Subway etiquette

Friday, May 11, 2012

I would like to detail for you a recent experience I had on the subway, and would like to lay down (but likely not enforce) my own rules for subway riding.

This post was spurred by a terrible experience I had recently with a terribly-smelling man during rush hour. Ah, rush hour in New York City. The air is pungent with end-of-day BO and damp with years of trapped-underground air. People are hot and pushy; everyone just wants to get home right now and will show no mercy to those unfortunate enough to get in their way. I've been elbowed, bumped into, shoved and stepped on. I've dropped my ipod, phone, purse, and umbrella due to these hooligans and having to compete for a 6 inch space in the center of a crowded subway car doesn't exactly put me in the best mood at rush hour either.
 Fortunately for me, the B and D trains are not nearly as crowded at the 1,2,3,4 and 6 trains are at rush hour and I can sometimes even find a seat. A few weeks ago, I was lucky that the train was somewhat empty. I took a seat next to the door on a 3-seat bench happy to have the entire bench to myself, or so I thought. As I got out my Kindle and began to read Harry Potter (what, I'm reading them again, they're damn entertaining!), I was incredibly disappointed when a rather portly fellow took the seat next to me. Now, let me ask you a question: When you go to the movies, do you sit next to someone you don't know if the theater is rather empty? No. New Yorkers avoid eye contact, verbal communication, and certainly invading others' personal space in an uncrowded vicinity. You can imagine my shock at the complete invasion of space this stranger was putting me through. The seat to his right was open, why did he choose to sit next to me when he could have sat one more seat away? Suspicious. But it gets worse.

I've never understood why some men sit with their legs so far spread apart, especially on a crowded subway. I mean, seriously? Don't you see how rude you're being? You're so entitled that you need to take up half the space of the people to the right and left of you? I mean what is that??

...Rant aside, this guy started to creep his legs apart. Slowly, but surely, his left leg started breaking the personal bubble and heading into my "chair area." One inch...two...three...his leg kept touching mine! I decided that he was a pervert. I crossed my legs away from him and pretended to keep reading although my eyes were trained on his leg. He probably had three feet of space between his knees before I decided to move. I should have said something, and maybe next time I will. He was almost taking up half of my chair! Why is it that we (and by we I believe I mostly speak of women) are afraid to say something to those that make us uncomfortable? Because we are afraid of sounding rude? Mean? Irrational? Perhaps it's a combination of all these things. I stood up and crossed across the car to lean against the door. The man quickly adjusted his "leg position" and a few of the other riders glanced in my direction and then back at the man who had invaded my space. They knew something was up. So, with this in mind, these are some rules I would love for MTA passengers to follow:

1. As much as you can, try to respect each others' personal space. Yes, the subway is crowded, but we can all make it better by showing each other some respect.
2. On that note, try not to shove. Say "excuse me" and "sorry" rather than plowing by some old woman (or me!) and knocking her down.
3. Realize that subway rush hour is crowded and that chances are someone will accidentally bump into you. Please try not to start fights. I can't tell you how many fights I've witnessed because someone wasn't "respecting" someone else and was standing too close on a subway where people were packed in like sardines. If there are 50 people in a space meant for 25, you're gonna end up touching a stranger. Get over it.
4. For the love of god, WALK ON THE RIGHT!
5. Please don't spit in the tracks. Or on the ground in front of me.
6. Deodorant. Just buy some.
7. Take your backpack/guitar/trashbag off your back in a crowded train!
9. Smile. Try to be a little friendly to those around you. You never know what's happening with someone's life.
10. Give up your seat for an elderly person. Or a pregnant woman. Or, and this is for those guys who are feeling extra chivalrous, for any woman in general. It goes a long way in a time when chivalry is perceived as dead.

If everyone would just follow these rules, the subway world would be a better place. Sadly, in today's world of iPhones, iPads, ipods, Kindles, books, computers, and any other device which takes people away from the environment around them, I doubt anyone will really follow these rules. In any case, happy Friday everyone.


Behold the Metatron said...

Hilarious. And YES YES YES! Men and their fucking wide open legs. Close that shit! Are they kidding? Are they afraid it'll suffocate or something?

NYgirl3 said...


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