So, what does the sight of my pregnant belly do on the bus, while waiting in line, etc? Here are ust some observations of the last few weeks:
First of all, if I want to be treated differently, I really need to make sure my belly gets noticed. A few weeks ago I was taking the bus to work and it was overly full. I was wearing my winter coat and had a big bag over my shoulder, so if you didn't know, you couldn't really see I was pregnant. I had to stand, no-one offered me a seat, I thought I was fine, until I almost fainted just before I reached my stop (would have for real if the stop was 1 minute further away).
So after that I made sure that I had my coat open when boarding the bus. Not that it helps much though, most people are too preoccupied with themselves to (want to) notice that a pregnant women is standing next to them and they maybe could offer me their seat (and some antisocial adolescents also board the bus in front of me, even though the door opened just before my nose). I don't know if this is the case everywhere, or that French people are just especially rude in this regard. But from now on I avoid overly crowded buses or subways. I just wait for the next one.
Last week I had to go to the social security office that deals with child support (everyone in France has a right to it) because I know finally have my own social security number since I've been working and needed to make sure that they would get all the necessary corrections into my file. I had heard horrible stories about 2-3 hour waits, so I checked with a colleague what would be the best time to go there. She advised me to go around 11 am, as that is the time most women have to leave to pick up their children from school. So I did. And when I entered the building, my heart almost stopped. I think there were at least 80 people in line. I was warm. I saw myself fainting already, so took off my coat and tried to stay very zen. Then a security guard noticed me, summoned me over, asked if I was pregnant (duh!) and told me to wait at the front of the line! Hurray!! Couldn't believe it (and felt slightly guilty)!
So it was immediately my turn... to get a ticket and move on to the next waiting area and wait for my number to be called. But at least there were chairs there, and only 20 people in front of me. In the end, I'd been there for only 40 minutes, which is great, but I still hope that from now on I can deal with this agency by mail, internet or phone, and I do not have to go there again (especially not when I'm no longer pregnant).