Laurel Niedospial was exhausted from a long day at work, running around a classroom in Chicago.
Wearily she navigated her way home, trying to protect her pregnant belly from the bustle of the busy train station.
Eventually she boarded the train, where there was a man in a business suit sitting in the designated special needs spot.
What happened next, left her angry and shaken- so she decided to write a letter to him.
"Dear Businessman in the Fancy Suit,
You have your head down and headphones stuck in your ears, but I see you. I see you eyeing my belly as I lumber onto the train. You try to determine whether or not I'm disproportionately fat or pregnant. You stare a half-second too long, notifying me of your internal debate, before you eventually decide to stay seated."
For the rest of the journey he ignores her, despite another person getting up to offer her their seat.
"You avoid my gaze for the remainder of our communal trip, your eyes planted on your nice dress shoes as they anxiously bounce up and down to the rhythm of whatever music you're listening to.
"What you don't see, and what you can never know, is how inexplicably exhausting it is being pregnant, working, and trying to navigate public transportation. Walking through the turnstile and platform has become a navigation of twists and turns, trying to avoid bumping into the bars with my protruding belly and clumsily trying not to bump into strangers."
Too make the exhaustion pregnancy even worse, she's been on her feet all day teaching class rooms full of children.
"This is, of course, after having been standing all day, practically running from desk to desk in my classroom. You could never know this, but when our eyes lock, I'm screaming internally from how swollen my feet are and how painful they feel."
The belly, for him seems to be nuisance, not a reminder that others might need a seat more than he does.
"All you seem concerned with is the belly. To you, it's a nuisance and a reminder that you might have to think of others. To me, it's an itchy and aching thing carried a growing child, who is currently pushing on a nerve in my back and causing an obscene amount of pain."
But at the end of the day, Niedospial acknowledges that his refusal to move for her is simply part of a greater disregard for people.
"In truth, it's not about you. It's about everyone who hesitates and makes a conscious choice to ignore other people. You saw me, examined my condition, and determined that you didn't care. Would you stand for a woman and a child? Would you stand for those navigating a disability? How about the elderly? I am hesitant to think you would. Maybe next time you'll prove your fellow passengers wrong.
"From, Pregnant and in Pain."
We've all been there, girl! The designated seats are there for a reason, it just takes a bit of humanity to use them.