How to Behave on the Subway: A Comprehensive Guide


In lieu of this latest video of people doing things they could really do elsewhere and not bother anybody instead of doing these things on the subway and bothering hundreds, possibly thousands, we feel it's important to issue a friendly reminder of how to behave on the subway. After all, it's back to school time, and the summer has been long, and bewildering. Perhaps we've forgotten all the things we learned at the end of last year! Herewith, how to behave on the subway, in three mostly simple steps:

1. Pay attention to yourself, and to other people. We're all taking up space in this world, and there are a lot of us in the city. If you pretend someone doesn't exist, do it while, deftly, acknowledging with space and your body that they do exist. This is a complicated way of saying: Don't walk right into someone, even if you don't make eye contact. That is, in most instances, preferable! Let people get OFF the train before you get on. The pole is not for your entire body to lean against, even if you haven't felt another human's touch in more than a fortnight. If you have long, luxurious hair, whether attached to your head or some portion of your face, know that tossing it about and combing it may result in it sweeping across someone's arm or hand, and that they may not be able to eat their lunch later. Watch where you put your hands and feet, because someone else's may already be there, and that's awkward for everyone involved. Learn to swipe. Learn to wait for others to swipe. Spreading your legs wide and straddling three seats is not only rude and annoying, you will probably go to hell for it, as you will for holding the subway doors open, unless you are holding them for someone in desperate need, or someone just behind you who's about to have the doors shut in his/her face. If you have to go out through the emergency exit, and someone with a baby or huge bag is coming behind you, be nice and hold that door, even if for but a second. This is called Good Karma. It is also called "being human."

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2. The subway is for getting you to where you want to go. It is not for...Fighting. Eating. Talking on your cell phone loudly so everyone knows your husband or boyfriend or wife or girlfriend or whatever-person is a real jerk, and, frankly, so are you. Making death threats. Selling things. Buying things. Stealing things. Licking your own shoes. Licking anything. Clipping your fingernails, or any nails. Breaking up. Weeping noisily and excessively in the hopes of being comforted by strangers. Vomiting (we know, sometimes this cannot be helped). Engaging in any sort of personal grooming or hygienic maintenance. Making friends. Losing your baby. Yelling. Singing. Pretending you are in your own apartment. Sighing loudly, frequently. Muttering. Being naked. Being scary. Blasting your music so loudly that everyone else is fully aware of how cool/horrible/displeasing you are. Exercising. Pretending the subway pole is a stripper pole. Having a party. Making a mess. Making an impact on society. Making a scene. Changing anybody's mind. Voting. Lecturing. Blocking people with your bike. Showing off your relationship with your pet rat. Sitting on another person. Sitting on the floor. Moving to another apartment. Traveling with anything more than one large suitcase, or a small tree. Being an alarmist. Recapping last night's episode of The Bachelorette. Learning to drive. Getting everyone else to look at you by doing something transgressive, arty, special, shocking, or stupid, something that you think is really, really cool and different but is really just kind of annoying to all the people who are minding their own business in the hopes of some semblance of peace and quiet until they get off the subway -- except for the tourists, to whom it presents a view of the city that they will take back and spew excitedly to their friends, and do you want that? Promoting your personal "brand" in hopes of getting a book deal/reality series/on YouTube. Torturing your captive audience, mercilessly or accidentally. Plotting what you will do to really impress everyone on your next subway ride. Videotaping any of the former.

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3. Get on the subway train of your choice. Sit down or stand up in an area that seems convenient, and is not massively in the way of or on top of other people. Stay there until you reach your stop, reading, listening to music, staring into the ether, counting the minutes until you've arrived. Get off the subway. Carry on.

We realize this seems a challenge, and that you may have already failed at one or more of these things, perhaps as recently as today. Practice, as always, makes perfect. You can do it, New York City! The rest of our life starts NOW.

[JDoll / thisisjendoll]

Go to Runnin' Scared for all our latest news coverage.


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20 comments
Atheistpolitic
Atheistpolitic

Taking up more than your fair share of seat on a subway car (feet up, legs spread wide, lying down, etc.) can also get you jail time.

My friend was on the subway about a month ago, completely alone in the car at a completely off-peak hour, and a cop walked up to him and told him to put his feet down. He said, "I'm sorry, but why? No one else on the train but you and me. I'm not bothering anyone." The cop asked to see his ID, and he didn't have it so he got taken to central booking in cuffs and spent the next twelve hours in jail. 

Kristen Gudsnuk
Kristen Gudsnuk

Whoever wrote this is way too squeamish to ride the subway. Take a cab.

...And then write a long list of things that cab drivers do that are annoying: "Don't make eye contact with me through the rear view mirror. Don't ask me where to drop you off. Turn the radio off."

freezing
freezing

Oh, and I'd like to add:The ugly people who have to make out with someone to prove anybody'd kiss them.Staring at me because in your ignorant, insatiable bliss - beyond all conception of human behavior and attempted signals - you haven't realized I'm gay, uninterested, think you're ugly, or wish you thought me ugly.

freezing
freezing

These (and many more...including the MTA itself...hell it's a systemic problem) are reasons I NEVER ever, even if it's raining and can't get a cab, take the subway. Ever.

onceler
onceler

forgot number 1 rule - let people get off the train before you get on

Rather not say
Rather not say

The subway is not the location for sex solo or otherwise. Everybody has dry spells. Get it in your head she/he is just not into you and getting action at home. Speaking of home if that is the location you should wait until you get your action. We all know about the internet but if you just can't get her/him out of your head no harm no foul. Speaking of waiting until you get home the subway is not the place for peeing. Yes no matter how well you think you are hiding you are being seen. So don't drink that 32oz coke before going on the subway. There will be "train traffic ahead" and "due to an earlier incident"  delays. Besides when you finally do get home  you will experience a long loud heavenly pee that will bring you back to the days of your youth when the school bathrooms were unusable and unsafe.

HT
HT

One of the commenters noted guys who sit as though on the throne, legs spread, laid out, elbows down but nobody mentioned girls who sit with their legs crossed and the foot dangling in the middle of the aisle. Jen is 24 and too cool for school. The L train to Williamsburg. I have a few in my building. Don't bother to put their garbage in the garbage cans and close the lids. Don't bother to  collapse and fold their cardboard boxes, but they do recycle.

Train Rider
Train Rider

In California, they have signs on the trains instructing people how to cough and sneeze while limiting the likelihood of spreading your germs. New York and New Jersey would do well to just post more signage about stuff. For example, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail has tiny, tiny No Smoking signs. It prohibits dogs that aren't in carriers, but there's no sign about that. Also, at rail stations, start making stairways with up arrows on the right and down arrows on the left.

Aftermath34
Aftermath34

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Ramona Fuller
Ramona Fuller

i cant believe this!! me and my sister just got two i-pads for $42.77 each and a $50 amazon card for $9. the stores want to keep this a secret and they dont tell you. Go here, tinyurl.com/3qa436v

Ramona Fuller
Ramona Fuller

i cant believe this!! me and my sister just got two i-pads for $42.77 each and a $50 amazon card for $9. the stores want to keep this a secret and they dont tell you. 

Ramona Fuller
Ramona Fuller

i cant believe this!! me and my sister just got two i-pads for $42.77 each and a $50 amazon card for $9. the stores want to keep this a secret and they dont tell you. Go here, http://bit.ly/nRehTZ

DP
DP

Boo - all the videos are removed. We want to see the crazy!

Piehead
Piehead

I'd like to add "Turn the sound off on your phone when you're playing video games on it. I love Angry Birds too, but I can stand not to hear it for the duration of my train ride. You can too."  

Tony
Tony

Don't be the young hipster on the 2 train last night who kept barking at his girlfriend and then nuzzling her. She thought it was cute. We all thought it was lame and maybe even a little gross. I mean, I'm headed home to dinner! Okay? ;)

maddy
maddy

Spreading your legs wide and straddling three seats is not only rude and annoying, you will probably go to hell for it, as you will for holding the subway doors --> I SURE HOPE THERE IS SUCH A HELL

Mike
Mike

Do not stand against the doors.  If you're in the doorway, when the door opens, where does that leave you?  IN THE WAY!

Drabbler
Drabbler

The first one is a good rule for life in general.  Most of the day-to-day problems, not just on the subway but also on sidewalks, on roads, in stores, and wherever else come down to people being unaware of their surroundings.

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