Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is Muni Intolerant to Kids?

The Chronicle's Mommy Files blog had an entry today claiming that Muni is intolerant to children.

The writer cites an experience on a J Church subway-streetcar line, which mostly ferries yuppies between Noe Valley and downtown:

What is it with people on Muni? They love to growl, grumble and glare at children. I want to say: Lighten up. Crack a smile. Have a heart. But I just ignore their grumpiness and never speak up...well actually my mom did once.

When my daughter was about 3-years-old, the three of us went to the Nutcracker at Civic Center. We had a wonderful, yet long day and by the time we boarded the J Church to go home, my toddler was exhausted. I'll be the first to admit that we pushed my daughter too far. About three stops from our condo, she started to whimper and then cry.

A man sitting next to us said that the crying was annoying and advised us to get off the train.

I said I was sorry and got up to move to a different seat. My tactic is always to ignore those who complain and avoid confrontation, but my mom couldn't hold back. She was furious and told the man that he had no right to speak to us that way. And before I knew it my mom and this random guy on Muni were screaming at each other. Not exactly a comfortable situation, but I couldn't help but be proud of "grandma" for challenging a grouchy Muni rider.

I have to say, we've had very few bad experiences with Elliot on Muni. There was the time when we were chastised for breaking "federal law." But in terms of fellow passengers, there's never been a problem. In fact, most are thrilled to see Elliot.

I chalk it up to the fact that we take Muni lines where babies are uncommon. Aside from a few immigrant families, there aren't many children on the 12, 14, 19 or 47 — the lines that cut through our neighborhood. (Here's him playing with the seats at the No. 12 bus stop on a rainy day.)

If, on the other hand, you're coming to or from Noe Valley, you're going to have to deal with baby fatigue. (I've made this broader point before.) Strollers and children are rampant in that neighborhood, and your baby is much more likely to be perceived as a nuisance.

The moral? If you want people to be nice to your baby, live someplace where there aren't any babies. Your fellow riders will be temporarily stunned by seeing a tiny human — at least long enough to keep from saying something mean.