When I was a young un’ working at a major theme park in Georgia, I learned one VERY important rule: NEVER ASK A WOMAN IF SHE IS PREGNANT. NEVER. EVER. Ever, ever, ever. The fallout if you are wrong could be nuclear.
Back at the theme park I worked in the entertainment and events areas, but I remember one year where the park was open on what was traditionally a school day and since the majority of its workforce was in high school, they drafted the rest of us (the college students and full-timers) to work in the rides department to keep the park functional. I was sent through a day long rides class and taught operational safety, how to handle guest situations, etc. It was entertaining and educational and very very hilarious.
The funny thing is, after all that training, I only worked one ride, and that was all it took to make a complete fool of myself. In a 6 hour shift I managed to get gum on my pants and then rip those same pants, from the front to the back, right up the middle. Being an “indoors girl”, the sweat and heat had made me quickly droopy and limp like a banana peel. My pants stuck to me like an old snake-skin that I couldn’t shed, and when I lifted my leg to cross over a gate, I heard a RIIIIIIP! The horror and embarrassment of that incident is still with me to this day, and that was just one day over 9 years ago.
The key thing I learned from my GRAT class (General Ride Attendant Training) was that there were quite a few rides that pregnant women could not ride. If you spotted a guest whom you thought was pregnant you were obligated to walk over and quietly ask:
“Are you expecting??”
Then there were basically three outcomes you could expect from this question.
1 – The woman, being pregnant, know what the word “expecting” means, and says yes. (You REALLY hope for this answer)
2 – The woman, being pregnant, does NOT know what the word “expecting means, and is confused. (You really hope NOT to get this answer if she is in fact pregnant, because this means that her state’s education system probably failed her somewhere along the line)
3 – The woman, NOT being pregnant, does NOT know what the word “expecting” means and looks confused (again, another response you HOPE to get)
(I should note here that the BFE, after proofreading my blog, offers up option #4: that the woman, NOT being pregnant, DOES still know what the word “expecting” means, and what he refers to as “a major nuclear holocaust” erupts, and the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse appear out of nowhere, and while ululating “lilililili” like Xena the Warrior Princess, and similar to the “Avengers Assemble” battle cry, take your dumb theme park trained ass out, leaving nothing but a smudge of grease on the ground and the light smell of sulfur in the air. But I digress.)
If you get the first response, you move forward with explaining that the ride she’s in line for may not be appropriate for her safety and enjoyment. Typically New Mama understands and leaves the line and waits for her party at the exit line.
If you get the second or third response – and honestly, this is always a bit risky – when they quizzically ask “Expecting what?” You say “Expecting to have a great time, of course!” and get the eff out of there.
If you get the 4th response well… I really don’t know. Pray for rain?
To date, I have never had to use this second response. I cannot imagine how you would even begin to try to jokingly say that to a woman without feeling super stupid. All you can do is smile that crazily psychotic and phony smile that all theme park employees master within three months of employment, and just try to make it into a “aren’t you excited to be here??!?!?!?!” kinda moment. I can just visualize trying to do this:
Dorky College Peach, in a nervous voice: “Excuse me ma’am (lowers voice) …are you expecting?”
Eight Months Pregnant Park Guest from Alabama, wearing a shirt in Bama colors that says “It’s A Girl!” with an arrow pointing down to her ginormous pokey-outey belly, stares down Dorky College Peach, sizing her up: “What do you mean??? What are you trying to say??? Expecting what?”
Dorky College Peach, suddenly realizing that her $8 an hour job would not pay for the medical bills she’s about incur after getting her ass kicked by pregnant woman: “Um… nothing. Just… expect to have a great time on this ride.” (scampers towards break room to recover her dignity and rock quietly in corner in the fetal position.)
To this day, I REFUSE to ask anyone, friend co-worker, stranger, relative… I refuse to ask them if they are pregnant unless they tell me specifically. I will not congratulate them on their baby unless I or someone I know has received a baby shower invite. I don’t care if you are wearing maternity clothes with thoughtful mom-to-be prints on them, with scampering bunnies and birds all about the hem, and rubbing their bellies while talking about painting the spare bedroom for their “newest addition”. I don’t care if you walk past me, heavily pregnant and carrying a floral arrangement and Mother’s Day balloon to their desk, until you are LITERALLY GIVING BIRTH ON THE FLOOR IN FRONT OF ME I WILL NEVER ASK. Not unless you tell me first.
Two examples why:
1 – I was working as a veterinary assistant (I know, it was completely random) and one of the other assistants was pregnant. A new vet started with the clinic who confused me and pregnant girl, and asked me if I was expecting. The look of horror and upset on my face pretty much said it all. Granted, pregnant girl was only 4 months along, but I was horrified that someone would ask me that! I wasn’t even really a big girl at the time. I went to the back and cried. Then headed home and ate like, 4 donuts. The rest is history.
2 – My friends Case and JT told me this story: while meeting with a clearly pregnant client over lunch, no one would say anything. She dropped hints, made random statements, and still no one said congratulations or asked any questions. Until she said that her baby was due the following week. Meaning this chick must have been like, over 8 and a half months pregnant and had been desperately tugging at her jacket to try to pull it shut over her huge pregnancy belly. As soon as she said the baby was due, everyone at the table was like “ohhhh! Ok, we were wondering!” No one had the balls to say anything. LOL
I’ve known people who are kinda chunky, and just hold all their weight in their midsection. Still I never ask. One girl I knew would always rub her belly, and would lean back in the seat with her hands on her belly akin to your typical pregnant woman. I was scared to death to ask her, and to this day I’m glad I never did.
So the moral of the story is this: Unless you have nerves of steel or work in a theme park backed by bunnies and mice, NEVER EVER, ever ask a pregnant woman if she’s expecting, at least not until her water breaks. If you ever do decide to be brave and ask, take my advice: ask the “Are you expecting?” question, and always, always be prepared to run away.