It is what we non-pregnant ladies dread.
Being offered a seat on public transport.
To us, it simply means you are either too old or too fat. And the fact you have actually shamed someone into giving up their seat - commuters will understand the significance of this during rush hour (for those who don't, it is akin to pouring yourself a glass of wine after a stressful day at work and then handing it to someone else - you just don't do it) is mortifying.
A work colleague in her 50s came charging into the office last week, red faced and full of hate as she relayed the awful tale of being offered a seat on the bus on the way to work. Of course, we all sympathised with her as she moaned about looking old and called the man who offered the seat unspeakable and unprintable names. I mean, some really horrible shit.
But then something curious happened. For the first time ever, I was offered a seat on the tube coming home from work two days in a row this week by two different men - just in case you thought there was one overly nice chap roaming London's trains and buses on a one man crusade ensuring all women are sat on their arses come home time.
I am a size 10 ordinarily (8 if I give up breathing for the night and 12 if I don't want to talk to anyone within a 5 mile radius) so I don't think I look pregnant and at 25 I'm not going to be collecting my bus pass anytime soon, so what made a couple of fellow commuters make the ultimate sacrifice for little old me?
I had a thought. What if maybe, just maybe, there are some gentlemen roaming around our capital city after all and the art of chivalry - something I thought was well dead after having numerous doors ping back at me (literally and metaphorically) and countless male drivers helpfully giving me the finger after cutting me up on the roads - has returned.
Some women find men holding doors open or pulling out chairs at a table patronising and outdated. I don't. I think it is respectful and good manners. Although that is not to say that I expect to be patted on the head - or worse bum - and told what a good girl I am following the said 'gentlemanly' act.
But such chivalry is in danger of adding to or compounding womens' insecurities if not properly explained. So in the same way pregnant women wear the 'Baby on board' badge, I propose men who offer their seat to women for no other reason than pure chivalry should also signpost such information with a 'Gentleman on board' badge. This would make the whole situation much clearer, less confusing and more importantly reduce the amount of crying women exiting at platforms.
So happy was I with my new found information, I bounded into work to tell colleagues the good news that I had been offered a seat by a nice gentleman on the tube the previous evening. My good mood evaporated quickly. 'Oh dear' came the reply from colleagues, followed by pitying looks and the promise of an immediate cup of tea. 'Dave in accounts also asked if you were pregnant earlier this week too you know,' said one, a little too smugly.
Men - gentlemen or otherwise - just stay sitting. A seat just isn't worth the inevitable resulting self-hatred.