Sunday, March 29, 2009

Check your cell phone as you walk up the stairs

Whatever voicemail, text message, e-mail or Facebook status update will be there when you get to the street. People in this city have enough trouble walking up stairs without looking at something in their hands. Forget rubbing the stomach and patting the head. No one has the motor skills to walk and type at the same time. Look down at a phone and you'll walk right into me. I've stopped because the person in front of me is walking slowly while looking at his phone.

And if you've waited to the top of the stairs once you get above ground, do everyone a favor and wait the extra 15 seconds to when there still isn't a crowd behind you. Someone will thank you for it.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Wear a backpack

This isn't the Appalachian Trail. I don't even know why you have an EMS bag if you live in the city -- going rappelling soon? -- but if you insist on wearing one, complete with a Nalgene bottle stuffed in a side pouch, stay above ground. Those containers are indestructible, and they hurt when you turn around and smack people in the arm with them.

I sometimes carry a backpack on the subway, but I have the decency to take it off when I get on the train. Not everyone sees this reverse pregnancy as a problem. Just take it off and put it between your legs. Not difficult. Otherwise, you start knocking newspapers and books out of everyone's hands. Besides, wearing a backpack makes you the spacial equivalent of someone 50 pounds heavier. There are enough natural fat people on the subway. We don't need any artificial ones.

Use a rolling bag

This is not the time or the place to go on a rant about rolling bags. I happen to not like them. Chances are if you are under 60, not in a wheelchair and can't lift what you are carrying, you are taking too much stuff with you. This article sums it up pretty well.

I will stipulate that rolling bags have their purposes when traveling by aeroplane. (Even though that's horseshit.) But there is no justification for rolling them around the subway. If you want to roll them through airports, fine. But as long as you're in the system, pretend it doesn't have wheels.

It's just too crowded. You can't carry it the 10 feet from your seat to the platform? It has to be rolled off? Really? If you can't muster the energy to lift instead of rolling, you don't deserve to be going on vacation. And if you are going on a business trip, I can't imagine your boss is too pleased with your productivity.

Yet people still do this. They don't account for the bag rolling behind them. They look straight ahead without a care in the world. Think of those idiot drivers who slap a trailer with some obnoxious boat on their car despite not knowing how to drive with it. They almost kill you when changing lanes. It happened to my parents once and the left side of their car looked like the Ford Explorers in Jurassic Park (sans lamb leg.) Obviously the bags are a less dangerous hazard, but they still hurt when you run over my foot.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Not move from in front of the door after boarding

Your job is not done when you board the train. Too many times have I seen a person dash onto a train, flash that smug smirk of satisfaction that says, "I made it. I am on the 4 train!" and breathe a sigh of relief. A half-second later this self-absorbed rider is being pushed from behind as more people try to replicate his amazing feat. Despite oodles of real estate in the middle of the car, the dasher stays where he is, hoping for an easy exit or perhaps not aware that the floor is just as solid six feet away from the door as it is two feet away. Because of his ignorance, two or three people are left to wait for the next train as they see right through the car where the original rider should be standing.

This is no good. Until they incorporate moats, subway doors do not need gatekeepers. If you're worried about being able to get off at your stop, don't be. You will not be the only person to change trains at Grand Central. I CANNOT BELIEVE 12 PEOPLE ON ONE SUBWAY CAR ALSO COMMUTE BY METRO-NORTH. AND DURING RUSH HOUR TOO! WHAT ARE THE ODDS? If you want the door to lean on, wait until people have stopped getting on and claim your spot. That is still a dumb (and lazy) place to stand, however, as more people will try to get on at the next stop.

And if you do decide to block the door, do not compound matters by sighing in disgust as people politely say, "Excuse me" in their effort to get by you in to the relative comfort of the center of the car. Step aside, or, better, yet, go there yourself. You'll find it a lot less crowded anyway.

Wait until you get to the turnstile to take out your MetroCard

The day may come when the MTA decides to let everyone into the subway free of charge. But it is not this day. About one out of every three times I get on the subway, someone seems surprised either by the turnstile or the requirement that he or she must pay a fare. I suggest pulling out your wallet as you walk down the stairs. That gives you enough time to find your MetroCard and get it into proper swiping position. Wait until it is your turn to swipe and all of a sudden people are pushing and moaning and it is an ugly scene.