Sam appreciates the help sorting out seats on the subway!

Recently I was not sure how to think about a subway interaction. A nicely dressed business dude offered me his seat. In short order the following thoughts ran through my mind: Does he think I’m old and wobbly? Is he being chivalrous? Is this flirtation? Is it sexism?

True. I was wearing shoes with heels, a dress, and carrying two bags plus my briefcase

I took him up on the offer. I decided it didn’t matter why. It was nice of him to give me the choice.

Often I’m in his spot though, unsure whether to offer someone my seat. Now that my knee is bugging me again, I’m more likely to be the one to be wanting the seat, no matter how fit and well I look.

Among the people in need of seats are those with disabilities. But you can’t tell by looking who is disabled and who isn’t. Some forms of disability are invisible and others are episodic.

These needs can be hard to communicate and many of us like silence on subway trips. That’s why these buttons appeal to me so much.

“Please offer me a seat,’ is pretty clear and straightforward. See the story here: Toronto woman creates buttons for TTC riders with hidden disabilities

Kate Welsh, who defines herself as an activist, artist and educator, told Metro Morning this week that she designed the buttons to make taking public transit easier for people who sometimes look well but often are not.

Episodic disabilities are characterized by periods of wellness and periods of illness. Episodes can vary in length, severity and predictability. Examples include HIV, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis or fibromyalgia.

“Some days, I’m having a good day and I’m okay standing, and some days, I’m having a bad day and I’m not feeling well and I really need to sit,” Welsh said this week.

I really like the idea. I saw the buttons for sale yesterday at Glad Day books. Apparently though this campaign didn’t work so well in New York. Let’s see how it goes here.

Do you offer seats on the subway? Do you need a seat? What’s your experience been?