I spend a considerable chunk of my time riding the rails, and recently it occurred to me that my fellow New Yorkers could use a little refresher in subway etiquette. Don't take this to heart, guys. Really, I think you're aces.  I just thought I'd offer my guidance as a public service to my people.  Sound ok?  Ok.  Let's get started.

What are the rules for giving up your seat on the train?

I'm glad you asked! According to the MTA, you should always give up your seat to the elderly, pregnant or disabled.  Now, stop pretending to fiddle around with your iPod and look around your crowded subway car.  Do you see that nine-months-pregnant lady clutching the hands of her twin toddlers?  That stooped octogenarian feebly grasping a pole?  The dude on crutches who is carrying a ficus?  Of course you do, you're just an asshole. I know, I know, you're tired, you're hungover, the train makes your tummy rumbly, you think maybe you're coming down with dengue. I don't care.  Someone is always in rougher shape than you.  Have some common fucking courtesy and offer up your seat.

I'm a pregnant, ficus-wielding, becrutched octogenarian, and I scored a seat during rush hour.  But now the guy sitting next to me is frothing at the mouth and speaking in tongues.  What should I do?

Normally I'd tell you to get up and change cars, but honey, you've got a lot of issues. My response would be to a) ignore him or b) answer him in tongues.  This is New York, and sometimes the only way to defend your territory is out-crazy the crazy.  Plus, that guy is totally sane and works on Wall St.  He's just an ingenious asshole who doesn't want to give up his seat.

I'm a subway performer.  Can I have some money?

Only if you're the rabbi/opera singer who performs haunting arias on the R train. That guy is the shit.  But he doesn't even ask for money because he traffics in a little something called integrity.  The rest of you can go screw.

But I'm a child and I break-dance!

Fine, here's a dollar. I can't say no to break-dancing children. 

Oops, I fell asleep and missed my stop.  What is the appropriate response?

One option is to roll your eyes, mutter, "Dang, am I silly," and get off and transfer at the next station.  Another alternative is to wake up and start raving at all the women in the vicinity that they're "cunts" out to sabotage you by not waking you up at your stop.  A guy did this to me recently and boy did it put me in my place.  Let this be a lesson to all lady-commuters: harness your  mystical vagina-powers to divine the destinations of all man-passengers, and make it your personal mission to get them there.  If this sounds unreasonable it's because you're a total c-word.

I'm your subway conductor and I'm mad with power.  The only way to deaden the pain of my deeply unhappy existence is to re-route trains without any kind of warning, and then mutter incoherently into the mic every couple of stations as I lead carfuls of increasingly frenzied commuters further and further from their destinations. I do it like three times a week!  Isn't that hilarious? 

You are the worst kind of person. I wish a pox upon you and all you hold dear.  Or barring that, some kind of demotion.  I think you'd get the same kind of satisfaction as the station worker who is never ever in your booth when all of the MetroCard machines are out of order.

I'm a tourist and your subway system is really confusing.  Can I ask for help?

Sure you can.  First, some general advice: if you're a tourist, do not stand in the middle of a highly trafficked stairwell staring at your map, do not hold the subway car doors ajar so your band of fifteen Swedish children can trickle in, and do not stand without holding on to a pole so that you go flying into my lap when the train comes to a sudden stop.  Once you've got those points covered, feel free to ask for directions!  It's a little-known fact that New Yorkers are among the most helpful people in the world.  Not because we're particularly nice, it's just that we love showing off how well we know our city. We take pride in our street smarts, and you can reap the benefits.  So please don't end up in East New York when you're trying to get to Rockefeller Center. Just ask.

What is the etiquette for having personal conversations on the subway?  Like, really personal?

I am a shameless eavesdropper, so I'm not at all opposed to listening to you break up with your girlfriend or describe the explicit details of your sex romps to your coworker.  But you should keep in mind that some commuters aren't gossip-mongery perverts like myself. Keep your conversations quiet and euphemistic.

I work in Manhattan's only manure factory and I haven't showered in 8 days.  Should I get on the subway?

By all means.  Your odor might overpower the usual eau de dead hobo.

I'm a dead hobo and I find that kind of offensive.

Well I'm sorry dead hobo ghost, but don't you have better things to do than haunt my blog? Go on now, scoot! All of you, scoot!


can i have some money? said...

"Can I Have Some Money" that is the question! Whether it is nobler to save or spend money... who knows?

Can I Have Some Money? by Candi Sparks is also the name of a book series to help children learn how to make money, and the value of a dollar. On sale at Amazon.com and other fine establishments.

Hannah said...

"Harness your mystical vagina-powers to divine the destinations of all man-passengers, and make it your personal mission to get them there." I'm all over it. MYSTICAL VAGINA POWERS, GO!!!!

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