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New York City Subway Etiquette

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We all understand in New York that cold weather makes people angry.  It is especially jarring after a warm, balmy tease of a weekend such as we had a week ago.  I myself have developed distinct frown lines from this current cold snap alone.  But, I understand, dropping temperatures are no excuse for bad manners.  In a town where you are more intimately physical than most people hope to ever get with someone they sleep with, it is no surprise that people put their guard up.  So, starting today I am beginning a campaign for the biggest freebie of them all'manners.  Etiquette is FREE.  It costs nothing to be courteous.

For instance: Just yesterday I witnessed someone '˜accidentally’ kick another person.  We were riding a train that must have been driven by a newbie.  Perhaps the new driver was being hazed.  I think maybe he was also blindfolded.  We jerked back and forth along in our close quarters.  I was lucky enough to be wedged-in between two large people so I was set to watch the action.  Needless to say, the train slammed on the brakes, legs flew and someone got nailed.  The kickee ended up rubbing her leg with the back of her other foot in a way that was sad and pathetic to watch.   The kicker looked back when she regained her balance as if to say, 'are you the person who came in the way of my flailing leg?'

My advice (not that you asked) to the kicker is simple'SAY YOU ARE SORRY.  It is so simple and yet so effective. Apologies are not just for the victims.  It also helps everyone who watches move on'because if I am any indication'some of us are still hanging on to this event'traumatized'is there a lawsuit in here somewhere?

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Another exercise in good etiquette is to offer your seat to others…

If I may be superior here for a minute.

I offer my seat to others all the time.  In fact, I maybe do it a little too often.  In my haste to be chivalrous I am aware that sometimes I seem to make the offer a little too loudly.  It ends up seeming like I am looking for credit…and let’s face it'I am!


A question while pondering etiquette'

What is the appropriate response when someone almost runs you over with their stroller?

I mean, we have all seen those moms (and sometimes dads) who strike out with their strollers in an insane way and then all but DARE you to bump into them'you wouldn’t hit a CHILD would you?  They fail to realize that it is they who are using a stroller as a WEAPON'.not always a weapon sometimes more of a plow'.if not a plow then that grate-y thing on the front of a train.  THAT is what they are like'that GRATE-Y THING. Yah.

Sometimes they precede the darting out in front of you with screaming, 'œExcuse us!'
I am sorry but screaming, 'œExcuse us' then running me over with your stroller does not translate to being polite.
I am always looking for help dealing with these complicated issues.

To be fair'.

Moms, I do NOT envy you your arduous journey through the city.  Geesh.  I have a panic attack when I see a crowded train simply because of the size of my BAG.  I can’t imagine what you must feel hauling around a small person.

Therefore, special props to'

Those moms who carry their stroller (with kid inside) up 45 stairs at the train station.  I am amazed you don’t trip.  I am amazed at your arm strength.  Don’t even get me started on women wrangling multiple kids'.WOW!

If women designed the subways there would be RAMPS.  Am I right?  Or at least an ELEVATOR?  SOMETHING?

Ok, pondering that has made me think that you can’t always be polite.  Sometimes you just need to get by.  Thanks for helping me work that out.

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Christine Witmer - Sparing Stringer

Christine Witmer - Sparing Stringer

Christine was born and raised in the land of the Pilgrims, Plymouth, Massachusetts. She turned in her buckled shoes when she moved to NYC to attend NYU. From that esteemed University she received her BFA in theatre as well as a Master's Degree in Performance Studies in 2004.
Now an actor, writer and broke ass day-jobber, Christine juggles her many personas with the elegance of a red panda. specifically the one in the Prospect Park Zoo . . . soooooo cute! She can be found most often in her own habitat on the Northside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.


  1. Alexei
    March 27, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    I would like to point out that the grate-y thing on the front of the train has a name– an excellent and descriptive name– a name that everyone should know: “cow catcher”.

  2. […] popular blogs and articles relishing–er–reprimanding rude and ridiculous habits of MTA & other transit passenger are even featured on the […]