Category: Subway Etiquette Lesson
July 10th, 2007
I had to skip last week because I was on vacation, but I'm back with another Subway Etiquette Lesson. This week, it's time to talk about the rules (and there aren't many) between people who are seated.
These rules are similar to the rules for people who are standing, except that, obviously, you're seated.
You are sitting on the subway, following last week's rules about taking up only one seat and a person sits down next to you. For this example, you are not seated at the end of a row of seats, but rather in the middle. And we'll say you're on a bench seat, rather than the individual seats, so that it's not as clear what's your space and what isn't. So you're sitting, maybe with someone already next to you on one side, and this person sits down on your other side, and they're a bit on top of you. They are trying to subtly push you over so that they have more room. And, if there is not very much room, they are in the right. But, let's assume that there is plenty of room, and they're just an asshole.
So you've got someone sitting on top of you. What can you do? The first step in removing someone from on top of you is to move further towards them. Like when standing up and someone's leaning in to you, you lean back in to them, the same holds true for sitting. You have to lean in to them to try to express to them that they need to get the fuck off of you. [Tip #1: If someone sits down next to you and is encroaching on the little space you have, you are allowed to encroach on their space in hopes of forcing them to move over]
There is a lot more of a grey area with these rules, though. Some people seem to think that they are entitled to as much space as they can take while seated. And that is incorrect. Everyone has seen a person sitting on the subway with their legs as wide apart as possible, trying to prevent other from sitting next to them. Unfortunately, sometimes these people do not push their legs together when someone does take the space next to them.
Yesterday I got on the 6 train to go home. It was about 90º out, which means that it was probably about 150º on the subway platform. I was also carrying an extremely heavy bag with me, and so I beelined for a seat next to this two fuck faces wearing suits. A woman sat down on my other side as I sat down. These two suited douches both had their legs apart and refused to budge. I sat down, put my bag between my feet, and found, shockingly, that my foot had ended up mostly on top of the foot of the guy next to me. He pushed his foot slightly towards me, in hopes of removing my foot from him. And, that is a fair thing to do if someone's foot is on top of yours. However, in this case, the woman sitting next to me was flush against the middle pole, and I was pressed against her. there was nowhere for me to move. Additionally, the heavy bag between my feet kept my foot from moving anywhere. He pushed against me, was unable to move, and eventually very slightly adjusted himself so that I wasn't totally on top of him. These fuckers got off the train, and two women took their places, and all four of us now had plenty of room, because the women sat with their knees together. [Tip #2: Don't take up more space than you need to be comfortable. You will make yourself and those next to you uncomfortable if you try to take more space than you need, but if you take just enough, you should have a little extra space on either side of you to make you even more comfortable]
As I've said before, the seated rules are similar to the standing rules. And the name of the game is don't inconvenience other people. Take only as much space as you need, and not more than that. You're riding the fucking subway, not sitting in a limo, so there is no reason for you to stretch out or feel entitled to extra space. Everyone pays the same fare to take the same subway cars (yes, yes, senior citizens pay half-price, and a pay-per-ride ride costs different from an unlimited-ride ride depending on how many times an unlimited card has been used and if the pay-per-ride rider got their free 6th ride per $10 or not), but the fact remains, there is no designated seating, there is no luxury section, there is no first class. No person on the subway has any right to be more comfortable than any other person on the subway. If you think that you deserve more space than anyone else, that's fucked.
I'm not going to recap these rules because there are only two of them, but seriously, it's hot out, it's hotter on the platforms, don't be a fucking douchebag on the subway cars right now. Be happy that you're in a fairly well air-conditioned enclosed space that takes you where you're going and leave it at that.
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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.
June 12th, 2007
Alright, so, here's the deal. Every so often I'm going to give some Subway Etiquette Tips. There is no official source for these, just my own head. But let's be clear, I am correct about all of these things, so you should listen up, and listen good.
I had initially planned this series of posts (and presumably this series will never end) to start outside of the subway cars and work my way inside slowly, much like your average straphanger during rush hour. But, my ride home on the subway last night was so bad, in terms of stupid shit being done all around me, that I had to bring it up. Also, let me clarify, today's tips are based on a crowded, rush-hour train. There will be separate lessons for empty trains.
Ok, so, here's my subway ride home. I get on the train at the middle door and move myself exactly half way between the middle doors and the front-most doors. [Tip #1: Moving between to halfway between the doors, or as close to halfway as you can get if someone else has already occupied that spot is the proper way to enable as many people to get on to the train as possible. Additionally, by moving in to the middle, you avoid being crushed, which will invariably happen if you try to stay near the doors] I have now reached my spot on the train, and the first jackass on the train makes her move. She, like I did, starts to move towards the middle. But then, inexplicably, stops. She is on the other side of the train, meaning that if she had moved to the middle, we would be standing back-to-back. But she has stopped about a person and a half closer to the door than I have.
And what happens? People get stuck next to her by the door, and there begins to be a pile-up of people around the doors. Everyone over there is uncomfortable and crushed together. Not me, I'm perfectly comfortable over in the middle. So, this woman who has blocked everyone in by the door? She's a fucking douchebag.
Now, we get to the next stop, and another woman gets on the train, and she pushes past this other woman and gets in behind me, back-to-back. I hate it when people push their way through the crowd, because they are obviously going to knock a whole bunch of people around. And that's really annoying. But, ok, no problem, she is inconveniencing people temporarily to give everyone more room. That's fine.
Then the trouble starts. [Tip #2: When standing in the aisle between the seats, back to back with other people, the general rule is that you should not move back past the midway point of the car. In other words, to someone facing forward, you have the left or right side of the car, but not both.] So this woman comes in and proceeds to move herself well past the halfway point, pushing me in to the people who are sitting in front of me. But she does not temporarily crush me in to these people, but rather permanently places herself past the half way point. [Tip #3: If my elbow or back are pressed against you, it means BACK THE FUCK OFF OF ME.] So I am forced to wait 'til there is a bump or pitch during the ride between station so that I can slam myself in to her and then continue leaning against her. Unlike many a person before her, she got the message quickly and moved to her side of the car. That was nice.
But the ride was hardly a few stops in, and she got off the train, to be replaced with a new fantastic douchebag who did not one, but two obnoxious things. Three, if you're picky. He comes on and slides up next to me. Gets right next to me, and then proceeds to lift not one, but both arms up to hold on to the bar. [Tip #4: Don't use two hands on the bar if there are people next to you.] And he doesn't put his hands next to each other, but as far apart as possible. This does two things, it puts his arm diagonally up over my shoulder and in front of my face. And also brings his body in such a way that it is trying to push me past the middle of the car. [Tip #5: Don't crush the people next to you, asshole.]
Many people, at this stage, commit a foul. In my situation on that subway car, there are people who move past the middle of the car so that the jackass on his/her side is no longer on top of them. [Tip #6: Do not try to placate an idiot by letting them push you around.] So I do not move over, because doing so would've required me to knock in to a man holding a baby in his lap. And, though I may be angry, I don't try to actively harm little children. However, if there had been no baby there, I still would not have moved over. In any case, I don't move over, and instead am forced to put an elbow in to this guy's ribs. [Tip #6: If my elbow, forearm, bicep, or shoulder are pressed in to your ribs or side, it means MOVE THE FUCK OVER, DICKFACE.] This guy, however, was a slow learner, so I got the distinct pleasure of keeping my elbow in his ribs for the duration of my trip until I got off of the train.
Once again, your 6 subway etiquette tips are:
- Moving between to halfway between the doors, or as close to halfway as you can get if someone else has already occupied that spot is the proper way to enable as many people to get on to the train as possible. Additionally, by moving in to the middle, you avoid being crushed, which will invariably happen if you try to stay near the doors
- When standing in the aisle between the seats, back to back with other people, the general rule is that you should not move back past the midway point of the car. In other words, to someone facing forward, you have the left or right side of the car, but not both.
- If my elbow or back are pressed against you, it means BACK THE FUCK OFF OF ME.
- Don't use two hands on the bar if there are people next to you. [Note: In general, don't use two hands on the bar, whether or not there are people around. That also applies to holding one bar in each hand and stretching yourself across the middle of the train, you obnoxious fuck.]
- Don't crush the people next to you, asshole. [Note: Unless they deserve to be crushed and you are following another one of the rules]
- If my elbow, forearm, bicep, or shoulder are pressed in to your ribs or side, it means MOVE THE FUCK OVER, DICKFACE.
If you don't pay attention and learn how to act on the subway, that's fucked. So figure out what I'm talking about, and fix it.