The Lows of Public Transportation

My first car was a 1988 Oldsmobile the size of a large boat, with an all-leather interior (an absolute delight in summer) and nonexistent air conditioning. Her name was Billy-Sue, and she served me well until one day she didn’t, and decided to die in the middle of an intersection.

Fernando, my 2006 Dodge Neon, was an absolute treasure until I had to hand him over to my siblings. Now the speakers are blown out, one of the doors won’t open, and he doesn’t always like to start.

Moving to the east coast meant no more driving, which was simultaneously a joy and my very own personal hell. Subways are one of the best places for people watching, and I’ve gotten so much fodder for my writing it isn’t even funny. But along with the crazy outfits and obscenely loud conversations comes the delays, service changes, and cars with failed air conditioning compounded by a homeless man who hasn’t showered in weeks.

When I lived in D.C., I had to take a bus and two trains to get to work. It took close to an hour and a half to get there. When I first moved to New York, my commute was roughly an hour (and that was on a good day, meaning the G actually showed up — a rare occurrence). These days it’s closer to 25 minutes door-to-door, and considering the idiots who speed up and down Broadway completely ignorant of stoplights, it’s probably for the best that I no longer have a car. My road rage couldn’t handle a city like this.

Instead, my rage has been directed toward the MTA and its lovely riders. Many excellent articles have been written detailing the finer points of subway etiquette, but it seems that the people who should really read them have not.

Like the woman who chose to SIT ON ME last week. I sometimes think I’m invisible on the train, in that I’ve been pushed and shoved and kicked and groped more times than I can count. But there are 124 blocks between my house and my place of employment, and if I don’t have to stand, I’d rather not. I’ve been sat on before, but I think that time was actually an accident. Last week’s occurrence was not. A woman in her mid-30s, perfectly capable of standing, simply decided to sit on me. And when I looked surprised at finding a stranger in my lap, she simply remained there and said, “Oh. I thought you were going to get up.”

And yet we were still 75 blocks from my station, with no stops along the way, in a car ready to burst at the seams. Where could I have even gone?

But it was a million degrees in that car, and I’d rather not have a stranger’s sweat drip on me for 20 minutes. So eventually I slid out from under her and proceeded to glare at the woman for as long as possible.

Sometimes I just don’t understand people.

But my favorite has to be the silent challenge that has developed between me and two other people who get on at my stop in the mornings. Curly Hair is a, how shall I put this?, rotund middle-aged woman, and Gray Hair is a tall, thin man probably in his 50’s. Together they have become my arch nemeses.

Why? you ask. What could possibly be so bad about Curly and Gray?

I despise them because of the unspoken game (which is really more of a fight) that has developed over the last few months.

Let me explain.

When I first moved into my apartment last August, I took the time to figure out where I needed to stand on the subway platform so that I was exactly where the doors opened. Loads of people do this — it is not a crime. It’s common sense. But eventually Curly and Gray caught on and would try to beat me (and each other) to my spot each morning. Even if I managed to get there first, one or both of them would sneak past me in order to get into the car first. I’ve been physically shoved on a few occasions. I had coffee spilled on me once and I’m pretty sure Gray did it on purpose because I nabbed the last available seat that wasn’t occupied by some asshole’s lunchbox.

It’s things like this that make me lose faith in humanity. People are so desperate and/or lazy that they resort to being dicks. Do you really need to shove someone to get on a train first? Or sit on them?

No.

Public transportation gets a big middle finger from me this week.

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