAL NY TAKE-OR-LEAVE-IT WAY OF LIFE.

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:

    TC,

    Bright red tourist buses are still double deckers.

    As for the brakes, people go flying with today’s air brakes. That hasn’t changed. Some drivers wait for older people to take a seat but most don’t. A few years ago I met a woman who went flying and would have crashed to the bus floor had I not steadied her. Turns out we know some of the same people [typical New York, as big as it is]. In fact, I’m going to hear a lecture with her this Friday and we’re having lunch next week!

  14. Deborah Wright Said:

    Absolutely not! No passes for rude and entitled mothers, fathers , or caregivers.

    The scene reminded me of too many extra wide strollers stories. I don’t know why one toddler needs a Cadillac.There were small umbrella strollers when my children were babies. For traveling on a bus, they neatly folded up and there were ties to keep baby securely inside once the umbrella opened. I have be been really annoyed at mothers who take these extra-wide vehicles in stores with narrow aisles. Umbrella strollers are still used, I see them.

    Another sign that gets my goat is the one on the back window of cars. It says “Baby Aboard” or “Precious Cargo.” It implies that other cars are NOT full of children, so who cares if they get rear-ended? Children are a parent’s most precious possession. I understand that. But, it doesn’t mean you ignore common manners.

    That woman was way out of line, and the woman who supported her was also. That was a wonderful thing that you did in praising the bus driver. The pictures told the tale. There seems to be this aura of entitlement just because a baby or young child is present, the rest of the world should bow down and step aside.

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Deb,

    You hit every nail on the head.

    Your discussion of different size strollers reminded me of the fad for companies to hand out giant golf umbrellas decorated with their logos. Try walking down a narrow Manhattan street wielding one of those. They become weapons and you’ll enrage any pedestrian you pass. There’s a reason they are called golf umbrellas….to be used on a green away from others. We don’t see them around here though I still have one for old time’s sake.

    Perhaps we missed a business opportunity. We could have marketed car signs that tout “Grands on board” or “Precious Aunt here” or “Boyfriend Driving Take Care.”

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