Riding on the Metro-oh-oh

I’ve been observing some quite peculiar behavior on the subway this past week. I’m not sure if it’s because of the visiting delegates and policiticans in town for the DNC, but these behaviors have prompted me to create the following Subway Etiquette: 101 (in no particular order):

* Do not board the subway car until people get off the train. Simple laws of physics should make it obvious that the subway car is much smaller than the subway platform…meaning that you will become an obstacle if you block the train’s exodus by trying to board the second the doors open. Let people off the crowded train onto the less crowded platform, then give boarding a shot. You’ll be impressed at how much easier it is.

*Take your book bag off your shoulders in a crowded subway car and either dangle it in front of you or leave it on the floor between your legs. When a bag is on your back it takes up the space of another person and, since your bag has no nerve endings, you’re more than likely unknowingly bumping it into the person behind you constantly.

*If you spill a beverage on the floor, notify the driver so that it can get mopped up before the spill spreads via narrow little rivers throughout the entire train. ESPECIALLY if this spill is coffee (hours old, dried-up coffee leaves the worst smell in a closed environment like that).

*Bathe. Especially in the hot and humid summers. If you don’t like deodorant/anti-perspirant, that’s fine. But for the sake of all those around you, at least shower.

*Don’t use excessive amounts of cologne. Once again, remember that this is an enclosed space crammed with people.

*Don’t use your cellphone. You are not that important….particularly to those people sharing the subway car with you. Unless you are confirming plans for somebody to meet you at your destination, please abstain from making calls. Trains are loud…and people on cell phones tend to yell into them when on the subway.

*Speaking of subway talk – observe the behaviors of those around you. I’ve noticed that in the morning, nobody on the train talks. It’s very quiet and peaceful. So, don’t strike up a loud conversation with the person next to you (or on a cell phone..see last item).

*If you’re using a trolley-style subway (Boston’s green-line, for example), move into the car. Don’t stand in the doorway stairs unless you know those doors won’t be opening until your stop. If the train is so crowded that it’s the only place you can fit, get off at each stop and stand on the platform to let people exit. Similarly, the trolleys seem to get more crowded than standard subway cars. Don’t try to squeeze into the train if the train is already packed. You’ll just keep getting the door shut on your arm/back/elbow/leg and you’ll delay the train.

*If you are confused or need directions, don’t ask somebody with a discman/MP-e player or somebody who is reading a book/newspaper. They obviously don’t want to be disturbed.

*If you have children or pets, be a repsonsible parent. I got on the orange-line on Tuesday and there was a boy (probably between 7-9 years old) laying across 5 or 6 seats sleeping….at rush hour. The train was packed and here was this little boy fast asleep. His mother was on the other side of the car and did nothing (actually, since the train was so crowded she couldn’t even see him anymore). I was half-hoping somebody would not be paying attention and sit on his face. Also, if your child or pet is afraid of the subway and cries, barks, howls then you should not bring him/her on the subway at rush hour. Practice at non-peak times so the child/pet can get used to the train and THEN bring him/her on the train at rush hour. In the mean-time, walk, take a cab, or drive.

*If you’re going to sit by the exit door, be prepared to give your seat up for the elderly, disabled or pregnant. Don’t pretend to fall asleep the second you see an older person enter the train.

*If you’re a subway performer, please keep the amplifier down to a reasonable level. All of the station surfaces are hard so reverberation is a factor to always consider. Also, somebody please put an end to that dreadful guy at the Harvard Square Station who plays R. Kelly karaoke every freaking day at rush hour. That’s not performing…that’s what you do drunk at a bar. Whatever happened to the good ole’ days when Jill Sobule and Tracy Chapman played the Boston subway system? Anyway, no matter what type of music you perform, at least maintain a revolving set list – variety is nice (once again, I’m talking to you R; Kelly).

*Most importantly….Don’t talk to me. EVER. I’m content listening to my music and reading my magazines/books. I’m not talking to you…please don’t talk to me.

I’m sure I’m missing some rules. But these are the basics. So any of you non-urban folks visiting the city, please abide by these simple (and logical) rules. In return, I promise to behave in your community, too.




  1. Comment by Erica on July 22, 2004 1:58 pm

    I have an additional one, a peeve that has bothered me enough to think of blogging it myself.

    When walking, especially on a crowded train platform or crowded/narrow sidewalk, for the love of all that’s holy, please at least occasionally look in the direction in which you are moving.

    Yes, even if you are currently engrossed in a thrilling novel or newspaper. Plus who walks and reads sat the same time regularly anyway? Look up, enjoy your surroundings, and glance at what or who you might be about to slam right into.

    Oh and also, this one always gets me… When walking with your sweetheart and/or child, please remember that two people holding hands often take up the entire width of a sidewalk. Please consider waiting for the lazy hand-holding stroll until a non-peak commute time, or occasionally looking behind you to see the mass of people waiting for a way around you, and stand single-file for a few seconds to let them by.

    Yay, it feels good to rant. If only the Globe would link to this list of yours…

  2. Comment by jeff on July 22, 2004 4:10 pm

    Do you think you could paste this list to every single T train in Boston? Of course then we’d have to assume that people would actually read it…

    The cell phone gets me – I want to grab it out of their hands and step on it.

  3. Comment by matt on July 22, 2004 11:08 pm

    I have said it so many times I almost am tired of repeating it, but the bottom line is that the T sucks ass. Public transit is not nice.

    I was meant for limos and drivers. I was meant for penthouses and finer things. I was never meant to be sandwhiched on to the green line in July with the heat blaring while a smelly homeless person rants about air planes. It is all just so very wrong.

    i will never board a subway again. it is taxis for me all the way! your post has made me turn a corner. …cross a bridge. …reach a new decision.

  4. Comment by Mery on July 23, 2005 2:25 am

    The text was good, but i stil cant find the play ipdates. looking for it dude.

  5. Comment by Peter Jackson on July 23, 2005 9:15 pm

    A heap of wheat, says the Song of Songs
    but I’ve never seen wheat in a pile 🙂
    did you like it?

  6. Comment by Richard Davis on July 24, 2005 10:59 pm

    Nice one, but what about der weg ? anywya, congrats from me.

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