It takes a village, but not my one thank you very much

Read this story about a mother trying to manage her infant twins on a train in Auckland.

The employees’ behaviour was simply unacceptable, but I’m a bit gobsmacked by all the regular commuters who clearly just won’t make the least accommodation for a woman with her infant children. I’m betting that lots of those people will come out with all the right sentiments about motherhood, but they’re damned if they’re going to be the ones who might have to make the least little extra effort.

The comments thread, so far, is very supportive. However I’m seeing it more in the light of the commenters complaining about Auckland’s trains. It would be nice if as well as doing the complaint thing, that next time they see a woman or a man who is trying to manage with young children on public transport, that they step up and help, even if only by making it clear to other commuters that they need to move and make space for parents. You would think that would be kind of obvious, when you see a woman having to sit on the floor of a train to feed her baby.

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11 responses to “It takes a village, but not my one thank you very much

  1. My blood was boiling by the end of that blog. Argh.

  2. First: I’ve got to declare an interest here. My partner works for Veolia Transport.

    I can totally sympathise with Ms. Belanger-Taylor being incandescently pissed off, but one man acting like a total arse-hat is proof of “inadequate training”?

    Well, I know for a fact that the kind of behaviour she reported is totally unacceptable and Veolia will take any complaint very seriously indeed.

    The comments thread, so far, is very supportive. However I’m seeing it more in the light of the commenters complaining about Auckland’s trains.

    Indeed — and I wonder how many of those commenters would intervene when a “passenger operator” is verbally abused or physically intimidated over matters which are totally beyond their control — like a train being crowded, or services being delayed or cancelled for safety reasons?

  3. Nasty. In my experience staff on Auckland trains are generally OK, and I’ve seen people help out with prams and kids. I guess I don’t generally ride at commuter time, when it they can get really busy.

    When was the last time anyone made a fuss about breastfeeding in NZ? I seem to recall something from a few years ago…

  4. BTW, I’m sure the second part of my last will be read as trying to defend the indefensible on the part of the PO.

    Not at all, “having a bad day” is no justification for totally inappropriate and offensive behaviour on the part of Veolia staff. Workplace related stress has to be dealt with in a professional and respectful manner.

    But it would be nice if some commuters took a reality check on the notion that respect is a two way street. The next bus driver or ticket puncher you decide to vent at is probably even more frustrated and po’d than you are — and they’re not lying awake at nights figuring out new ways to make your life hell. Really, they’re not.

  5. Makes me proud of my city, that unencumbered people consistently do yield the handicap-accessible seats to people with strollers, wheelchairs, or canes — without even waiting to be asked.

    And Craig, the trouble is that it wasn’t just one man, one time. It was two men this trip and a bunch of others on previous trips, all of whom refused to make other passengers move. If the official policy is that passenger officers must make stroller seating available to passengers with strollers, then that is a whole bunch of staff inadequately trained — either that, or the policy is just window dressing.

  6. If the official policy is that passenger officers must make stroller seating available to passengers with strollers, then that is a whole bunch of staff inadequately trained

    Or that the training is perfectly fine, but the follow up and monitoring to make sure that procedures are being followed isn’t. Which still isn’t good enough, granted, but not the same thing.

    In the end, venting on a blog is all very nice — but it’s not exactly reasonable to complain that any company doesn’t read minds.

  7. Craig, I think you can defend Veolia staff without defending their actions in this case. The dudes (both of them) were clearly out of line.

  8. I just think that when you’ve got little ones, the best way to travel is in your own car. Unless you’ve just got one and their in a front pack. Public transport really is not geared up for bulky stuff like prams or luggage or large shopping bags, or…

  9. innercitygarden

    Perhaps violet, unless you’re going somewhere that has no parking, or you don’t have a car. Plenty of people catch public transport with shopping/bikes/prams/luggage, it’s what it’s for. Personally when my son was a baby I used public transport a lot (in Melbourne) and my friend with twins did too, because she was too exhausted to safely drive.

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  11. Violet, you’re making a pretty big and privileged assumption there, that everyone can afford a car/driving lessons and tests/insurance/road tax/maintenance/petrol/everything else involved with running a car. Not to mention the assumption that everyone is non-disabled; I can think of several physical and mental illnesses and disabilities which would preclude someone from being able to drive a car.