There's been a lot of talk about proper subway etiquette of late, and it's true that door-blockers, manspreaders, and sound blasters are a scourge on society. But the real demons underground are the pole-leaners, and despite Gothamist's repeated efforts to convince human bodies to stay off the subway poles, it keeps happening. Well, it's time for one last blog post to end it once and for all.
Today, for instance, I took a crowded B train to work. Poles on older trains are notoriously sparse, and though some taller New Yorkers are able to find relief in the hand rails, not all of us are so lucky. So, of course, today's pole real estate was in high demand, which made it all the more infuriating when some obtuse straphanger got onboard and posted up RIGHT against the pole (which I and several other commuters were using) so he could use both hands to read his book.
As soon as the plane landed in NYC I got a call with bad news, then I get on the tarmac bus and some twit is hugging the pole. Welcome back!
— Roz 🇺🇸🇩🇴🗽 (@RozNYC) May 26, 2014
A few weeks ago, I was on another also-very-crowded B train when a woman entered and decided to wrap her entire body around the pole, as if it were the Japanese body pillow James Franco married on 30 Rock. Originally my hand was on that pole, but I had no intention of unintentionally groping this person, so instead I had to subway surf hands-free. At some point a sudden jerk knocked me into the woman and her beloved pole, and she glared and shook her head at me. DEMON, BE GONE.
When the nice dude who holds the subway door for you turns out to be a pole leaner #smh
— Jenn (@jlc9249) August 19, 2014
There are the pole leaners who see your hand as a challenge and line their spines up against
your knuckles; the tourist children whose parents take photos of them hugging the pole like the tiny selfish monsters they are because they are just so proud of little Sally riding the subway like a real New Yorker; and, really, just tourists in general, who have apparently never seen a pole or a human hand before. Someone once suggested I solve the pole-leaning problem by balling my hand up into a fist and jabbing it directly into the offending leaner's back, but most people seem pretty unfazed by that and attaching tiny razors to my fingers might be considered a crime. Unlike pole hogging, which for some reason is not.
If we're looking for a way to get more money into the subway system, fining pole leaners would be a good start. People who lean against poles are either deeply imperceptive or straight-up sociopaths, and there is no way to stop them. Manspreaders are bad, but at least there's anatomical reasoning behind the leg spread. Door blockers can be a pain, but for the most part people at least seem to move to the side when the doors open.
Some of the other etiquette offenses—bare feet on the seat, consuming an entire cheese wheel, nose-hair clipping—are worse than pole-leaning but much rarer. Pole-leaners and huggers know that there's no excuse for their bad manners, but they choose to flout subway etiquette anyway.
could srsly fuck up a pole leaner 😤
— Ñīkkî Bårbįë (@nikolemack) November 10, 2014
Pole-leaners are everywhere—on the street, in your office, in your family. They walk among us in disguise, revealing their true malevolence only when they're safe in a subway car, ready to lay waste to the very last uncrowded pole on which you've chosen to put your hand.
— Alex Butler (@AlexWritesNews) April 4, 2015
In this, the Dawn of Cuomo's Broken MTA, any small subway inconvenience morphs into a dagger through the heart. Pole leaners are hurting you. End them.
[Editor's note: I wanted to tone this down a notch, but frankly Rebecca's rage is frightening me.]