Priscilla Shay’s Guide to Surviving NYC’s MTA

This isn’t what I normally post, but *shrug* it popped into my head. I spend 5-6 hours on public transportation every day for work. I think it’s safe to say I’ve picked up on a few DO’s and DON’T’s for the NYC MTA system. You don’t have to believe me. But, for your well being and others, I’d say try to follow them.

1) There can and will always be “train traffic ahead” of you. You can be on the only running train in the whole state and there will be “train traffic ahead”. You can have a track built solely for your train. YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE TRAIN TRAFFIC AHEAD OF YOU. Always. DO expect train traffic

2) When in a crowded train, should you be standing near the pole in front of the door, there are a few guidelines.

A) The pole is long enough that you don’t have to touch the other person’s hand. Yes, your hand might slide or you get tired, but unless you’re on a train in the Victorian period and you’re trying to send subtle “look at me now touches” DON’T TOUCH THE OTHER PERSON.

B) If you hold on the pole too high, everyone will get a whiff of your crusty pits.Train 2B

C) Conversely, if you hold too low, you might get a handful of junk (man or woman). You might make a new friend, but that’s not how *I* want to make friends.

So DON’T touch anyone and DO keep your grasp in the general middle of the pole.

D)Also, shower. Don’t you get on a crowded train in the middle of ANY SEASON without showering. You smell bad. How do you think 50 people who haven’t showered all crammed in one car smell? Think compost pile.

3) If you’re transferring trains and walking between stations (for example, walking from the 6 train at 51st to the E/M on 53rd) DO STAY TO YOUR RIGHT. I don’t care what direction you’re walking in just stay to your right.

4) If you are taking the escalator STAY TO THE RIGHT. The right side is there for you to stand and enjoy the escalator as it was made. The LEFT SIDE is for those who will walk up the escalator (as opposed to taking the stairs to…the escalator -.-). That said DO STAY TO THE RIGHT or I will stare at you and judge you and I WILL laugh when the person behind you shoves you out the way to get by.

5) I don’t care if you’re a tourist or a native New Yorker KEEP UP WITH THE FLOW OF TRAFFIC. You don’t have to walk fast enough to get around the person in front of you. Just don’t be the idiot who stops in the middle of a steadily flowing stream of people. You will either be trampled or have your family cursed for the next 6 generations.

umbrella6) When you get on the train STEP TO THE MIDDLE. There’s no reason for you to stop right by the door. Other people won’t be able to get on and if I see you doing it I’ll kneecap you with my $7 pink frilly umbrella. Seriously.

7) EVERYDAY IS APRIL FOOL’S DAY FOR THE MTA. Oh, you thought your train was coming in 5 minutes? You checked schedule ahead of time? You checked the app for delays, service changes, and planned construction? MTA’s response? GOTCHA! APRIL FOOL’S! Even December is April Fool’s for MTA.

8) Sometimes the train will be so crowded *coughRUSHHOURcough* you won’t need to hold onto anything. Even if you lose your footing you won’t fall. You’ll just float there a little bit until the next stop when people get off and the other reposition themselves.

9) Finally, you and your bicycle or your washing machine sized box ARE NOT, I repeat, ARE NOT getting on the train during rush hour. Nope. Not happening. Just, no.

10) I don’t care if you eat on the train. I get it. You’re hungry. Sometimes you run out of the house without eating anything or you didn’t have time to grab lunch. I get it. I passed out on the train a few months ago and it may very well have been because I was hungry. But, don’t you dare open anything that has a strong odor that will cling to my clothes for the next three months and 15 washes. Have a bagel. Have a cereal bar. DO NOT PULL OUT A CUTTING BOARD AND START CHOPPING ONIONS.

Well, there you have it. Ten rules – gentle suggestions – to surviving the NYC MTA (at least while I’m on the train). Do you have any DO’s and DON’Ts for NY or other areas?

7 thoughts on “Priscilla Shay’s Guide to Surviving NYC’s MTA

  1. Numbers 3 & 4 — PREACH!
    Some years ago, on a Westchester County Bus, I had the opportunity to watch a young woman break out her aluminum-foil wrapped chicken leg and steadily devour it. OK, that was peculiar enough but we all know how busy life can be and the bus ride is the only time for eating, and good on her for frugally bringing food from home (I guess). She utterly lost my sympathy, however, when she broke out the dental floss and had at her gums with gusto.

  2. Love the illustrations!

    I think these should be universal rules for surviving the metro system anywhere…things can get pretty awkward on the skytrains here in Vancouver during rush hour. o.O

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