Subway Behavior 101

I’m pretty sure the NYC MTA is solely responsible for me becoming a crazy, antisocial, sociopath.

I’ve developed coping mechanisms to help me deal with my hour+ commute each way from the Boogie Down BX to the city.  Such habits include, but are not limited to:

  • Sticking my elbow out whenever someone goes to sit next to me, so they can’t sit right on top of me.  I’m small, but I have a “Dirty Dancing” outlook when it comes to space.  “This is my dance space, this is YOUR dance space.”
  • When it’s sunny out, I keep my STUNNA SHADES on even when we’ve gone underground.  If you can’t see my eyes, I can’t see you.  Or something.
  • Why yes, those are my feet! I’m sorry you didn’t notice them before when you were stepping all over them.  It seems that you notice them now, since I’ve kicked you back.  Hard.
  • When I’m gearing to get off the train, you best move aside.  This little girl heaves a mighty blow.  I will push you out of my way.
  • My mom and I joke that we have “elbows of steel”.  Subway platform-goers, take that as your warning.  I will use them.
  • If you deign to walk in the opposite direction of everyone else on the staircase, because you don’t want to wait with the rest of humanity, don’t glare at me when I don’t readily move out of your way.  You’re going up/down the wrong way.  Not me.  Get over it.
  • If I see someone I know on the train, but they don’t see me… I leave it as that.  Subway time is my alone time.  Me no like talky to people.
  • And if you don’t know the unwritten rule of the escalators, here it is:  Left side’s for walkin’.  Right side’s for standin’.  You’re welcome.  Don’t mess with it.

All of this makes me seem like a horribly unpleasant person, doesn’t it? I promise I’m nice… just don’t get in my way/touch me/talk to me on the subway.  🙂


  1. Allison says

    You are SUCH a horrible and unpleasant person!! lol I love you and I love this post! I agree with this 100%. I also have to say, I am one to totally ignore people I know on the train too because I no like talky to people.


    • Allison says

      PS: And I will quote the Ghostbusters: “Being miserable and treating other people like dirt is every New Yorkers god given right!”

  2. When I was on the subway a month ago, a man projectile vomited in front of me. Why!

  3. Even though we don’t have a subway system, we do have transit tunnels for the buses and light rail trains and I’ve developed some similar behaviors!

  4. Escalefters are THE WORST PEOPLE EVER. It made me especially angry in DC, where nearly every offender is a tourist. Don’t you folks DRIVE? Pass on the left, y’all.

  5. I’m from Boston, I know that according to sports that means we should be enemies, but socially, it brings us together. In short, I’d be the same way.

  6. Hahaha! Love this list! I’m pretty sure if I had to ride the subway that much, I’d act the same way. Love that you have elbows of steel!

  7. My dad taught me when I was little to use my elbows and one day Knight noticed I was using them in a crowd and I was all “yeah, i’m not afraid to throw ‘bows.” I know, you probably had to be there, but point being, even if we are nice people (which we are) sometimes you have to just be a little rude to get a little respect!

  8. Oh man, I used to do the elbows-out thing too! It didn’t stop everyone, unfortunately, but most people took the hint. If they didn’t, I’d just elbow them until they moved. And I kicked too. You’re not alone with this stuff–New Yorkers have to develop these coping mechanisms so we don’t all run around the city shivving people.

  9. Actually, that’s really helpful! Each city’s public transit has some serious nuances and such like that, and seeing as I’ll be in NYC in two weeks – I should know these things!

  10. I’m now scared of your elbows! 😉

  11. This totally applies to the metro too. Sunglasses on at all times… it’s my invisibility cloak!

  12. It’s yet again baseball season… and in Chicago is means my commute sucks. The Red Line is already a pretty packed train, but then you add all the baseball fans (typically all going to Wrigley)… and most of them are loud and drunk (at least ALWAYS after the game). UGH.

    As much as everyone in Chicago complains about the CTA, I still love it. But yeah. People on it are generally stupid. I hate the people who swing their arms like crazy as they slowly walk up/down the stairs and then come to a dead stop at the top/bottom. It happens a couple times each week when I’m going to school. … Or yesterday. The woman who sat next to me had no sense of personal space, and she had a backpack so that was in my side. Then she refused to move or even acknowledge me as I tried to get off for my stop. I had to climb over her.

    People could, and should, write books on everything NOT to do on public transit. Or at least compile all the stories of stupid people on transit.


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