As a relative newcomer to the city, I have some thoughts and feelings on how we should all best conduct ourselves to get through our day in this small, overcrowded city without snapping.
Observance will make your life – and mine – easier.
Ok, ok, it’s a beautiful city. Calm down.
– Headphones mean ‘do not talk to me’. Quite simply, never talk to me or anyone you don’t already know. Probably best to not even talk to people you do know.
– We don’t particularly appreciate it but you can ask for directions as long as you’re really, really quick. Just blurt it out. Don’t be polite. Don’t offer small talk. Snap your destination at me (or the entire carriage on the subway) and I will snap back the right direction. Social interaction over. Avert your gaze.
– Dogs in bags are stupid (except on the Subway as that’s the only legal way to get a dog on the system). Dogs in baby strollers are ridiculous. Dogs in specially designed dog-strollers are beyond the pale and you need to take a good, hard look at your life choices in a broken mirror.
– If you stop abruptly in the street, you will be thrown under a passing bus.
– Walking more than two abreast on the sidewalk. Hey, this is not Sex and the City and you are not Carrie or Samantha. Make some room or get shoved into the road.
– Steep fines and public humiliation for using a toilet stall without locking the door. It’s already embarrassing enough to accidentally make eye contact in the inexplicable foot wide gap between the door and jamb. Sort that out, America.
USA! USA! USA!
– Please note if you’re looking up while outside, you’re clearly a tourist and your camera will be stolen.
– Don’t you dare sit in a cafe or eatery at lunch time taking up a whole table by yourself with your bloody laptop, nursing single cup of black coffee. You can write that screenplay at home. Move!
– Overheard in NY: I don’t watch HBO. It might be art but we pollute it unnecessarily with too much sex and swearing. Guess what, Millennial Man? You sound like a pretentious twat and you don’t get to have an opinion on anything ever again. Furthermore, no one agrees with you and I bet no one likes you, not even the people you are with. PSA: Everyone loves HBO precisely because of the sex and swearing.
– Don’t take forever to pay in a shop or you risk the wrath of the impatient line of shoppers behind you. Be ready at the checkout or just leave empty handed.
– If you don’t have your Starbucks order ready by the time you reach the counter, any violence committed against you by waiting customers is legal and indeed encouraged.
– If you finish the milk in Starbucks and don’t ask the staff to refill it, you are a very bad person. May a sweaty busker rub up against you on a hot day.
A clean and brightly lit subway station
– The MTA: a common source of animosity and loathing among commuters. It gives us something to moan about and we all know these days it’s not a case of if your train is delayed but by how much.
– Indecipherable MTA conductor announcements: either so quiet as to be inaudible or so fast and garbled it’s literally just a series of consonants spat aggressively into a century old PA system. Listen, I know you’re doing that on purpose. This is not that I can’t speak Subway, this is because it’s not a routine announcement and you know we’re going to be pissed off about the problem so you speak Klingon and hope for the best. Not cool, man. Just tell us where we are going.
– No busking on the trains or you get thrown on the 3rd rail.
– If you hog a space right at the doors on a packed subway, impeding the ingress and egress of harassed commuters, we will throw you on to the 3rd rail. Selfish idiot.
– Yes, the 3rd rail will bring you instant death if you touch it but rats can walk on it. No-one knows why. Get over it.
– No one knows what the 3rd rail actually is.
– Eating smelly food on the subway: Don’t. Just don’t, you selfish, anti-social git. It’s revolting, ignorant and a dick move. Go hungry or eat before you get on board. Goes for buses too. In Atlanta they’d arrest your ass and everyone would cheer.
‘Please swipe again’
– Sick passengers on the Underground are abandoned to their fate. No diverting of trains and no delays. Sorry, but I don’t make the rules. Just roll yourself off the train quietly please because I’m already late and I can’t afford to lose more time.
– Reading a broadsheet on a busy train. Alright, Einstein, we get it, you’re the smartest person on the F train. Now put your massive paper away and stop flapping newsprint in my personal space.
– Don’t take up more than one seat on the subway. Your bag does not need its own seat. Your left leg does not need its own seat. Your bag will be given to a busker and your leg pressed uncomfortably against my leg. Unless you like that kind of thing which makes you a weirdo.
– Public displays of affection on the subway: Get a room. Then have someone lock it from outside and throw away the key.
– If you go for a seat on a busy subway, own it. It might be a tight fit but don’t perch there like a weirdo. Assertively wedge yourself in there and triumphantly eyeball anyone you beat to it. You deserve that seat!
– Do not stand with your back against the pole in a subway carriage. You’re taking up way more space than your hand would, you selfish jerk, and every other standing commuter in arm’s distance now loathes you. I hope a small child licks the back of your knee.
– On vacation? Please don’t arrive or leave with your giant suitcases and take the sodding train. You’re on vacation, get a taxi like a normal person. Live a little! You take up too much room at rush hour, you clearly don’t know where you’re going and you look scared. You look like victims. This will not end well.
– If you run down the subway stairs and shove open the almost closed subway doors at the very last second, you deserve to get stuck between the doors. Social media will record this as a warning to others.
– Don’t hold the doors open for your friend who is running down the steps. I want to go home! There is another train in 10 minutes (depending on train traffic, sick passengers and John Wick fights to the death). She can bloody well wait.
– Delaying the doors closing for any reason: thanks idiot, you made us late. The Subway system is running at full capacity which means even a 20 second delay at a station throws the timing off all trains on that line. So when we hear ‘train traffic ahead’, it’s probably because you held the door for your friend and now we’ve got a domino effect on the tracks. Thanks for that *slow clap*.
– If you get on the empty / nearly empty carriage at rush hour, you deserve what you find.
– FAO entertainers on subways: F*ck off. This tiny area on this hot and overcrowded train is my personal space and that includes what I can hear. I want to listen to my radio / music / podcast. I don’t get much time without children screaming in my ears and I bitterly resent being held a captive audience no matter how good your hip hop pole twirling is. I will ignore you by turning my phone up to eardrum damaging levels and pretend to be engrossed in my phone. And if you kick me while flipping upside down, I will break both your legs.
– Everyone hates Gregg of ‘if you see something, say something’ fame. Just let folk live their lives, Greg McSmugerson. Keep your nose out.
If your train is approaching as you are at the top of the steps, you have to choose whether to run and risk falling or walk and risk narrowly missing the train