This post was inspired by Julie's the other day.
I often take the bus to work, and before Christmas I was struggling carrying much stuff, and couldn't drive, so I hopped on the bus round the corner from home - with a light plastic bag and a fairly heavy shoulder bag, I seem to remember. I sat about 2 rows back from the front and there were at least 2 male students sat in front of me (or forward of me).
I was merrily listening to my iPod and couldn't quite work out what was happening as a dad got on with two children, one walking, one about 9 months I reckon. The dad was talking to the bus driver who was shaking his head and shrugging and the father then walked up towards me and asked me to hold his baby.
Now, I had my headphones on and it took me about 5-10 seconds to work out what he wanted and a further short moment to realise that as this would involve raising both arms above chest height I wouldn't be able to, and if I tried I'd just drop my parcels on the floor of the bus. I couldn't think what to say so said "er, no, sorry, can you put her on the seat there?"
No, says the dad, she'll topple over, and he looked around the bus helplessly. A male student on the other side of the aisle, but sitting technically in front of me, offered to hold the baby.
I realised at this point that the dad had been asking the bus driver to hold the baby for him.
I was roundly condemned for this incident at the time so (unless I am completely losing it) I didn't blog about it. I am not sure if part of this was that people assumed I was thinking "clueless dad" or on the contrary was thinking "dad who thinks he can get away with it because he's a bloke" or that I was being unsympathetic to "dad newly on his own" as if the only reason for a dad taking the kids out on his own is because mum is away or dead.
In fact, I was thinking "er what"? followed by "am I the only person on this bus? no I am not but I am the only woman" followed by "actually, although I think it is a little, er, unusual, to ask me to hold your baby, and normally I'd expect to help with the pushchair while you hold the baby, in fact I wouldn't be able to do that".
And that would have taken so long to explain I just went back to my iPod.
But my final thought, after the bus had moved on and I had worked out that his original conversation with the driver was about getting the driver to hold the baby was not "clueless bloke doesn't know anything" or "clueless bloke thinks everyone else is around to hold his baby" or "clueless bloke thinks women are there to help him out", or even a slightly more charitable "poor bloke, shame I can't help him" but in fact "good grief, learn how to use public transport mate, passengers will help, though not if you pick the wrong one, bus drivers won't, it's obvious YOU normally drive to work!!"