Every subway etiquette issue Gothamist examines is part of our ongoing quixotic quest to make this city just a little more considerate. As a result, we've seen things you people wouldn't believe: couples popping each others' pimples during rush hour, unapologetic manspreaders, improper condom disposal, stubborn doorblockers, and performance artists run amok. Hell, just a few weeks ago, I watched as one straphanger held another person hostage with a stun gun because he elbowed her.
And yet... this may have broken me. This one photo, taken by my colleague Jen Carlson last week, may have been the last straw. You can see it's a mostly empty train. You can see the woman is leaning on the seat divider—leaning so far back in fact that she moves directly into the sitting person's space.
Despite the fact that there was ample room for her to sit next to the person, or stand straight up, or even lean against the door, she made the decision to get real comfy right on top of someone else in the least logical configuration imaginable.
I've spent days staring at it and I Still. Don't. Understand. It. It has deeply confounded me. It may not be the worst subway etiquette offense ever (we have seen it before), and yet, it may be the most confusing.
This isn't about what happened next—whether or not the sitting person asked her directly to move or passive-aggressively huffed and puffed, whether the woman listened and corrected her behavior (she didn't) or defiantly stood her ground (yep). This is about the decision to lean there in the first place. It's not like it's extra comfortable or something (it may in fact be the least comfortable position for your back)—it is an unnatural lean. It's also an aberration of space and an abdication of reason.
Unless you're as charming as Patrick Stewart, you're not going to get away with invading that much space without pissing off someone on your commute.