First off, please remember, Metro is mass transit. It’s not your limo, your Mini, your chauffeur. It’s a train everyone else is riding at the same exact time as you. We’re all busy. We’re all stressed. Some people may even be in a hurry and stressed about things that are more important than the things that you are in a hurry and stressed about. Just think about that for a moment, Mr. or Ms. Type A personality.
Your coat, laptop, and briefcase do not deserve a seat of their own. Nor does your luggage. Especially during rush hour. If you have a lot of stuff, consider making a friend who can pick you up from wherever. Or take a cab. You and thirteen Macy’s bags (or your drycleaning, a bird cage, and a cat carrier) really don’t fit on the subway system during rush hour.
If you want to sit on the aisle seat, great, but be darn ready to offer the window seat and if the person is getting off at an earlier stop than you are, well, be read to rise and let that person depart.
If you are a man who has to spread out (legs, arms, whatever) stop and think, especially if the person you are sitting next to is a pretty young female:* think of the most unattractive man you see on the train. Think of your most vulnerable and defenseless young female relative. Would you want that man placing his body they way you are placing yours? If the answer is no, I don’t care how long your limbs are,* I don’t care how much you want to brush up against her, don’t. Just don’t, okay?
Eating and drinking: don’t do it. I don’t want to smell your MacDonald’s breath of incipient heart attack, I don’t want your hot coffee spilling on me, and I don’t want to sit on anything you’ve spilled.
Control your I-pod. I’m not quite getting why these gizmos are such a big hit, but they seem to involve more movements of cord and string than me knitting a sweater. Also, make sure the earphones really do limit sounds to just your ears. I had the ultimate horror of being seated next to someone listening to Barry Manilow’s oevre. This was a bad ride.
And look, if you sit in the handicapped seats or any seat near the door you really have an obligation to stand for a blind person, a pregnant woman, someone on crutches. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. And don’t say “You can have my seat.” Say: “Here’s a free seat.” Yeah, I know you’re busy and important. But stay alert. And if someone who doesn’t look handicapped says they need a handicapped seat, don’t say “Why?” Assume the handicap is invisible (like MS, or need of a lung transplant) and be a mensch.
If you must stand by the doors, then clear a way for people to exit. Do not stand right in the middle and look affronted as people push by you trying to get to work or home to their babysitters on time.
In short: remember, it’s not your personal all-about-you transportation. It’s mass transit. There should be a social compact — we won’t deafen or blind each other, or subject the whole subway car to our tacky perfume, and the rest won’t do it to us either. Please.
*If that’s the issue, try standing. You’ll be one of the lucky ones who can reach the overhead pole.