Wait, I’m Sorry. This Is New York, Right?

A challenge to all New Yorkers: Don’t leave me hanging next time.

On my way home from work yesterday, the 6 train was running significantly late for the fourth weekday in a row, rush hour. Folks were standing five or six deep on the length of the platform, all waiting for the same train. We commuters, all of us with more important things to do than the next guy, we wait. We all wait for the same train. When the train pulls into the station, we jockey for position. We mentally draft a game plan, the most effective and probable route to a seat or a spacious place to grip a pole. The doors open, hundreds of conflicting game plans launch simultaneously.

When I board a crowded subway car, I instinctively mesh. I innately find a fair and respectable balance between myself and those around me who might be in greater need than myself in respect to who gets the seat or the good grip on the pole or whatever. As I am an able bodied young man, my consideration usually leads to me standing in the middle of the subway car, holding on to the ceiling. This paragraph is meant to give the reader the impression that I am a commuter of flawless mass transit etiquette. You will never catch me on the left side of a staircase. Bet.

Today, as I mentioned, the 6 Train platform was loaded. When the train arrived, a gentleman who was right in front of me on the platform, he stepped onto the train wearing a gigantic backpack. There were people behind us asking if we could move in “just an inch or two”, so they could get on. Not a chance; the doors closed and the train moved out of the station. This guy, the one wearing the backpack, I say to him, four inches behind his ear, “Hey buddy, you should take off your backpack when the train is crowded, it’s common courtesy. I mean, a whole person could fit in the space your backpack takes up.”

At that moment, I waited for a roaring applause from the whole train. I pictured girls throwing their bras at me, people lifting me up on their shoulders and singing impromptu songs which revere me as a deity or maybe just “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow”, whatever, I’m not picky about the songs.

Nothing of the sort took place.

Instead, I was met with a terribly awkward silence accompanied by several people looking at me with stunned expressions on their faces.

This is not the first time that I have taken action upon a situation in which every observer and bystander was thinking of taking the same action, but didn’t have the courage. Then, when I actually do take the initiative, these same people, the people who are thinking the same thing I am, they become fearful of me for taking the action they wish they would have taken. Here, in a bizarre twist, the offender suddenly becomes the victim. I don’t get it.

Dear New Yorkers:

Next time I speak up for what is right and decent, do me a favor.

Don’t be a pussy.

Thanks in advance,



9 Responses

  1. Ryan, if I’d had been on that train with you, you’d at least have gotten a hearty “Thank you!”

    Ah well, here’s a virtual pat on the back for ya! At least you said something!

  2. @Todd: Much appreciated. I’ll take a hearty “thank you” any day.

  3. Wow — that’s nutty. Then again, I aspire to be Wonder Woman on a daily basis and am miffed when the rest of the world fails to appreciate my striving toward justice. :)

  4. I’m thinking of starting a new thing where I give helpful advice to one person each day. (for example, that shirt is really not flattering on you. Have you thought about v-necks?) I think it would go over at least as well as your subway advice.

  5. @ALH: I, for one, completely support your quest for superherodom.

    @brooklyn gal: Are trying to say something about my crew-necks?

  6. ryan…. woot.

    a simple word, but, it conveys so much.

    (my ideas to mta are ignored, too…. like paint a frigging line to show where the first five cars are ending for the 1… and to hire me to announce over the turnstiles, “SWIPE N’ GO!!! SWIPE N’ GO!!!)

  7. BG: Let’s start a club! My grandfather could be the CEO. He’s really quite good at yelling at random strangers.

    He’s my hero.

  8. Bravo, Ryan! If I was on the train I would have started clapping. A similar situation happened to me once on the LIRR. It was late at night and the train was quiet except for one man chatting LOUDLY on his cell. When I got up to leave the train I passed him and said something like,” Thanks for talking the entire time really loudly on your phone. We all REALLY appreciated it.” After that I walked away and the onslaught began. Apparently others were thinking the same thing because one particularly large guy got up and started shouting at this guy too. They should teach a class about public transportation etiquette in high school.

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