Are New Yorkers A Bunch Of Rude Idiots Who Need Schooling?

I have a super long commute. Sometimes, when the Long Island Rail Road and New York subway systems are off kilter, my round trip takes upwards of 5 hours. I’m traveling with as many as 8 million rail commuters, and sometimes the crowded system looks like it. But early this year, the MTA launched a campaign that is cute, laughable and maybe even derisive of the New York sensibilities. One might say, the campaign suggests we’re all a bunch of rude, insensitive idiots and it is up to the MTA to school us!

The subways are subject to the same human habits and attitudes that make NYC unique. I was amused when I saw my first sign in the campaign.



The advisory was aimed at trying to stop this:


And then there are performances such as these:


So in a sense, advising people not to perform on the poles on a moving occupied subway car is a safety and liability issue. Posting a “do not pole dance” sign shifts liabilities to the amateur performers…. You were warned!


“Man spreading” is nearly impossible to stop on the subway. The bucket seats are only large enough to comfortably fit a skinny teenager without any outer garments. Add well clothed adults and the row of seats might  fit three fewer adults. But it’s brilliant to shift the responsibility of unrealistic seat design to guys with oversized junk and women with heavy handbags on their laps. So what could likely be net effect be “man-shaming?” If a guy fails to squash his nether-regions, would he be a commuting pariah? How far would this manspread-manshaming go?

Tom Hanks on Subway

You can read the details and comments from this London Evening Standard Showbiz tweet here.

In this case, I don’t think Tom Hanks is the problem. One could see there is no one clamoring for the seat next to him. You can click on the picture to go to the actual Twitter page and read the comments. But for my monthly Metrocard, Tom Hanks can recline on the bench all he wants provided star sightings of that caliber is part of the ride!


A subway commuter moving his  precious belongings midday on the #7 local to Queens

A subway commuter moving his precious belongings midday on the #7 local to Queens


In my decades of subway riding experience, I have never failed to yield my seat to a pregnant woman or disabled person. That’s just common courtesy, and also my choice. When I was a teen in the ‘60’s, I would surrender my seat randomly to a female passenger, my mother told me it was the polite thing to do. But then the women’s equality movement gained strength and rendering such courtesies became somewhat awkward.


I don’t know… I’d rather see someone putting on their makeup while riding mass transportation than to have them putting on makeup while driving. I haven’t seen the subway makeup artists but I’ve seen plenty of them driving on the streets and highways!


New Yorkers are constantly on the go and sometimes have to grab a bite where they can. It takes a strong constitution to chew gum on the trains let alone eat a sandwich! With the rats and trash one could understand why eating would be a problem. But in one case this happened  taking subway eating  and food preparation to a new level. I’m sorry I missed out on it!



There has been an ongoing courtesy campaign sometimes subtle, other times obvious. Campaigns appear  periodically and without fanfare. I guess it is okay to remind New Yorkers about those little things that would make the commute more pleasant. Final analysis, it is up to the individual commuter to decide how far he or she would go to make a personal contribution to the courtesy and sanity underground.

A vintage flyer urging subway etiquette

In New York, everything old is new again.


4 thoughts on “Are New Yorkers A Bunch Of Rude Idiots Who Need Schooling?

  1. I appreciate your comments about offering random women a seat. It is and was an awkward thing–well meant, but something I, at least, came to resent. And now I’ve reached the age where people sometimes offer me a seat not because I’m female but because I’m old. It’s as sweet as it is awkward, since I’m still able to stand and happy to do so.

    On the other hand, when my partner was having ankle trouble, I was very, very grateful when she was offered a seat. She needed it. And i’m happy to admit that there’s no way anyone looking at the two of us would know who needed a seat and who didn’t. So I’ve learned to say thanks, sit down, and feel like I’m stealing a seat from someone who may need it more.


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