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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Notes from the Underground

Yesterday, I went on the subway ride from hell. I was trying to get from Park Slope to Greenpoint. Usually you take the F toward Manhattan and transfer to the G. Simple.

I got on at 7th Avenue. Of course there were no signs posted on the platform and no announcements on the train. Suddenly the train went express, skipping several stops. I get out at the next opportunity at Jay Street, which is near the Brooklyn Bridge. Thinking the F was messed up, I change direction on the F to get out at Carroll Street to catch the G.

But no, the G was messed up, too. The regular trip would have taken two trains. Because they were doing construction, the new trip would have taken four trains.

But since I’d missed the memo about said construction, my trip took seven trains. Seven trains, transfers, marching up and down stairs, walking across the platform, waiting, etc. Seven trains and two hours, all because I had paid my two bucks and I wasn't going to pay any more to go from here to there.

If I'd been more ambitious, I could have stayed a bit and rode all the subways on my fare. There's actually has a name for it, and it's called the Subway Challenge. Why anyone would want to do this is beyond me.

The rules of thumb about the subway are simple. They should make a list in all the tourist guides and subway stations, just so we’re all clear:

1. If there are signs posted on the platform, look at them. Chances are, the trains are messed up.

2. Never get off a train and jump onto another train unless you know what train you’re jumping on to.

3. Never, in the heat of the summer, get into the car that looks empty. There's a reason for it. Either there’s no a/c or a smelly guy or something else wrong.

4. Never fail to understand English because you will be at a sad disadvantage. You will miss announcements and wind up in Coney Island.

5. Never use your outside voice, unless you want everyone to know you’re not from here. Plus, the rest of us are trying to get some sleep.

6. Never go during rush hour unless you have to. Why put yourself through that?

7. Never sit in front of the subway map, unless you want strangers to be on intimate terms with the part in your hair.

8. Never just stand there at the doors inside the train. It cuts down traffic by half.

9. Never put your feet up on the seats. You could be fined fifty bucks.

10. Never take the 6 train at Union Square unless you never want to hear anything again.

I’m sure I’ve missed a couple.

For more lists by crotchety New Yorkers, look here, or here.
For the actual rules, click here.

Photo by Henry Roxas. For more great images, click here.


Columbia said...

Brilliant. I wanted to post about (#3) the "empty car" rule for a while, but you really hit the nail on the head with the whole list.

Union Square warning is very true too. DW shakes her head at me, but I am one of the few NYC ear-coverers. Hey, you gotta respect the temple. :)

I admit that I am a door stander, but I always get out completely at a stop. To my defense, my morning commute to LIC takes three trains, and no ride is longer than 3 stops.

I become livid at the human door-frames, especially during rush hour. Can people really be that inconsiderate??

kitty said...

I dunno how people can NOT cover their ears in that station. It is unbearable. I am in your club!

I stand by the door, too, sometimes, but if it's rush hour will get out and get back in. Your situation sounds fine to the subway police! You pass!

People can be very discourteous here, and just ignorant. I forgot to add the people who get up to the top of the stairs from the stations and stand there.

I have the urge, sometimes, to slap their behinds. :-)

Mary Hilton said...

As a new to New York New Yorker, I'm always amazed when my subway car turns into an express and I wind up in the Bronx. I'm still learning the nuances of subway riding so thanks for the post -- good advice.

I. M. Bitter said...

Sorry about your epic ride! Glad you finally made it. The think that always kills me is how much time it took. Two hours, to go what, a half a mile? Crazy!

kitty said...

haha, thanks for listening to my kvetching, ladies.

I generally like the MTA okay, but it's hard to believe this is the subway of New York, a first-world hub in the 21st century. We should look toward London and Hong Kong!

I. M. Bitter said...

Note to self: Turn internal spell-checker and proofreader on before typing comments onto anyone's blog. lol

DC has a pretty nice metro system, Clean and well lit...

Everytime I think of those metro cars in our NYC subways, I realize they wouldn't last a moment. I think the grunge and dirt of the subway will always be with us.

Dane cook said...

Yeah i dont think a subway ride in nyc will ever be a great experience but always interesting...

kitty said...

thanks for visiting dane!

there are a few happy subway stories that should be noted. That would make a great post.


Andrea said...

London's underground system is probably the politest in the world. It is still hugely overcrowded, but we have announcements about everything and people are generally very courteous when it comes to letting people on and off the trains. Although we do also get the odd door-framers...