1. Rush hour is basically the Running of the Bulls. Remember the scenes in Mean Girls when they all turned into wild animals? Multiply that by 1,000 and you have Penn Station at 5 PM. You’ll never really get used to this, but your chances of having a panic attack will decrease slightly each day. Look on the bright side – running to your train is a free workout every day!
2. Every man for himself. You’ll quickly learn that nobody believes in apologies while commuting. You’ll never hear a “sorry” from someone who pushes past you to get onto the train one millisecond before you. Don’t hold your breath for an apology and don’t feel obligated to return the favor. Being a decent person takes quiet determination.
3. You will get injured. Consider it one of the Top 10 Days of Your Life if nobody steps on your foot with a spiked heel, slams your head into the car doors, jabs their elbow and/or briefcase into your back, or knocks you over because they weren’t holding onto the handrail.
4. Life is full of disappointment. Few things are more soul crushing after a long day of work than running up to your train only to have the doors close right in your face. I have considered taking up prayer for the sole purpose of helping me get to my train on time. If there was an ancient Greek god called Commutus, his protection would be worth making a blood sacrifice.
5. Move your bag. There is a specific circle of Hell reserved for the people who take up a whole seat with their bags during rush hour. Are you really going to make me stand on my sore feet for an hour so your Dooney & Bourke nylon tote can relax comfortably? There’s a reason for the bag hooks on the back of each seat. Or, you know, your lap.
6. The human race can be pretty revolting. You’re not a true commuter until you’ve seen a perfectly average businessman barrel into an old woman with a cane so he can get to a seat first. I understand chivalry is dead and men don’t give up their seats to women anymore. However, is a little common sense too much to ask? If you see a woman struggling with a baby, maybe you should forgo a round of Flappy Bird on your iPad so she can sit down instead.
7. Turn your music down. Speaking of games, never under any circumstances subject your fellow commuters to that horrible Candy Crush music at 7:30 AM. Turn the sound off your apps or just plug in your headphones. Seriously, they come with your iPhone for free. While the headphones are better than nothing, it is still common courtesy to not play your music loud enough for the person at the other end of the car to hear it. If you struggle to keep your music low enough then I suggest you look into a hearing aid.
8. People are gross. No girl in the history of commuting wants a big sweaty dude pressing the entire length of his body against her while the train rocks back and forth. This is gross on both an olfactory level and a sexual harassment level. If this happens to you, you will usually make eye contact with another woman shaking her head in understanding. This woman is your new ally. Watch out for each other when the train is delayed and things get really horrific.
9. Don’t believe the conductor’s lies. There is never “another empty train right behind this one.” Let the train pass if it’s really crowded and you can’t fit on, but don’t expect a magical empty train to show up on time.
10. Clinical. Strength. Deodorant. Other necessities you’ll want to invest in: hand sanitizer, an ID case for your tickets, comfortable shoes, a tote bag, an e-reader, and a prescription-strength dose of sanity.
11. Take a deep breath. You probably won’t be commuting forever and hopefully you’re making the trek for an awesome job. Find an activity that will distract you from how horrible the experience is. Stay calm and remember to take deep breaths when things get crazy. Just don’t breathe on the poor soul next to you.