Here at Gothamist HQ, we get more than our fair share of subway etiquette queries. This last two weeks alone, we've seen selfish behavior, sociopathic behavior, and a possibly bionic subway pole. There's one thing that seems to come up again and again in countless emails: people putting their feet on the seat.
As with most things on our mass transit system, there are a few exceptions: if you were injured before getting on the subway, or you have some medical reason that stipulates you need to keep your leg elevated, then obviously that's fine. If there's a rat scurrying around the floor of the train, it's understandable to put your legs up without even thinking about it. If you just got off of work at 4 a.m. and it's a completely empty train, well, no one's the wiser (except maybe the cops, but that's another story). But other than those unique scenarios, you almost certainly should not be putting your feet on the seats.
The subway is a communal space; it takes just a modicum of courtesy to realize that wiping your feces-encrusted sneakers or your fungus-infused toes all over seats where millions of other people sit everyday is pretty rude. Do you think that subway seats are cleaned every day? Stop kidding yourself. And just as bad, you're hogging seats that other people might really want (or need) to use. Most people are just trying to get from Point A to Point B—let's all be mindful of other people.
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. Often when people are upset about finding their bad behavior submitted to Gothamist, they'll ask: 'Why didn't the offended party say something to me?' We can all be proactive about this one: if you're on the subway, don't stretch your feet onto the seats unless you have a truly exceptional reason to do so.
And hey, we're doing you a favor: cops really do hand out citations and occasionally even arrest people for putting their feet on the seats. And conductors have been known to lose their temper because of seat hoggers.
We made a handy visual guide for any further questions you might have:
What if I'm wearing really neat boots and I want people to see them? They're lovely. But don't put your feet on the seats.
What if I just had a pretty sweet run and want to stretch my calf? Wait until you get outdoors. Don't put your feet on the seats.
What if I only put part of my sockless foot on the seat under me? If you have a sock on and it is tucked in under you so as to not block any other seats, then it's debatable. But we'd wager that the person who sits on that seat after you get up would be grossed out knowing you were just rubbing your toes all over it.
What if I'm engrossed in a really compelling book? You can be engrossed in a really compelling book with both of your feet touching the ground.
What if I'm acting like a pompous asshole? You can always continue to do so with your feet firmly planted on the ground.
What if I really just can't? You can.
What if I really want to take a nap? If it's rush hour, no way.
What if I'm sleeping in a very sweet manner? You're still taking up a few extra seats, so we'd rather you didn't if you can help it.
What if this video game I'm playing is off the hook? Who the hell says 'off the hook' anymore?
Photo by allisonsaid
What if I'm in the middle of a murderous rampage and just want to cram in a moment to finish reading Mindy Kaling's book? No.
Courtesy a "concerned" citizen.
What if I— Stop right there. No socks, no question.
Photographs from a reader
Is this really an important issue? Probably not, however, it is a mundane issue that consistently enrages people. And it's an issue that we as a community have the power to snuff out.
But I have a stylish hat on! You can leave your hat on (and sit in one seat).
What if I'm a dog? You're one of the most wonderful creatures on Earth, and we thank you for your endless curiosity, energy, and cute videos. But your paws are probably even more filthy than a human's, so no. Also, you probably shouldn't be on the train out of a carrying case (or at least on your owners lap).
What about me? You're okay mama. You're okay.