Sunday, June 17

Italian Mammas: Get the Right of Way

I used to buzz around town with my great-aunt back in the day and we'd ride the public transport of Rome.  Looking 20 years younger than she actually was, she would always complain (and this was back in the 1990s) that men never gave up their seat for her anymore.  In her eyes (and I suspect she was not mistaken), the age of chivalry was decidedly over.  I always quipped that she should count herself lucky; after all, no one thought she was in her 80s! She should see it as a blessing that she was forced to strap hang with the best of them.
But over the years, I see that it's true.  Generally, it's only other women on board who give up their posts for the elderly, and those pregnant women or women with children just have to stand through it all.
But back in the 1990s, Milano started a trend with its Pink Parking or Strisce Rosa - parking spots reserved for pregnant women. It's a great idea, but implementation (and the hobgoblin of life in Italy - enforcement) has proved about as illusive as staying on an 'abstinence only' program.  After all, the system runs on honor -- basically, the honesty of others - especially SUV drivers - who can't wait to find an oversized empty space to park their mini-cruise ships on streets originally made for mules.  
You can't get a traffic ticket for parking in the spots, and no one is truly standing there waiting to see if you have a bulge - other than your very own pot belly from all the time spent driving around in an SUV trying to find a parking spot - when you get out.  So naturally, by the time the trend arrived in Naples, people think it's akin to spitting in the wind.
In an effort to allow the mammas-to-be to go about out their business without too much hassle, some places are taking things into their own hands.  First, they post signs "Pregnant women get the right of way."  But then, they found that women who may not be pregnant were cutting the line.  So now, at the Red Cross hospital, for example, the sign reads: "ONLY VISIBLY pregnant women get the right of way." 
At the Carrefour grocery store, they are now introducing the right of way to wheelchairs and pregnant women - probably visibly pregnant - as well.  I can just hear the cashiers now: Instead of, "Are you a card member for extra points?", they now ask, "How far along are you?" quickly followed by "Are you sure you should be eating that stuff, in your condition?"
I think it's a terrific measure, but thought about applying this in the USA, where first-off, people still have kids and a lot of them and mega-stores like Target or Wal-mart are filled with obese people and the elderly spinning around in their electric golf carts.  Yielding to that army of users means, you'd never get your turn at the till..

No comments: