Since moving to NYC, we have become experienced public transportation riders. We ride the train, the subway, the ferry and the bus. And as a people-watcher, I try and pay attention to how people behave on mass transit. There are rules posted, sometimes. But there are unwritten rules that one must learn. They are more than, “Do I sit, stand, or hold-on?”
When you enter, you take a quick scan to see whether you are going to sit, stand or hold-on. First you look for an empty seat. Preferably one that is not next to an occupied seat. Remember, space is what you desire! If there is none, you make the decision to sit, stand or hold-on. If you choose to stand, do you want to hold on or not. One believes you look tougher if you don’t hang on to something. But the toughness quickly goes away when you start to fly around, fall or quickly grab with the sudden starts and stops. I usually choose to hang on to something. But what? if you hang to to the bar off the roof, you have to take the power of your deodorant into consideration. I tend to hold on to the rails on the seat or the pole in the middle.
My daughter, on the other hand, makes very different choices. She doesn’t like to hold on. She enjoys the freedom felt with flying around. She believes the pole is for spinning. And rarely, if ever, would she choose to actually sit down in a seat. If she does, it is to eat, and she needs a second seat to put out her spread. We get a wide variety of looks when she is in full form. Clearly we are violating some of those unwritten rules.
Ken Paulsen wrote on article for the Staten Island Advance on Feb 16, 2016, that discusses encounters we try to avoid when traveling. These are encounters one tries to spot on the initial scan. And one should try to avoid being the encounter:
- The sleeper – People spend a lot of time and mass transit. But we have to remember that people are not pillows! And as much as I like a good cuddle as the next, you seem to become very angry when I have to wake you so I can get off this thing.
- The snorer – It is one thing for a person to slouch on you. Both the snore affects the entire car. Even if I am not the one you are laying on, my ride has now become a bad dream.
- The bagger – Most of us carry some sort of bag on the transit. I prefer the back pack. Now, the unwritten rule it to take it off when you enter. Put it between your feet whether you are sitting or standing. This allows for more room. Remember, space is what you desire! But then there are those who believe they can carry multiple bags. It is worse than people counting two carry-ons at the airport.
- The confused tourist – I was a tourist for awhile. I understand the feeling. I always try and help those who have maps and looking at maps and asking questions. It will help us all in the long run.
- The yakker – Folks, we really don’t need or want o hear your conversations. I don’t want to hear both sides. I don’t even want to hear your side. Please wait until you are out. This is not a phone booth.
- The music lover – I thought ear buds were used so that the rest of us didn’t have to hear your music?
- The recliner – I understand space is what we all desire. But do you have to attempt to take up as much as you can. Sit up straight. Pull your feet in. Collect your things.
- The must-sit-next-to-you person – There were seats available, but you had to sit next to me. Was it my clothes, my book, my back pack? Why?Oh, now I know, because you are going to spend the whole ride telling me!
- The lunch breaker – Now I tell my daughter not to spread her food out. I really don’t need the aroma of your meal, nor do I need the remnants all over me as well.
- The salon – Do you really need to trim your nails now? Polish and make-up? Oh, and just go ahead and brush all that hair in my face?
- The exposer – Now, I have been known to wear a kilt once in awhile. I try to be very aware that people really don’t want have proof of the popular kilt question. So, we need to be mindful that this is a family experience. And I am not your family!
I love this city. I actually enjoy riding public transportation. I will try and keep my bagpipe music down. I will try and keep my coffee from spilling all over you. I will try and keep my daughter from becoming the entertainment the whole ride. I will try and keep the voices in my head in my seat. But if I don’t, please forgive. And yes, you may have the rest burger!