The daily slog on public transit is a battlefield. Tensions are often higher than a presidential debate, but throw a wrench into the gears (or a tree branch onto the tracks) with any “severe delay,” and add in one or more of the below faux pas, and we're all at risk for a confrontation of Alec Baldwin proportions.
In the station…
1) Ignoring the platform lines and cutting to the front just as the train arrives. And doing this all so you could get a seat.
2) On the escalator, screaming at somebody who isn't aware of the “stand to the right rule” as if you're in the third class lower deck of the Titanic and you only have sixty seconds before drowning to death. If you're in such a hurry, a humanitarian “excuse me” would do just fine or you could, you know, wait the sixty seconds and ride to the end.
When it comes to seating…
3) Being too lazy to stand with your bike in the designated area, and instead, taking a seat and leaning your ride across two rows of seats, effectively blocking off 3 empty seats, and not budging even after elderly bag lady asked if she could sit down.
4) Stacking your luggage on the seats or blocking the aisle, and scoffing when people ask if you can move them.
5) Sitting in the handicap seats coding on your Macbook when there's a handful of people who need to sit down more than you (like pregnant women, seniors, and maybe the guy with the limp holding the sign that says “injured vet, please help”).
6) Jaws-of-life-ing your way into a car more packed like a Tokyo bullet train even though the conductor is sternly telling you to “stand clear of the doors,” and because you're causing a system-wide delay, everyone's forced to jam in even further so the train can take off. You may have obligations waiting at the end of your commute but I highly doubt you're trying to diffuse or escape a life-threatening emergency. Stealing a line from Freaks and Geeks, “this isn't the last chopper out of 'Nam.” You can wait a few minutes for the next train.
On the train, hear, see, smell, and feel no evil…
7) Clipping your finger and/or toenails while not only pelting everyone with your trimmings, but doing it while sitting in a handicap seat when it's clear you don't need to sit down for any reason other than to clip your toenails.
8) Shooting up. We know it's not insulin because you're doing it into your arm and not your stomach. What's worse than being on edge because we see a woman trying to apply eyeliner pencil in the jostling train going through the Transbay Tube? Being on edge because we don't want to see you yank out a vein when the train lurches.
9) Eating a pizza (notice I didn't say “a slice?”), bucket of fried chicken, Cup Noodles, or anything with a pungent greasy smell. On a hot day in a car jammed to capacity, your food only adds to the handful of other stenches broiling together in the Easy-Bake Oven of a car.
10) Puking (or spilling a vente Frappuccino on last Tuesday's SFO line—THANK YOU) and forcing everyone to endure the sight and stench of your slop slinking back and forth the length of the train. Maybe you had Norovirus and couldn't help spewing, we've all been there, but notify the train operator so someone can take care of it at the next station. And if you really did have Norovirus, it might have been humanitarian to steer clear of a densely populated space where others had to breathe the same C02 as you.
11) Playing Candy Crush or Farmville at full volume. Trying out every single ringtone on your phone until you find the one you like, again, at full volume. Taking and a conference call wherein you belt out some fairly confidential details about your company at a sport commentator's volume. Rolling into the train with a baby stroller cradling a boom box blasting something atrocious like rap metal.
12) Groping. Just don't. You can go down for sexual assault and have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life.
In closing, the next time you head out the door for your commute, remember we're all trying to accomplish the same thing: arrive at a desired destination safely and on time. Recall the internet meme about how “everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about,” and you really don't want to get on the last nerve of someone who just had the day from hell. You may end up staring down the wrath (and/or gun barrel) of Michael Douglas in Falling Down:
See you on the train.
All rights reserved.
I've ridden my share of commuter trains in multiple major metropolitans. During those rides, I_have_witnessed_it_all. Here are some pointers on how to end up the most hated person on the train.