Wednesday, October 27, 2010


This past Sunday. The New York Times dedicated an entire section to the challenges of traveling on our subway system.

In it, riders put their two dollars and twenty-five cents in. There were complaints about the subway door blocker, women finishing their toilette, the back packers, etc. There's just one problem, none of the above probably read a word of any of it.

If we wanted to, Yvette and I could blog every week about the lack of etiquette on trains and buses. They're fertile ground for poor, inconsiderate behavior. Yet there is the occasional show of civility. Yesterday, a man offered me a seat on The Times Square-Grand Central Shuttle. "He was a southerner," I pointed out to a colleague, as if being a southerner is a prerequisite for being a gentleman.

But this morning the harsh reality struck again, literally, as a woman's faux snake bag repeatedly hit a man in his stomach as she carried on a conversation with a woman whose Tory Burch was slamming another passenger in the gut. They didn't have a clue because for their own comfort they had relegated their bags to the spaces behind them.

When we're the receiver of someone else's baggage in our stomachs, we just say with a smile, "Excuse me, Miss, but could you move your bag around the other way?" Yvette didn't have such luck with a man with a backpack. When she asked him if he could remove it because the bus was so crowded, he suggested that maybe she needs to lose some weight. She weighs 103 pounds.

Our father is a retired bus driver. We don't like hearing people calling them names. "Asshole," a woman said to her husband. She was referring to the driver who wouldn't let them pay at the end of their ride. Their Metrocards were empty so they wanted to sit down and collect themselves and their monies and pay on their way out of the bus. There's a lot of nerve in transit.

Also, no need to roll your eyes at the bus driver when passengers are piling out of the front door and you're waiting in extreme heat, cold or pouring rains or sitting on the bus that's going nowhere fast. She/he or a recording more than likely advised everyone to exit through the back doors but there's something about getting off in the front even if you're sitting in the back that people prefer. It feels homier? Or maybe  nobody cares because they've arrived at their destination and too bad if you have to wait. (We are not talking about the physically challenged or overloaded mother.)

There is good news. People are asking kindly for cell phone talkers to lower their voices. That one man offered me a seat. A nanny put a toddler on her lap so an elderly person could sit. And a disheveled man said, "Good morning," to me as he scratched his feet. I smiled back. We're getting there.


Anonymous said...

another view

you know...and you can put this on your blog.....i also think there's another side to this....
it's the way that you ask people....." i feel even if my umbrella bag backpack or whatever is
poking you and i'm oblivious to it....yes you need to say something....but's much kinder
i think to say...." excuse me..i'm sorry...i keep hitting your bag..maybe if i" generally they
will say ..oh i'm sorry let what ever to the offending piuece...
however if you say" can you move this..or take this off the bus is crowded..." it makes me upset...
even's like who are you to tell me what to wear or how to wear it....
it is even an unwritten subtext that i am purposely being rude.... maybe i am being thoughtless....
but would do anything not to be in anyone's if you're not polite in asking me...i will not
necessarily be polite in responding

Anonymous said...

Yvonne, Went to a party Satuday night. Two different people bought up the subject with me independently. I told them to check out your site. I think you have hit a nerve, really