Thursday, January 5, 2012

NYC Subway Etiquette - Keep Yourself Alive

As the holiday season in New York City ends, you can feel the residents of this great city begin a careful, controlled sign of relief.  The winter holidays are a difficult time for us New Yorkers.  Its cold, yet we're expected to be festive.  Homeless people badger you a little more because its the "season of giving".  Everything your friends and family want can only be found at that one specific specialty shop and costs a fortune.

And more importantly, its tourist season.

Those of you who live in sunny, beach-y destinations will understand what I am talking about.  I'm sure traffic gets all gnarl-y with the influx of people and ignorance abounds.  For example, many tourists who come to New York feel it is completely acceptable to stop in the middle of the sidewalk, four people across, look up and gawk at a building.

Let me be the first to tell you, this is not cool.  Yes, you may be on vacation, but some of the thousands of people on that very same sidewalk which you are blocking are trying to get to work, to class, to an audition.  Such idiotic behavior could cost someone a flippin' job.

My biggest issue, however, occurs when tourists attempt to ride the subway.

Oh, I get it.  You want the whole experience.  You want to see how the locals live, so you get on one of the most heavily trafficked public transit systems in the world.

Just for you adventurous morons, I have put together some unspoken rules about the subway.

And away we go . . .

We will begin very simply.  Let's just enter the subway.

1.  Not everyone in your 24 person family needs a subway card.

How often are you actually going to use the subway?  Maybe twice, before you go back to taking cabs?  Putting $5 on every individual card is unnecessary.  When you are dealing with cash cards and not unlimiteds, you can use a single card more than once.  Just put $25 on a single card and stop piling up in front of the card machines so those of us with perishable groceries can get a card and get home.

2.  Move aside, people!

In America, we drive on the right.  Those of you from other countries should learn this, and those of you actually from the states need to stop being idiots.  It goes to follow, that when using stairs or escalators that you need to move to the right.  Eight of you lined up across a stairway will only earn you the everlasting hate of New Yorkers who just missed that train that would have gotten them to the office on time.

3.  Subways are not elevators.

When those doors are closing, they are closing.  Sticking one hand in between the doors is only going to hurt, slow the train and piss off the people in that car.  Putting a bag, shoe or family member in the way of the doors will probably mean you will lose that item.  Slowing the trains also fucks things up for THOUSANDS of people.  Believe it or not, the trains are actually on a schedule.  Making a train stop and wait until you figure out if you need to go uptown or downtown is not a way to win friends.

4.  Move to the center of the car.

We know you're scared and this experience is wholly new and different.  The subway car will not eat you, and very few New Yorkers bite when unprovoked.  By huddling around the doors you are getting in the way.  You are not made of air, and the rushing inhabitants of the Big Apple cannot pass through you like a ghost.  We are not below shoving and pushing, however.  And use the poles.  Each time the train starts one of you falls over, often on a poor woman who is exhausted and just wants to get home.  You have not improved her day.

5.  Don't go to 11.

The cars are not huge.  Yes, they can be a little noisy, but that does not constitute the attempt to be the loudest person on that train.  You can slightly raise your voice and speak to your neighbor.  No need to scream across the car, disturbing (in some cases) the only peace a person has had all day.  Turn the volume down.  This is helpful to you as well.  Speaking loudly and with a dramatic Southern accents makes you a target for pickpockets and muggers.  Low profile, guys.

6.  Exiting.

Follow rule #2 when leaving the station, only now we are going to add a little choreography.  Once you have reached the top of the stairs/escalators/whatever, quickly step out of the way.  Congregating in the threshold of the station means that anyone in front of you trying to get in and behind you trying to leave, can't.  Hop, skip and a jump and you are out of the way.

Huh, just noticed that most of these rules can be summed up with "Get Out Of The Way."

I guess I could have just said that.

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