The "Summer Of Hell" has been marked by frequent subway delays, ongoing track work, decaying infrastructure, and Governor Cuomo repeatedly pretending he doesn't control the MTA. It's not easy commuting every day with the knowledge that every train ride could trap you in a system-wide meltdown, which is why we should all do our part to NOT make it even worse by being rude and gross space invaders. After all, for most straphangers, just getting from Point A to Point B without someone falling asleep on your shoulder or urinating on your face is an achievement.
Below, as part of the ongoing We The Commuters project, we've compiled some simple subway etiquette tips to avoid being the jerk who ends up in Gothamist's inboxes.
MANSPREADING/SEAT HOGGING: That could mean you're putting your bag (or a piece of gum or a banana or a salad) on the seat next to you; or stretching out across an entire bench for a little rush hour nap; or just spreading your legs extra wide (and extra obnoxiously) as to prevent someone from sitting down. Either way, cut it out. There are only so many seats on a train, and there are way too many people already trying to cram onboard—no amount of pseudo-scientific research will excuse it. And fair warning: people sometimes get punched over manspreading!
HYGIENE: You know that feeling you get when you're riding the train, and you suddenly have the urge to clip your nails, floss your teeth, shave your head, tweeze your nose hairs, exfoliate your dry skin, or even pop your lovers' pimples? Hopefully you haven't actually experienced that feeling, but if you have—please control the urge! Wait until you get home to start grooming yourself instead of leaving bits of your flesh on your fellow straphangers. There's already enough dead skin on the subway as it is.
(Photo via tipster)
BARE FEET: Obviously no one wants to see your feet on a seat, or your bare toes wrapped around a subway pole. But why would you even want to expose your feet to all that subway detritus as well? Who wins in this scenario?
SMOKING: It doesn't matter if it's cigarettes, marijuana or whatever the latest synthetic drug is—you're in a confined space on the train, and it's very rude (in addition to being totally illegal) to light up in there. And you might end up getting labelled the biggest subway jerk of the year. Save it for the open-air streets.
WATCHING PORN: This is, surprisingly, more of an issue than anyone in their right mind would imagine. We know there is nothing more erotic than idling on a hot crowded subway platform with hundreds of other disgruntled New Yorkers, but just wait until you get home, where you can turn the volume way up.
WEAR HEADPHONES: Whether you're listening to music on a boombox or watching a movie on your phone (how is that a satisfactory viewing experience, by the way?), headphones are your friend. The general gist is: you're in a public place with lots of other people, so be empathetic and respectful of each other. And while we're here, it's worth pointing out that you should also be aware of the loudness of your voice or the conversations you're having (and your phone's noises). Everyone can hear you, so take a moment to really consider whether or not you want to share that story about the time you vomited all over your significant other in the middle of sex.
PDA: Nobody is objecting to some kissing or hand-holding—we're talking about hardcore making out, explicit sex acts, and/or sickening love-ins. Maybe use this precious train time together to talk and stuff!
SPITTING: Don't spit on the floor, forgo the sunflower seeds, and definitely don't spit on another human being. Also, keep in mind that there may be a direct correlation between subway spitters and murder suspects.
POLE HUGGING: Don't block other people from being able to access things, like grasping the pole so they don't do a slip 'n slide down the aisle. Don't fuse your body with the pole, and definitely put your feet on it!
Can you believe New Yorkers aren't obeying these stickers? (Photo by Amy Langfield)
DOOR BLOCKING: This is a nuanced one that is hard for some people to grasp, so the most important thing is to be aware of your surroundings. As with pole hugging, you don't want to block other people from accessing things, especially if they are trying to exit the train without knocking you over. (This doesn't mean you can't stand there and catch some z's while the train is in motion, but it does mean you better get out of the way once those doors open.) The new subway arrow maps may be more fitting for a kindergarten classroom, but that doesn't mean they don't have the right idea.
DON'T LITTER: Don't leave garbage or food or dead crabs or insects behind. Definitely don't leave used (or even unused) condoms behind. If you absolutely must engage in some sort of performance art piece, make sure you pick up the dead flowers which represent gentrification or your mother's womb or whatever.
EATING: This is almost certainly the most hotly debated and controversial subject. After all, eating a sandwich probably wouldn't (shouldn't?) really bother anyone else (and people do need to eat on the go sometimes)—but opening up a platter of spaghetti can only lead to trouble. So the type of food—how much it smells, and how messy it can be to ingest it—is important. Use your best judgement, but lean on the side of less-is-more—and consider investing in a fancy tray if you're gonna do it a lot.
MANNERS: This is pretty basic stuff, but YES, you 100% should give up your seat when appropriate—sitting is killing you anyway! This includes offering your seat up to pregnant women, the elderly, people with disabilities, and if you're feeling really generous, kids (though maybe kids should be giving up their seats to their elders who have knee problems and broken spirits).
When in doubt, just try to live your life like this guy.