March 12, 2009

Don't make me come over there.

As anyone who’s taken public transportation knows, normal etiquette rules go out the window when you're crammed on the bus or subway with 50 others. (Under regular circumstances, it’s always best to keep your head out of someone’s armpit, and, really there’s no reason to ever have your leg touching someone you don’t know.) There are, however, some basic rules that too often get ignored, and can result in pointed scowls, passive aggressive elbows, and loud 'Dude, are you KIDDING?' exclamations. Want to avoid these? Let me share some Public Transportation Best Practices:
  • Greet your driver. This isn’t always possible, but if it is, a simple smile and hello goes along way. You'll be surprised by how often, and how pleasantly, they'll say it back, and your whole ride will be better.
  • Move to the back. When only the front doors of a subway car or bus opens, people tend to congregate in the front. There is more space in the back. And – guess what – there are exit doors back there too! Go!
  • Act your age. This means that if you are 20 years old and healthy, your seat belongs to someone else. Do not stare at the ground, pretend to be engrossed in a book, or feign sleeping while someone with a cane, limp, guide dog or gray hair tries to hold onto the pole and remain upright. Seriously. Come on,. dude.
  • Don’t stand in front of a door. I know it looks like the perfect place to stand, what with all that space and all, but you’re just creating a hazard. If you must stand there (and I’m a realistic person, I know there’s no choice a lot of the time) – MOVE to let people exit. Do not just stand there, with 3 inches of space in front of you and a blank look on your face as people try to get out.
  • No, really. Move away from the door. This is especially important on the bus. Bus doors open IN when they open. You should ONLY choose to stand here if there is no one else there, because those doors that open in? They force anyone standing in that area to step forward out of there way. When there are two people sharing that space, all exit pathways are effectively eliminated. If you’re standing there, you’re going to get karate chopped in the arm, either by the mechanical doors, or by the angry exiting people. It’s going to hurt, and you’re going to deserve it.
  • Seats are made for people, not your laptop bag (or your gym bag or your extra purse).
  • Stay put. You know how when you’re crammed in next to someone on a seat during a crowded part of the route, and then a dozen people get off, and there’s an open set of seats across from you? Don’t switch seats. You might think you’re doing everyone a favor. You’re not, you are being rude. You may not have realized it, but you entered into a relationship when you selected the seat you did – Regardless of better opportunities, you are committed to sitting next to that person until death do you part. Or, until one of your stops, whichever comes first.
  • You are what you own. At least on public transportation. Everything attached to your body is your responsibility to keep under control on the subway or bus. Don’t just pretend like your backpack isn’t sticking 12 inches out, right into someone’s face.
My last point isn’t so much a best practice, so let’s just go ahead and un-bullet this.

Let’s get another thing straight. The subway is not “better” than the bus. The bus is not scary and it’s not sketchy. It is convenient, and allows you access to places beyond the regimented world of rails. You can almost always get a seat on the bus. Not to mention the fact that the bus is cheaper than the subway and runs on an actual schedule. And if you’re still not convinced, think about it this way: The bus can take you to malls unreachable by subway (Did someone say Forever 21 in Watertown?). Don’t tell you you’re scared of the bus, or that you don’t “do” it. I hate that.

Whether or not you're a public transportation frequenter, I'm sure you have your own opinions on these matters. Feel free to chime in - advice on how to avoid any passive aggressive body part jab is always appreciated.

1 comments:

aimee said...

Ashley, I took the 66 to the 70 (or is it the 71?) last weekend to go to the very mall in Watertown you mentioned...of course, it was for Gap Outlet and not Forever 21, but let's not split hairs...and the journey was pleasant.