Don’t Stand So Close To Me

Words by Megan Martin

If you live in New York, you ride the subways, and if you ride the subways, there’s a few things you should know…

They’re inconsistent. They’re always late. They slam the doors on you just when you think you’ve caught them. They’re loud when you have a headache and empty when you feel alone. And what about that asshole standing in the doorway when you’re trying to get off? They’re crowded, suffocating, overwhelming, irritating.

In lieu of the me issue, subways are just another place where New Yorkers are constantly irritated with one another. We all want room for our purses and space to drink our coffee and read our book, but guess what, it ain’t gonna happen. I’ve given and received more dirty looks on subways then at a CMJ concert. We’re all selfish assholes when it comes to taking a 30-minute train ride while some stranger is literally rubbing up against your ass. It sucks, so here are some rules to get by.

Seat etiquette:

Finding a seat on the train is a serious blessing. It doesn’t happen often, almost never during rush hour, and even when you see one opening up, shining and bare in all its glory, it’s like a five dollar bill in a restaurant—do I shove it in my pocket and smirk when I buy my next drink, or do I do the noble thing and give it up to someone who needs it, or, in the case of the five dollars, someone it belongs to. So on these crowded trains, either in the dead heat of summer or blistering freeze of winter, seats are like precious gold. But like the five dollar bill, there is always someone on a crowded train who needs it more than you.

Pregnant women are automatics, they need a seat and if you don’t give it to them, you’re a dick.

Old people are a little more dubious, I mean are they really old? How frail are they? I know they look tired, but this is New York City, we’re all tired. But you should usually give it up for them too.

People with canes or walkers, sometimes.

The “blind” guy who is maneuvering through crowds of people with the ease of a jungle cat, never.

People with tons of shopping bags or something overbearingly large, well we try to just leave them on the platform because they annoy everyone, sitting or standing.

Small children… questionable, but if the child is flailing and falling all over the place because their tiny, greasy little hands can’t hold onto the pole, I’d say give the little tike a seat.

Subway Romance:

This is another thing about New York that I find most people experience at one point or another. And it is what actually makes riding a train somewhat bearable. Weekly, if not daily or hourly, people are falling in love on the subway. That guy who is blaringly attractive, even in a comatose state at eight in the morning. Yeah, I love you. Or that posh business man in a suit and tie who would never go for a t-shirt and jeans girl like myself. Yeah, I love him, too.

Guys tell me it happens all the time. Girls are most fashionable in New York. And, like one friend once told me, when girls sit with their ankles crossed and their pursed propped ever so slightly on their lap, some guy is probably imagining the children you’d have together (or at least the process of making one).

So what are the rules to subway romance, as if rules and romance can ever go into the same sentence.

Gaze from afar, adoringly if you must. But unless someone is giving you incredibly clear signals, don’t approach them. They are probably going home to someone who doesn’t sweat as much as you on the subways. Regardless if it’s 197 degrees. Buy a hanky.

Keep it in your pants. You’d think this would be a given. It’s one of those things I wouldn’t have to mention if it didn’t already happen. I won’t go into details, but that’s not love. That’s a detainable offense.

Consider it a date. I go on four or five dates a day. Honestly, it’s better than some of the ones where I actually interact with the person. You sit across from each other, you catch each other staring once in awhile. You’ll never see each other again unless by chance. It’s like a one night stand with no guilt.

Men, give up your seat. If you do, it’s probably the most romantic thing that girl has experienced all day. If not all year.

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