A poor, red-faced woman in China is being mocked and ridiculed after what can only be described as a GENIUS idea fell through.
Or rather, it fell off.
The lady – one Ms Zhang – had been wearing a prosthetic baby bump in order to purloin seats from kind-hearted commuters on overcrowded trains. But the fastenings failed her – and her 'baby' slipped out of her shirt and hit the floor.
Oh, to have been a fly on the window!
Let's be honest here – the commute is horrible. It's horrible anywhere, I know from experience how horrible it is in London. I work from home now, and I can't say I really miss the twice daily torture of being squeezed up so intimately with a stranger that we could feasibly make a baby, in a carriage that stinks of either BO or wet dog (depending on the weather).
It's had me wondering though. How long had she been getting away with it?! Had she progressed her 'pregnancy' with different sized bellies? Or was there no need to? Apparently 2.1 billion train journeys are made annually in Beijing, compared to about one billion on London's Tube.
Now that could be key, I think. When I was commuting I used to see familiar faces all the time. Might this be why, when I was pregnant for the second time round, I seemed to be offered a seat less often? I'd had two pregnancies back to back, you see. I must have looked like I was pregnant for about two years. Suspect.
But with more than double the amount of commuters, you'd be more likely to get away with it wouldn't you? You could maybe stay seven months pregnant FOREVER, and no-one would bat an eyelid.
And did she do the noises that real pregnant ladies make? You remember: "Ugh-aaaahhhhh" when we sit down, and "Hurghhhhhh" when we have to get up again. She would have had to have done that for proper effect because it's not actually possible to sit down and get up again without making those noises.
I also wonder whether she ever felt any niggling sense of guilt. What if her fake belly was slightly bigger than the real pregnant belly of an actual pregnant woman next to her? What if only one person offered their seat? What if the lady who was seemingly less pregnant than her INSISTED she take it? Would she have taken it?!
And perhaps, most importantly of all, what might happen now that Ms Zhang has been exposed? According to Want China Times, fake bumps are already selling like hot cakes. Some women wear them in the lead up to adoption, to avoid being laid off work, while others seem to just be enjoying the perks they bring:
"Xiao Jing (pseudonym), a young woman in Chongqing, is hesitant about having a child. Under the encouragement of her husband, she has worn the belly to simulate pregnancy and has in the meantime found out that being a pregnant women in public has its perks, including being given priority when out shopping, doing things without the need to queue, or being given a seat on public transportation."
Several things could happen – young women in their droves might consider trying the same thing, albeit with heavy duty duct tape, naturally. And then the chances of women who are actually pregnant getting a seat on a train would go from one in a million to one in 20 squillion.*
And THEN inevitably, suspicions would be heightened. Perhaps no big-bellied women would be offered a seat at ALL. And then the women who were actually pregnant would have to start going to work wearing crop tops and boob tubes, so that cagey commuters could cop a good look, or perhaps even a feel, before considering giving up their prime position.
Well, Ms Zhang, we salute you as an evil genius. And you might have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those pesky straps...**
*not necessarily the actual ratio
** She actually contacted her local commercial bureau to report the poor quality of her prosthetic bump. It seems that, when they'd stopped laughing, they managed to reject her complaint, saying she had not "purchased or used commodities, or received services, as a consumer should for daily use." Ha ha!