Subway Etiquette

It’s National Etiquette Week. Gothamist has been posting some really great, really should be common sense, posts about how to not be a jerk in New York. My favorite so far is their 7 Deadliest Etiquette Sins to Commit on the Subway. All of these subway habits are the worst and completely inconsiderate to your fellow straphangers. Especially pole-hugging. Sometimes to deal with pole huggers, I’ll still hold onto while they’re leaning against it, hoping they’ll get the hint. They don’t usually, and then I’m just stuck with my hand behind the curve in a stranger’s neck until a better pole opens up. Here are a few of my own additions to the subway sin list:

Eating smelly food:

Gothamist’s list touched on this a bit, and they seem to be for a complete food on the subway ban. As a person with weird blood sugar, I’m cool with occasional subway eating is fine. Sometimes you’re in a hurry, and you need to jam half a bagel down your throat so you don’t bonk on the way to work. Emergency snacks like granola bars, cracker snack packs, these foods are fine. But if it’s food with an odor that will waft through the whole car, that will splatter your seat neighbor in any way, or that requires utensils or condiments, don’t eat it on the train. My least favorite subway food of others used to be McDonald’s, because it just smells like disappointment and angioplasty, but it’s been replaced with hard-boiled eggs. They’re the eggiest smelling variety of egg food, and they’re the last thing I want to smell in an enclosed space with no air circulation.

Taking too much ball room:

This is a sub-category of seat hogging, and men are the main offenders. No one has big enough balls that require sitting with their legs at a ninety-degree angle to be comfortable. When you sit spread eagle, you’re just being an asshole who’s taking up seat space for two people. The best way to deal with this is walk up to the seat and say, “Excuse me, can I sit?” and most people move. Then other times, they move just enough but keep their  legs spread out so far that I feel like I’m back on a family car trip in the backseat of a Volkswagen crammed between my two sisters. The only difference being my seat neighbors never call me “football shoulders” like my sisters did. I’d like say the sitting with your legs gaping open is something only men do, but more and more women are doing it. Part of me is like, fuck yeah ladies you take up that space, but most of me is just mad at them because I want to sit down.

Game noises without headphones:

I’m so glad you have Bejeweled to keep you entertained on your long commute. Do you really need to hear the sound of the swishing of jewels? If you do, I still don’t. Put the headphones on. Also, you know that’s not the sound jewels make in real life, right? They’re fancy rocks. They’d just clang together and sound like…rocks. Oh, and if you’re wearing headphones, I shouldn’t hear any noise coming out of them. Turning them up that loud defeats the purpose of keeping sounds to yourself.


Hey giggling teenager, you seem lucky to have such a hilarious boyfriend, who makes you giggle so much that you’re dropping the lettuce from your McDonald’s sandwich on the ground. But that does not make it okay to lean over the seat railing and hold your sandwich over some else’s head. Also, guy next to me, don’t read over my shoulder. Get your own book.

Not holding onto anything:

The train is bumpy, jerky and unpredictable. Hold onto something! Don’t stand there trying to keep your balance and look cool. You look like a tool with unnatural posture when you try. There was one morning a few months ago when this guy wasn’t holding onto anything and he fell into me. He laughed and picked himself up. Then he fell again because he didn’t hold anything. He looked and me and laughed again and I said, “You know, there’s a pole you can hold onto.” (Everyone says he was trying to hit on me. I say no, because he seemed to be an adult wearing a suit and not a child on a playground throwing sand).