Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lesser-Known Subway Rules

As someone who rides the NYC subway nearly every day along with millions of other riders, I fancy myself a sort of connoisseur of the subway. I have identified the factors that should determine where and how I stand on a crowded train. I have perfected the art of pulling my card out of my wallet well in advance of bellying up to the turnstile. I am a master of slipping out of a rush-hour packed car without physically harming other human beings.

And most of the commuters I (literally) rub shoulders with on the subway have done the same. After 2.5 years of riding, I have identified four levels of subway ridership: 1) folks with years of riding experience that have etiquette and strategy down pat, 2) people in the intermediate phase who know the unspoken rules and mostly don't piss people off but who still slip up in more challenging situations (me), 3) people who don't know the rules but make a valiant effort to be considerate, and 4) jackasses.

As I strive to climb the ranks into that first category, I'm developing a mental list of subway rules you won't find on the MTA website. Here are three of them.

1. Do not use your offspring as a battering ram to get past another rider to a seat. Most people will let a kid sit down, and you do a disservice to your alleged mission, the comfort of your wee babe, by deploying him/her as a weapon. It can only be assumed that you are doing this to get not only your child, but yourself, a seat, which is very unsavory behavior.

2. When you are standing, reading the Jack Welch self-help book, using the top of another rider's seat as an elbow rest is ill-advised, as your elbow inevitably slips when the train jerks and rocks that rider in the shoulder - so, so hard.

3. Please, for the love of God turn your tunes down when you get into the train. It's not as loud in here as it is outside, and some of us don't enjoy Vampire Weekend/salsa/Natasha Bedingfield at all, let alone at full blast at 8 AM for 45 minutes straight.


Pitse1eh said...

I did a paper on the subway once -- about the rules surrounding interaction attributing it to status panic. It's fascinating to me... places where so many people are thrown in close space and how we cope.

E. said...

I would love to read it! Information is power especially when you're feeling cornered.

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