Categories: People, Apparel / Fashion, Celebrities, Customer Service, Pedestrians, School Administrators and Teachers, Straphangers
July 2nd, 2007
Every Thursday night I drink at the same bar. The bar plays the same songs, serves me the same cheap beer and shots, and generally raises my mood no matter how I am feeling.
But as is often the case with places that you consider your own personal haven, these wonderful times don't always last. And so my Thursday night dive bar is slowly and surely becoming more and more crowded every week with douchebags: frat boys, i-bankers, hipsters, et. al.
So this past Thursday I'm sitting at the bar waiting for some friends (who, as it turned out, never showed up. Fuckers), but I'm sitting at the bar, drinking my beer, and these frat boys surround my general location because there was space on either side of me on the bar.
I'm mildly claustrophobic, but more than that I just don't really like people that much. In particular, I don't like fucking idiots who continually slam in to me. And this frat pack was doing just that. And, more importantly, they were deliberately doing it to try to get me to move so that they could have more space.
Interestingly, I respect that. I have no problem with making someone uncomfortable to try to get more space for yourself. I mean, yes, I was there first by a lot, so it's poorly played, but still, read my Subway Etiquette Lessons and you'll see similar things to that.
Now, and here's the thing, not only were these guys twatwaffles extraordinaire, but they also came in to a bar in New York City wearing St. Louis Cardinals jersies. Thankfully, there was no particular animosity against the Cards that night because the Mets/Cards game had been rained out. There was, however, lots and lots of general animosity because I love the mother fuckin Amazin's and last fall is not far enough away to be forgotten.
So, they tried to move me, and I did not budge. And unfortunately for them, and as it turns out, for me, I was not going to move under any circumstance. So, they eventually stopped trying to pummel me and got to the drinking.
And now, finally, we get to this week's Douchebag of the Weak. There are 4 of these jackasses, and they order shots of Jim Beam. One of them, this week's distinguished recipient, pussies out on the Beam and asks for Cuervo instead. He's wearing his grey Cardinals jersey and generally sucking at life directly behind me, while one of his friends is to my left hitting on this chick and his other two friends are to my right, one behind me, and one next to me. So, they pass this fucker his Cuervo and what does he promptly do while his friends are readying their Beams? He spills most of it on my back.
And, that, in and of itself, is not so bad. What was bad was that he then made no attempt or effort to apologize. Not even a pretense of being sorry about it. His friend to my left also took my Beam shot that I had been waiting on, and his friend to my right, seeing an extra shot of the ones he bought offers me my own Beam shot as an apology. And that's fucked.
And I said to him, "I don't need another shot, I'm already wearing one. Thanks though."
And he says back to me, "You don't have to be a dick about it, man." As if it was possible for me to be a dick about getting a shot of tequila spilled on MY FUCKING BACK.
Oh, but the dude to my left did then buy my next $2 beer on him and apologized for his friends. Also, he wasn't wearing a St. Louis jersey. So he was ok.
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June 26th, 2007
Two weeks ago, I talked about standing in the aisle area. Last week, I talked about the area around the doors. Today I will continue my series of posts on rush hour etiquette by discussing seats, and in particular, the rules relating to interactions between people who are seated and people who are standing. I will have another shorter post about the rules between people seated next to eachother.
The most coveted spots on the subway are the door spots (where you get to lean against the doors; preferably the off-door, meaning the door that does not open to the platform) and, of course, the holy grail of rush hour: seats.
Let's stop right here so I can say what pisses me off the most on the subway. More than any other single thing.
[Tip #1: If you are lucky enough to get a seat during rush hour, do not try to look put out or inconvenienced if the people standing around you are closer to you than you would like.]
Ok, got that out of the way. Now, on to seat etiquette in general. The rules regarding seats are much more straightforward than the rules regarding standing/moving about the car. The rules can be broken in to 2 categories: subway cars in which there are individual seats for people to sit (like the 1, 3, and 7 trains, the A train, etc) and subway cars in which there is bench seating (new 2 trains, new 5 trains, new 6 trains).
Rules are very easy for the cars with individual seats. [Tip #2: During rush hour, take up one seat.]
Rules for the cars with bench seating are much more complex... [Tip #3: During rush hour, take up the equivalent of one seat.]
See? What'd I tell you? Much more complex.
Right now, I hope you're saying to yourself "I get that he's joking" or "That doesn't seem much more complex, what gives?"
It is in no way more complex. It is unbelievably easy. Unfortunately, it is completely unheeded, intentionally.
I get on the 6 train every day to go home from work. [Side note: I hate the fucking 6 train passionately.] The newer cars, with the bench seats, have their seating arrayed in such a way that there are either 3 or 4 seats, then a vertical bar for the people standing in the middle of the aisle area, and then either 4 or 3 seats. Always 7 seats total. The problems on these cars, and I see it every single day, arises on the side with 4 seats. What happens is one person will set against the side railing. One person will sit by the vertical bar in the aisle. And one person will seat between them and put their legs as wide as possible so as to deter anyone else from trying to sit next to them.
On the old trains, that person would be sitting on the divider between two seats, and wouldn't be there for long, because that's not very comfortable. But on the new trains, these savages run rampant taking up one and a half to two seats. Don't fucking do that during rush hour when there are 50 people standing cramped around you and you're taking two seats. Don't be that person. Because that person is a fucking douchebag. And taking up multiple seats while there are tons of tired people standing around you is fucked. There is no extra rule here, though. It's simple. Always take up one seat. You might add a corollary that during rush hour, not only should you not take more than one seat, but you should not make the seats around you unwelcoming to others. But that is not a rule. It is not required.
Here's something that is required. At least for a segment of the population. [Tip #4: If a very clearly pregnant woman gets on to your subway car, and you are male and between the ages of 11 and 60, you get the fuck up and offer her your seat. If you are female between those same ages, and not pregnant, you are encouraged to, but are not required to, give up your seat.] Essentially, and this goes beyond pregnant women, [Tip #5: If you are not particularly tired, and you see someone who clearly needs to be sitting down, give up your seat. This is never required, but it is a nice thing to do and the right thing to do.] Examples for Tip #5 might include an elderly man or woman who is having difficulty keeping his or her balance while standing; a young child; a person who is carrying an inordinately large number of bags and appears to be struggling. Any of these people would love to have a seat, so if you really don't need it, offer it up.
[Tip #6: DO NOT PUT YOUR BAG OR BAGS ON THE SEAT(S) NEXT TO YOU.] There are more rules related to bags that I will get in to next week.
I'm standing on the train, surrounded by tired-looking people, and a businessman, maybe in his 50's, has his 10" wide briefcase sitting next to him, against the side railing by the doors. Then he has his legs pushed out towards the middle vertical bar. The end result is that this man and his huge, box-like briefcase are taking up 2 seats. I'm standing in front of this man, completely astounded. Everyone else on the car looks miserable standing. Finally, I pipe up "Excuse me sir, maybe if you moved your bag and slid over, other people might be able to sit down?" He responded, "Oh, oh, I'm terribly sorry, of course, absolutely." He picked up his briefcase, put it on his lap, and moved over. I offered the seat to several of the women around me who all declined, and eventually took it for myself.
The man, fortunately, was not a total douchebag. There are people on the subway who know when they are violating the rules and feel bad about it. And there are people on the subway who don't give a shit about the rules so long as they are comfortable. This guy was the former. He knew that he had violated a rule, and as soon as he was called out on it, he was genuinely apologetic. He was not put out by having to move his bag or himself and seemed more embarrassed at having been caught than anything else. Unfortunately, that's not always the case.
[Tip #7: Never hesitate to ask someone to move over if you want to sit down.]
Once again, your 7 subway etiquette tips are:
- [Tip #1: If you are lucky enough to get a seat during rush hour, do not try to look put out or inconvenienced if the people standing around you are closer to you than you would like.]
- [Tip #2: During rush hour, on trains with individual seats, take up ONLY one seat.]
- [Tip #3: During rush hour, on trains with bench seats, take up the equivalent of ONLY one seat.]
- [Tip #4: If a very clearly pregnant woman gets on to your subway car, and you are male and between the ages of 11 and 60, you get the fuck up and offer her your seat. If you are female between those same ages, and not pregnant, you are encouraged to, but not required to, give up your seat.]
- [Tip #5: If you are not particularly tired, and you see someone who clearly needs to be sitting down, give up your seat. This is never required, but it is a nice thing to do and the right thing to do.]
- [Tip #6: DO NOT PUT YOUR BAG OR BAGS ON THE SEAT(S) NEXT TO YOU.]
- [Tip #7: Never hesitate to ask someone to move over if you want to sit down.]
There are more tips to come. Sitting next to someone who's leaning on you a bit too much? Standing behind someone with a backpack? There are rules for everything and they will come in due time. Stay tuned for more tips next week and each week until I run out of shit to say or start recycling ideas. Oh, and move the fuck over so I can sit down, asswad.
June 19th, 2007
Last week's Subway Etiquette Lesson discussed etiquette for deep inside a crowded rush-hour subway car. This week's will discuss the area around the doors, and flow through the doors from inside-to-outside and vice versa.
So, let's start outside and work our way in. You're standing on one of the platforms that has grey tiles with a yellow area that says "Stand Clear" (like Grand Central on the 4/5/6). The yellow area approximates where the door will be when the train pulls in. You have 2 options here. Stand directly in the middle of the yellow area, or stand right on the border. [Tip #1: Obviously, stand on the border of the yellow "Stand Clear" region]
You're on a platform that has no such markings. When the train pulls in, you move yourself so that you are standing directly in front of the doors, or you move to right on the side of the doors? Again, same thing, same tip as before. Stand aside. Stand clear. Don't be a fucking douchebag.
[Tip #2: (and this should be in extra large text, but I'm lazy) The MTA and I agree - Allow people to get off of the train before you get on the train.]
That means stand aside and let people off. That means that if one side of the two doors is still exiting and one side isn't, that you don't barrel in on the side that's not exiting. You wait for everyone to get off of the train. You do not form a U-shape with the other fuckers around the door so that people getting off are going to have to run over someone. [Tip #3: If the area directly next to the door is taken, you can stack 2-3 people deep at a 90º angle from the train. If you are not one of those three people, you stand between that set of doors and the next forward or backward set of doors, and do NOT block people from getting off of the train.]
Finally, you're waiting outside of the train, and everyone who is going to exit has exited. Now the people outside of the train have the opportunity to board the train. This can be a free-for-all. And that is fine. The faster people here will get on the train before the slower ones. But, and this is a big mistake that people make, the first people on to the train are not entitled to the best spot available. In theory, the people already on the train should've moved down the aisle between the seats and filled in all available spots; but that's not gonna happen. [Tip #4: As you enter on to the subway car, you need to move as far in as you possibly can, no matter what.] Tip #4 goes against most people's desires for where they will stand on the subway. But it is the only way for things to work properly.
For example, let's say there are people waiting to get on to a car which, after having emptied out of the people who are exiting, is kinda full. If the first or second or third person on to the car stops and tries to take the door spot, what happens behind them? Traffic jam. [Tip #5: If you are the inconsiderate asshole who stops and takes the door spot while there is still room in front of you and there are still people behind you, be prepared to be elbowed, punched, kicked, and shoved in the neck, back, legs, calves, and ankles.] Or just don't fucking do it. Because that's fucked.
By some luck, you are the last one on to the car, and you get the door spot. You lean against the door until the next stop where a lot of people are preparing to get on and a lot of people are preparing to get off as well. Here, etiquette allows you three initial options.
- [Tip #6: When the doors open, you can either step off of the train, straddle the gap between the platform and the doors, and then, when everyone is off of the train, move as deep in to the car as possible. This is the best option which causes the least traffic as a direct result of you.]
- When the doors open, you flatten yourself directly against the row of seats, achieving a similar result as above, but also slightly blocking the aisle between the seats from exiting quite as quickly. Again, when everyone has exited the train, you move in as deep as possible
- Or, when the doors open, you fully walk outside of the car, and find a spot amongst the waiting masses. This is a viable, but foolish, option. First, you are stuck jockeying for a spot to stand as soon as you get off of the train because you have to get the fuck out of the way of everyone else exiting. Then, you are stuck jockeying for a position to get back on the train. And finally, you will, invariably, end up with the worst spot to stand, if you even make it on to the train at all. And, yes, I have seen many a person step off the train to let others off, and then not make it back on to the train. And etiquette does not protect them. If you get off of the train to help others, you do so at your own peril.
Once again, your 6 subway etiquette tips are:
- [Tip #1: While waiting to get on the train, stand on the border of the yellow "Stand Clear" region or at the edge of the doors. Do not block the doors from the outside.]
- [Tip #2: The MTA and I agree - Allow people to get off of the train before you get on the train.]
- [Tip #3: While waiting to get on the train, if the area directly next to the door is taken, you can stack 2-3 people deep at a 90º angle from the train. If you are not one of those three people, you stand between that set of doors and the next forward or backward set of doors, and do NOT block people from getting off of the train.]
- [Tip #4: As you enter on to the subway car, you need to move as far in as you possibly can, no matter what.]
- [Tip #5: While getting on the train, if you are the inconsiderate asshole who stops and takes the door spot while there is still room in front of you and there are still people behind you, be prepared to be elbowed, punched, kicked, and shoved in the neck, back, legs, calves, and ankles.]
- [Tip #6: If you are standing against the door on the train, when the doors open, you can either step off of the train, straddle the gap between the platform and the doors, and then, when everyone is off of the train, move as deep in to the car as possible. This is the best option which causes the least traffic as a direct result of you.]
Don't believe me? I'll give you a few examples.
Through luck, I ended up with a door spot coming up to my stop. As I generally do, I turned around when the train was slowing down so that I was standing facing the doors and pretty close to them, prime position to get off of the train. The crowd outside of the train violated rule #s 1, 2, and 3. The had blocked off the entire area around the door, and some stupid kid (probably about 16 years old) decided to stand directly between the two opening doors and try to push his way on the second the the doors opened. Some people may let little fuckers like that do whatever they want, but I am not one of them. So, I did what I am entitled to do as per the rules above [for, each rule allows other straphangers to physically punish people who have fucked up]. As soon as the doors opened, the kid tried to push on to the train, and I began to push off of the train. Not only did I body check this kid in to the crowd, I also threw a small sucker punch to his stomach. Now, obviously, this kid was not pleased, but the beauty of the subway is that while he's yelling and screaming at me, and I'm walking away, listening to my ipod, and ignoring him, he only has like 20 seconds to bitch before the doors close, and on top of that, he has other people forcing him in to the car so that they can get on. Was it a dick move on my part to push this kid around? Shit no. He was prepared to push me out of his way, but I was more prepared. Lesson learned for him, I doubt, but hope.
The other day, people are trying to pack on to the car, and this fucker stops at the door while there are still a lot of people trying to get on, violating rule #s 4 and 5. Most people go around him, so by the time I get to him, there is no where to go but straight in to his back. No problem, I don't care that this guy is a giant, I will push him forward and take the only remaining spot on the subway. But then, after the doors close, he starts leaning back and trying to take what little space I have. Fortunately, when someone is pressing you against the door, making them uncomfortable is not difficult. You put your elbow against the door, your hand straight out, and fists balled. This way, you have created an immovable object, that happens to be pressing in to their back sharply. Problem generally solved, although not with this giant fuckwad. He required more constant badgering and bumping to earn my little breathing room.
Do your homework, study this shit, and make my subway rides easier. More tips next week. Oh, and I may start drawing some pictures so you know what the fuck I'm talking about.
I could devote this entire Pors to stupid shit that authority figures, particularly school administrators, try to pass off as rules and good ideas.
Today, I've read an article about a rule so stupid, I nearly punched my computer. This isn't some "no senior prank" type of rule. This is a rule that at the very heart of it, has no purpose whatsoever.
You've heard of "No contact" sports? Well, how about "No contact" schools?
This particular school has set a ban on touching of any kind. That would include high-fiving, holding hands, hugging, and hand shakes. The claim is that "gangs" were using secret handshakes with each other to signify that they were, in fact, part of the gang. And that by banning it, it will help curb gang activity. Or something stupid like that.
Are you fucking kidding me? Where do I even start? In Vienna, Virginia, (and I'm speculating wildly here) I highly doubt that there's a serious gang problem in middle schools. Am I wrong? Fine. How about... Preventing kids from shaking hands to show they are in a gang will in no way stop them from being part of a gang. They can come up with secret codes, drawing, tattoos, clothing. In fact, these administrators, by banning physical contact, have forced all of these kids to find other ways to express these minor affiliations which are most likely more permanent than a handshake. Assuming there even is a gang problem.
But, for fuck's sake, preventing a kid from hugging his girlfriend or holding her hands? What does that teach kids? Affection for those you are close to is a bad thing?
Every time I write one of these rants, you will probably see the phrase "What does that teach kids?" or some variation of it. And if you have to ask that about a policy/rule at a school, chances are, the policy/rule is fucked and shouldn't be in place. I can't imagine who would think "Let's stop the kids from physically touching each other. That is a good idea." I am even more loathe to imagine that other people were given this idea, and they all signed off on it too. "Oh, hey, Mr. Henrickson [I just made up the name] came up with this 'No touching' thing. How great an idea is that? I totally agree."
You people are doing a great disservice to yourselves, to your students, and to your profession. You are fucking idiots. You are not teaching these kids how to learn. You are not teaching these kids a love of learning. You are not teaching these kids history or science or math or English or a foreign language or life skills.
What you are teaching these kids is twofold. First, you are teaching them how to be nitpicking little shitheads. By that, I mean that you are forcing these kids to find ways around a stupid rule. If they are in a gang, they will find something other than a secret handshake is my point. Secondly, you are teaching these kids that all touching is bad. And that is fucking ludicrous.
Touching is not always bad. In fact, it is rarely bad. It is teaching kids shit like this that causes so many frivolous sexual harassment lawsuits. It is teaching shit like this that makes kids call the cops when their parents are trying to give them a bath. It is shit like this that leads to kids being separated from their parents by social services because people don't understand where to draw the line anymore. They never learned it's ok to hug their friends and family, to high-five people after something awesome happens, to grab their girlfriend's ass. They learned that touching is inherently bad. They learned that you shouldn't touch anyone. And that's wrong. And that will cause these kids to be more sensitive to being touched than they should be. And that's fucked.
June 18th, 2007
As I've previously stated here, I don't like "blogs." So, the links on the right sidebar, they're not to blogs, but to Pors (personal online ranting spaces) that I like. As you can see, they are few and far between.
easymode - Half Chicago transplanted to Bed Stuy, half San Francisco, these guys talk about anything under the sun. Great writing styles, great insights, great voices, and always a good read.
Clublife - The angriest bouncer in the history of the world got a Pors, and this is it. I'd say he hates his job, but after reading the site, you can't help but think that he gets a bit of masochistic pleasure out of subjecting himself to the scum of the earth on a daily basis. He's angry and he doesn't hold back. And because of that, he's fuckin funny.
What can I say, it's a slow news day. And I guess this post is fucked.
June 15th, 2007
I'm trying to save transit stories for the weekly Subway Etiquette Lessons, but since this all transpired on a bus, it gets its own special posting.
This week, I am giving an award, Douchebag of the Weak, to a man who rode the M96 with me yesterday for unbelievable accomplishments in progressing the art of Douchebaggery. This man was so out of line in his actions, that I did what I find to be unbearable when other do it, and actually called him out on it, in front of everyone on the bus.
Here's the play-by-play.
I got on the bus at Madison Avenue and 96th street. It was one of those hybrid buses that frequent the M96 line. So, I tiptoe my way back to right next to the divider by the back door where I find a decent spot, not TOO crowded, but certainly not empty. As the bus gets to 5th avenue, a slew of people get on. A young blond woman, probably around 20, comes to a stop 2 standing people in front of me, and the bus is starting to really fill up. A few people later and the bus is relatively full, and that's when Senor Douchebag starts his light-footed dance towards the back of the bus. And by "light-footed dance" I mean "bull rush." The guy starts saying excuse me to a man who is to the left of the girl. Together (the guy and blond girl) were more-or-less blocking the entire aisle. But, that shouldn't have mattered, because there was nowhere to stand behind them. Nonetheless, Douchey McGhee says excuse me to this guy several times. The young blond woman, unfortunately for her, has her back to all of this and is facing the window, fairly oblivious to what's going on behind her.
Finally, the Douche decides that he has said "excuse me" just about enough, and pushes his way past this guy. And in the process slams his shoulder in to the blond woman, sending her flying almost in to the window, and certainly on top of the person seated next to where she was standing. Douchey then parks himself right in the middle of 4 people who were standing fairly close together, forcing all of them to lean out over people who are seated. On my side of the aisle were two younger guys who were completely appalled about what had just happened. As was I.
And the guy just parks himself there and stands there. And, though I was loathe to do so, no one was going to say anything to this douchebag, and so I was forced to. I took off my headphones, tapped this fucker on the shoulder, and said "Excuse me, are you going to apologize to the girl you just knocked over?"
The guy looked shocked that I was talking to him, and said, "Excuse me? What was that?"
I repeated, "Are you going to apologize to the blond girl over there who you just knocked over?"
And he gets indignant. Now, in similar situations, one might also get indignant, because it is never nice to be told how you're supposed to act by an impartial observer. But, in this case, the guy was so clearly in the wrong, that the indignant act did nothing to curb my verbal assault. He says back to me "Oh, I didn't see her. I'm disabled and that guy wasn't moving out of the way."
Another young woman, who had been chatting with her friend who was standing above and slightly behind her while she was in the seat across the aisle from me, pipes up and says "Oh, would you like my seat?"
Douchey replies "No, no, that's ok."
And I say, "So, you're not going to apologize for knocking her over?"
And he says, "Well, I didn't see her and I was just trying to get by. I don't know what you want from me." Then he mutters "I'm sorry"...TO ME. And that's fucked.
And now, I am stuck with the eternal debate. On the one hand, I want this fuckface to apologize to this girl he knocked over. On the other hand, I do not want to talk to or look at him anymore, because he's a fucking asshole. I decide that though I don't think he has sufficiently made amends, I would rather not deal with him anymore, and I put my headphones back in.
He gets off at the next stop off the back of the bus at Central Park West, and makes a big show of trying to look disabled while getting off the bus. In reality, it just looked like he was trying to fake an injury to cover for his being a douchebag, because he looked like he was walking more-or-less normally. The young blond woman got off the front of the bus, and at no point made any attempt to thank me for intervening. Which is kinda dick, but whatever, I don't fault you for not wanting to deal with it.
Now, maybe it doesn't seem that bad, what happened. And if that's the case, I haven't accurately captured just how hard this douche slammed his shoulder in to the girl. To give you some idea, the 2 guys in front of me, and the 2 girls chatting, one seated, one standing, across the aisle from me all said "That guy was an ass. You were totally right to say something."
And if you can get 4 new yorkers to agree, then that's fucked.
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