New York City is a beautiful place; it is undoubtedly considered one of the greatest cities in the world. The exquisite lights, the magnificent sounds, the distinguished landmarks, the abundance of diverse human beings that can be found on any given street–it’s all pretty magical and stunning when you think about it. Some may say living in this fascinating city is a privilege. I’ve lived here my entire life, and I probably take it for granted. I am not in love with NYC- I’m always in a rush, walking fast, loathing tourists, and never looking up at skyscrapers or at beloved attractions. Every now and then, when the sun hits a building in the most perfect of ways, I remember where I live, and how I should be more appreciative.
But I know I have my reasons for the lack of praise I offer. Nothing is perfect, but New York has one gigantic, non-ignorable flaw that I simply cannot forgive. All it takes is a walk down some stairs, a decent into the hells that exist under the streets of this great city; a simple swipe of a metro card makes the glamour fade, bringing me back to reality. The horrible, rat-infested deathtrap that lingers below the busy streets filled with fast-walking feet, is the very reason why I loathe my daily life. Simply put: the New York City subway system drives me to the brink of insanity.
So may I present to you the absolute worst things that can happen to any innocent passenger while riding the subway. They’ll make you want to flee the Big Apple faster than you can say, “stand clear of the closing doors.”
“What time is it?” Time for me to slouch deeper into my seat, and pretend that I’m elsewhere. These infamous words undoubtedly queue the beginning of a dance performance, complete with outlandish moves and unsurely-placed flips. Let’s do the math: Tiny moving vehicle + an abundance of passengers + extreme flips = someone is getting kicked in the face. It’s a quite simple equation, actually.
Every time you step onto a subway platform or car, there is a huge probability that you will encounter a performance of some kind. Whether it is dancing, singing, or playing the Recorder, I don’t want to see or hear it. I’m sorry, that sounds cynical, but it’s just the truth. Sure, some performers are good, but I’ve never been moved by something I’ve seen/heard on a train. Call my a monster, but can’t we all just play the quiet game? Whoever talks first gets kicked off the car. Problem solved.
2. The “Crazies”:
When “30 Rock” character, Liz Lemon, dresses up like a crazy, old, cat-impregnated woman to get her fellow commuters to sit away from her, she had the right idea. Nobody wants to be confined in a small, inescapable space with a coo-coo clock, a nut-job, or a wackle-doodle-doo. Nobody! While I understand some deeper problems may be burdening these individuals, and it is in no way an invitation to point fingers and laugh, the whole situation makes for a very uncomfortable and awkward ride.
3. Seeing a rat on the platform:
These germ-infested vermin are a part of everyday city life, and most new Yorkers, especially commuters, are used to coexisting with these creatures. When spotting these rodents scurrying across the train tracks, when you are a standing on the platform, towering over them, it’s no big deal. But when an encounter occurs with these sneaky little things ON the platform, just inches away from your precious feet, you quite simply “lose your sh*t.” “HOW DID IT GET UP HERE?” my mind screams as I try to play it cool, while making a mad dash in the opposite direction at the same time. I’m sorry that I’m terrified of rats. Actually, I’m not sorry. Those who pass judgment on people running away from dirty rabies machines deserve no apologies.
4. When someone in your car is eating pungent food:
Full disclosure: I once ate a tuna salad wrap on a crowded train ride home; I was starving and the temptation of having my lunch on hand proved to be too tempting. Take this as a formal apology people of NYC! And while I did eat it, I couldn’t even enjoy one bite; I felt everyone’s eyes on me, and I’m pretty sure I started having nervous sweats about halfway through (I don’t work well under pressure). So please don’t eat gross smelly food on the train, and if you must, please feel very, very guilty about it.
5. When an express train starts running local:
You hop on an express train after a long day at work. You’re exhausted, but you know that express trains are your super fast best friends, and you’ll be home in no time, right? Right. Unless your train turns the dark side–the local side that is. When you hear the soul-crushing announcement, you undoubtedly die a little inside. But since you’re a tough New Yorker, you grin (or mumble curses under your breath) and bare it.
6. When delays occur:
Similar to the express-to-local act of betrayal, delayed trains can really put a damper on your day. You can wait and wait and wait, but you aren’t moving anywhere, anytime soon. I guess patience really is a virtue (one that I have yet to find).
7. When people blast their music:
Just because you are not currently in possession of a pair of headphones, does not mean you become the designated DJ for the entire train car. It’s beyond rude to play your music out loud, subjecting all those around you to listen to the filth that you love, because, let’s face it, people who think that it’s appropriate to do this, are not listening to classical tunes. So, excuse me while I shoot laser beams out of my eyes at you; if looks could kill, you’d most certainly be dead.
8. Public Displays of Affection:
Public Displays of Affection, or PDA, is never something you want to see. Nothing makes my eyes roll faster than seeing two lovers going at it. Whether they’re just sucking face, or exploring each other a bit further, the need to hold in my vomit is ever-present. As much as PDA is a universally cringe-inducing act, it is even less appealing when you are confined in a small space with the offenders. As cliché as the expression may be, “get a room!”
Whether it’s fighting with your significant other, a friend, or a stranger, seeing people brawling on the train makes me want to burst into a few versus of, “Why Can’t We Be Friends.” So just drop it; don’t pick fights with fellow passengers, and if you need to have an argument with your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé/spouse, take your indifferences behind closed doors. No one wants to hear your now seemingly unintelligent-self, rambling about whatever nonsense you feel is so important that the world must also hear it. Grow up and find some class.
10. When people fall asleep on you:
I don’t even want anyone talking to me while I’m trying to pretend that I’m not on the subway, so when someone falls asleep on me, I can assure you that I am not a happy camper. This happens all too often, and while I’m too passive a person to ever wake the Sleepy Sally up, I can assure you that I am putting all types of curses and spells on them, using my mind.
Exception: this past Halloween, a young girl dressed as Sleeping Beauty fell asleep on me on my way home from work, and presumably her way home from trick-or-treating (or kissing princes). Her mom looked at me in horror, but I reassured her it was fine. This was the only time I did not want to drop-kick someone who decided that my shoulder was their designated pillow (not only because she was a cutie, but also because the story was too perfect).
Lesson: 5-year-old girl dressed like a princess=yes. 40-year-old man who smells like body odor=no.
11. And most importantly…When the MTA “thanks you for your patience”:
Because let’s be honest, nobody has any anymore.
For some reason the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA, thinks that by constantly announcing their apologies to their clearly agitated passengers, everything will magically be more pleasant. Seriously, every time they mess up, the announcement comes on, and it managers to anger me even further. “Oh, we’ve been held at this station for ten minutes, but don’t worry the announcement thanked us for our patience, so now that means we somehow won’t be late for work,” said no one ever. I mean whatever, be polite as you want MTA, it will never stop me from frequenting the hashtag “#suckitMTA.”