How NOT to Use the NYC Subway: Top Subway Pet Peeves

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Let me preface this post with the things I love about the NYC subway: it’s the great equalizer, where you’ll find people from all walks of life. This is the place where you’ll see New Yorkers at their best, because if you ever get lost, there’s always a kind stranger willing to point you in the right direction. But this is also the place where you’ll find New Yorkers at their worst. Some of y’all didn’t have good home training and it really shows once you step onto the subway platform.

In no particular order, here are my top NYC subway pet peeves. Locals, let me know if you agree, and tourists, take notes, so you don’t end up ruining someone’s commute.

1. When someone in the seat next to you is digging in their bag or their pockets and their elbow keeps hitting you.

2. When people don’t take their backpacks off on a crowded train.

3. When people with peculiar music tastes are blasting their music for the whole train car to hear.

4. When other people’s hands rub up against yours as you’re all holding the pole. As Awkwafina pointed out in her book, Awkwafina’s NYC, this is one of the most off-putting thing you can do on the subway.

5. When people lean against the pole as the train is starting to fill up. On an empty train it’s fine, but doing it in a full car will have people shooting visual daggers at you.

6. When people stand in front of the turnstile looking for their MetroCard. Only stand in front of the turnstile when you’re ready to swipe. God forbid you do this at a station full of busy office workers like Grand Central or 51st Street or Fulton Street.

7. When people block the train doors because they don’t want to give up their cushy leaning spot.

Holding a MetroCard on a NYC train - top NYC subway pet peeves

8. When people stop on the stairs. You’re allowed to go slow because not everyone has the knees to handle the steep climb, but never, ever, stop on the stairs.

9. When people offer to sell you a swipe. You better move your scammy, con-artist wannabe self from my vicinity.

10. When people think they can take up more than one seat. Your $2.75 bought you ONE seat on the train, not the whole train.

11. When the doors open and close fifty billion times because someone is holding it up. LET IT GO! THERE WILL ALWAYS BE ANOTHER TRAIN!

12. When people clip their nails on the train. Why would you think that’s ever okay to do in public?! Not only is it gross, you’re also making the people around you fearful of getting your nasty nail trimmings lodged in their eyes.

13. When people barge their way onto the train without waiting for passengers to get off.

14. When people who decide at the last minute to get off the train get mad at you when you start to board.

5 train, NYC subway

15. When people litter on the train or throw things onto the tracks. Track fires are real, and you’re part of the reason why we don’t have nice things.

16. When people who don’t give others a chance to hold the pole. If/when I subsequently fall on you, I won’t apologize.

17. When panhandlers stop in front of each person in the subway car and individually ask them for change.

18. When people think it’s okay to smoke in an empty car.

19. When people eat/bring pizza on the train. You’re making me jealous and hungry.

20. When the conductor makes an announcement that no one can understand. God forbid they ever say anything of immediate importance.

21. When people who rest their feet against the pole. Why make touching the pole grosser than it already is?

What are your subway pet peeves? Let me know in the comment section!

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7 responses to “How NOT to Use the NYC Subway: Top Subway Pet Peeves”

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  7. Vivian Avatar

    Great roundup of subway bad manners! A few quibbles and add-ons:

    #2. People can’t take their backpacks off because there just isn’t room. The best we fellow straphangers can hope for is that the backpackers maintain “spatial awareness” of the fact that their bodies are about 2 feet thicker than normal. Doesn’t happen often.

    #6. These are EXACTLY the same people who won’t move away from an ATM they’ve just used until they have fully completed the business of squaring away their money, bank card, receipt, wallet, purse, backpack, pocket, zippers, etc., 100% perfectly. Complete self absorption + obliviousness. Someday they’ll get what they deserve but it won’t be fun to watch because they’ll be too oblivious to put cause and effect together.

    #11. C’mon, you KNOW that ain’t necessarily so!

    Enjoying your blog,

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