By transportation I mean planes, trains and automobiles (this includes buses and other moving "vehicles" - as well as some notes on walking to these forms of transportation because that seems to be everyone's goddamn problem in this city)...
As an everyday rider of New York City's famous MTA I have come up with a few tips and REQUESTS for all of you public transportation riders out there and I will give you this tips as I explain to you what my morning commute is like each and every GLORIOUS day.
Here's a little background on commuting, and I'm not saying that this it true for every city with a public transportation system as "complex" and "popular" as the MTA, but I'm pretty sure this goes for most natives to these types of locations. First off, just because you are not from a particular city (i.e. New York City) or have not been here for very long, DOES NOT, and I repeat, DOES NOT give you free reign to walk around like a chicken with your head cutoff (i.e. eyes to the sky). I promise you, this will completely piss off the natives and who really wants to see an angry native (we've all seen those Cowboy and Indian showdowns). Part of your job as a visitor is to assimilate. You are supposed to be one with the culture you are visiting, learn their customs, their likes, their dislikes and let me tell you, there's nothing more that a native dislikes than a tourist throwing off the rhythm of the city. All of this being said, you should probably spend a little time figuring out how the city you are visiting runs.
For example, if you ever visit Times Square, which is pretty much where everyone who visits NYC will go at least once, do not stop in the middle of the sidewalk. Do not stop in the crosswalk, do not block a whole corner with your gaggle of guests. Step to the side folks. If you would pay attention a little bit to your surroundings (and this does not mean gawking up and the big buildings and lights) you would probably notice that the city has a heartbeat and that we are all like little blood cells swimming through its veins. When you stop, especially with your group, you are creating a clot and this backs up the whole system and can cause major complications. So think about that next time you and your clan decide it's a good idea to block the blood stream - especially within such a major artery like 42nd Street.
Ideally, and lots of people don't seem to know this, but the rule is "Stand Right, Walk Left". Now I know this doesn't necessarily work when you have two way traffic, but generally the inside lane is where the speed walkers are, and the outside is where the meandering masses frolic (you will find the occasional person who is so fed up with the blockage of foot traffic that they will choose to walk curbside in order to avoid the stop and go of people who obviously didn't learn how to walk correctly as children - I am often one of these). This "Stand Right, Walk Left" concept is incredibly important when it comes to escalators. I swear, a million bouts of frustration could be avoided if people followed this rule. This allows the lazies to linger on the right and those in a desperate rush (which we are in 85% of the time) to zoom up and down the escalator with ease. Now pay attention folks, this is really important. Just because you are with another person riding the escalator, does NOT mean you should stand side by side. For those approximately two minutes when you are on the escalator, you can stand behind your friend, lover, child...etc, but I repeat, DO NOT stand side by side. You're jamming up that vein again and one day someone's going to have a coronary because you couldn't be courteous enough to follow protocol. One last thing for the ladies, if you have a purse that will impinge on the left side walker's movement, please hold the damn thing with your right hand. I can't tell you how many purses I've had to compete with. (NOTE: this protocol should be followed with staircases and moving sidewalks as well)
Speaking of staircases, I am blessed with the amazing fortune of having to get off the 6 train during morning rush hour at 68th Street - Hunter College. Now for any of you who have gotten off of the train at this stop in the morning, you will understand how poorly organized the station is. There are four exits and generally a line to get out at each of the staircases during the morning commute. Now I understand that people need to get into the station and want to get down to the train, but have you ever seen video herds of animals crossing the Savannah during the migratory months? Well that's what the stairwells are like at Hunter College. Animals, in a hurry and a herd, slowly ascending two staircases in waves of train arrivals. During the five minutes it takes for a train to let out its passengers, those of you who are trying to get TO the train, stand aside. Don't try to push your way down the goddamn stairs when you have a hundred people trying to push their way up. I promise you, another 6 train will arrive shortly and you will have a small window of opportunity to get down the stairs and catch that train. You will not get down the stairs any faster by going against the grain, you just piss people the fuck off. Q and B train riders, same goes for your asses. When I get off the train at Church Avenue on my way home with the other hundred people getting off the train, and we're all herding up the stairs to get out of the station, don't try to come down the stairs, just don't do it...This is not a Nike commercial!
Here's another thing about those exit stairways at Hunter College. I truly believe that during rush hour the big staircases should not be considered "entrances". The staircase already creates a bottleneck that hundreds of people have to funnel down to single file, why would you try and cram yourself down those particular stairs when you can clearly see how many people are trying to get up the stairs - I just don't understand some people.
Now that we've talked about getting on and off trains, let's talk about what to do once we're on the public transportation.
Here are my tips for making your ride on the iron horse/bus more pleasant for everyone:
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. There are enough germs in the air and I swear if some of your saliva comes flying at me because you couldn't cover your mouth/nose, something might come flying at you with five fingers.
- If there are a lot of people on the train, take your bag off of your shoulder and either hold it down at your side, or if it's a larger bag - put it on the floor, placing a foot on either side of said bag for stability, space conservation and safety. Do not hit me with your bag, or anyone for that matter, because you are too lazy to remove it from your back for the duration of the commute.
- Do not hog the pole, everyone should be able to hold onto whatever pole is most comfortable for them.Why are you leaning on the pole when people clearly need to hold on to stop from being flung all over the place?
- Give up your seat for elderly, pregnant women and children. The children thing is really important, because you don't want these rugrats running all over the place wreaking havoc when their parents can contain them quite easily by restricting them to one sitting area. I will get to controlling your children later in this entry.
- If you happen to get a seat, please move as far in one direction as you can. If your body doesn't physically need two seats, don't take them!
- Don't deposit garbage on the train, they have something called trash receptacles for a reason - your TRASH goes in them, not on the floor of the train.
- If you are a train sleeper, please make sure you're not one of those people who leans on your neighbor. I've thrown a lot of elbows in my day because some people are just not meant to sleep on trains. I'm sorry if you're sleepy, learn how to control your body or don't sit next to me. Snorers - this kind of goes for you too. If you know you're a fucking rumble machine, don't sleep on my train!
- If you step on someone's foot, apologize. This can go really badly if you do not.
- Keep your music to yourself. No one wants to hear your music but you. If I can hear what you're listening to across the train, you're listening too loudly or your headphones are garbage and as I mentioned before there are TRASH RECEPTACLES for a reason. Also, you should probably get your hearing checked, because you're going to be deaf by the time you're 30 at this rate.
- If you're going to have a conversation with the person next to you, I don't need to hear it, unless you really want me to. If you really want me to, then keep talking as loud as possible and I will surely throw my two cents in.
- Don't block the doors. This means, moving as far into the train as possible when you get on. Just move in. I don't care if you're getting off at the next stop or 20 stops from now, I PROMISE you will be able to get off of the train. I have never, in my 24 years of living in this city, seen someone miss their stop getting off the train because no one would let them off. We want you off of the train as much as you want off of the train, why would we hinder you from giving us more space? I swear, my biggest train pet peeve is those completely obstinate assholes that like to play "guard the door" and don't even move when the doors open. I understand if you want to lean against the door, it's more comfortable than free floating in the middle of the train, but god-fucking-dammit, move out of the fucking way when the doors open. Let people on and off of the train, this is how public transportation works people. People need to be transported from point A to point B, and why should they have to battle your inconsiderate ass, just to get in the door for which they paid to get on.
-Thrusting yourself onto a packed train is just ridiculous - there will be another one behind it. If you are unlucky enough to ever have to take a train that gets completely packed (i.e. and of the green trains during rush hours) you should know how frequently these trains come. We've all had to let 1 or 2 trains pass before we can get on at some point in our lives, but for those of you who haven't, you're probably one of those idiots who literally flings themselves onto the train. If the door cannot close with you inside of it, wait for the next train. If you have to put your hands on strangers' shoulders and propel yourself forward into a jumping motion at the precise moment that the doors are closing, wait for the next train. If you think you're skinny enough to squeeze into a paper this space between 6 people and a large metal door, you're not, wait for the next train. It's not the end of the world people, another train will come if you let this one get out of the station.
- This one is for the men - I don't give a flying fuck how big your nuts are or how big you think your dick is, you do NOT need to sit spread eagle on the train. Your sack just doesn't need the type of space that you must thing it does. Now I'm not saying to cross your legs, and I'm not saying your knees can't be apart to allow for more comfort, but if your knees are farther apart than your hips, then we have a problem sir. Close your shit up. Just like you don't want a woman with her legs open and possibly stinky pussy all out there for the world, we don't want to have to maneuver around your goddamn ego which has obviously caused your balls to expand in some unfathomable and physically impossible way. Learn some consideration, be a gentleman.
-If you are not feeling well, get off the fucking train. If I hear one more "Due to a sick passenger..." message, I'm going to flip out. I've been sick on a train before, and I've almost had to get off myself, but goddamn it - I'll be damned if I throw off the whole rhythm of the city because I was the asshole that didn't get off the train. Who the hell do you think you are when you do that? There are VERY few circumstances where I can see something instantaneously coming over a person causing them to be so sick that they would delay the train.
The following is a special message for all of those parents out there: Control your children. Screaming and crying in public places are unacceptable. Figure out how to shut your kid up and keep them quiet for the duration of their ride. If this means that you need to have a quiet conversation with them or otherwise figure out how to keep them preoccupied, please do it. Don't ignore your crying/screaming child on the train. I don't care if you're trying to Ferberize your child and teach them self-soothing, or if you're trying not to spoil them or give in to whatever they're screaming and crying about but give the fuck in for the sake of the people around you. You can do all of the teaching of lessons on your own time, not mine. If your child is an animal and cannot be contained - consider a different form of transportation or stay home. Please and thank you.
This control is amplified even more when you're flying somewhere with your child. Now I don't know what makes you parents crazy enough to travel with obnoxious children, but let me just tell you how much this upsets the people that have the "pleasure" of traveling with you and your young one. Drug them, feed them, give them a movie to watch, but don't let your child scream bloody murder on a plane, or run up and down the aisles because you didn't get them tired enough in the airport to nap. Don't let them kick the back of my seat and please cover their little mouths before their coughs infect the recirculating air. All of these suggestions go for movie theaters as well people. As soon as your child starts making noises above a whisper or jumping around like a little hooligan, it is time to take them out. I don't care how much you paid for them to get into the movie, I don't care how badly you want to see the movie, your child should be your priority - so contain them. Also, stop taking your sleeping children to adult movies because you couldn't find a babysitter and you think they'll sleep through it. They won't. Rent it in a few months, buy a bootleg in a few days, stream it tomorrow, but do not bring your infant/toddler to a movie that is not appropriate for them. In fact, infants and toddlers shouldn't be going to the movies anyway. Take them to the fucking playground.
And for my final wrap up, as a driver of an automobile and also a frequent pedestrian - there are certain rules of engagement here too. If you are not already crossing the street when the light turns green, don't do it. I promise my car will do more damage to you than you will to it. I may end up in a very bad situation because of it, but I had the right of way (unless you're from one of those ridiculous places that the pedestrian always has the right of way). Do not think that putting your hand up in a "stop" gesture will stop me. What you should be doing is putting your hands together in the "prayer" gesture and hope to god that my car's brakes are working well and that I plan on stopping for you.
Basically, I'm asking you to be considerate when traveling with others, because one day someone's going to have a mental break over this stuff and it's going to be bad for everyone...Expect a "Due to an earlier incident..." message.