(via Dana Rubinstein)
Since its inception, Gothamist has taken a clear stand on subway pole huggers; as we wrote in 2004, "nothing shows an utter lack of consideration for work-weary commuters like pole hugging." We revisited the issue in 2008 and in 2012, because pleas to common sense and common courtesy should come around as often as a presidential cycle. But perhaps in our zest to discourage pole hugging, we've neglected to specify that wrapping one's butt or feet around the pole is just as despicable.
You can see some examples above—the feet came from a trip on the R train this week, while the butt one dates to an April journey. Having personally doling out death stares on the subway to people who have done the former, I can attest that there is something uniquely narcissistic and irritating about people who engage in some mindless subway yoga with their feet.
You could argue that sometimes when the train isn't crowded, and one is coming home from work after a very long day, it's understandable why they might stretch out their feet on the seats, and perhaps take a little nap (hey, sometimes it can even be charming); certainly there are a number of homeless people we've encountered doing just that, and as much as we wouldn't want to encourage it, it's hard not to empathize. But putting your stupid dirty shoes or sandals on the pole takes purposefulness—you're blocking the path of other people who want to get by, regardless of whether it's crowded. And worst of all, the poop particles you step in every day are now being carelessly rubbed all over a pole that tens of thousands of people will touch over the course of a day.
As with pole huggers and feet stampers, all it takes to prevent one from wedging the subway pole between their butt cheeks is just a few seconds of mindfulness. Check your surroundings; ask yourself, "are any of my body parts squished into or wrapped around the pole?" If yes, take a deep breath and un-attach yourself. It's simple really! We all already have to deal with subway nightmares that are out of our control—performance artists, washing machines, armies of children playing recorders—we should do everything within our power to be respectful of other people's space, to aim for a kind of ideal commuter selflessness.
And if you see someone else pole hugging, feet propping, butt wedging or even leg spreading and feel inspired, approach them with a smile and respectfully ask them if they could be a little more mindful. And if they curse at you or give you the middle finger, be the bigger person (and feel free to take their picture and send it to email@example.com).