I’m so happy to be able to document my first warm-fuzzy moment today. I was prepared to see lots of grumpy bus riders since the weather was terrible, and perhaps because he also expected this, the driver of the evening M23 Crosstown was jovial and charming and stopped all gripes in their tracks. He often announces that “excuse me” is the magic phrase for moving to the back of the bus when it’s extremely crowded, but this evening he must have sensed the bad karma brewing because he said “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a VIP section for the very important people, and it’s right up the stairs in the back of the bus. We are serving water…apple juice…and fruit punch.” A little girl asked her father, “Not really, right daddy?” as she looked around to make sure she wasn’t the only one who’d missed out on the free drink. It was so freaking heart-warming that we all laughed, and the tension of the women with ruined blowouts and the haggard parents returning with children from the Chelsea Piers was diffused. Only one little old man who was stuck standing in the accordion-like middle section of the bus was unmoved, but he was hanging on for dear life as other passengers dipped under his arm to pass him (no, no one offered their seat…but I don’t want to sully the positivity of this moment by addressing that). I wanted to give his protective bulletproof cocoon a hug.
The case that I hear made for most rudeness in NYC is that people are tuned out and just don’t notice they’re doing anything inconveniencing. My husband, who is the most well-meaning person I know, uses this explanation for the ten or so daily times when he is a little oafish (and I accept it with a smile because he is an amazing cook and doesn’t even hate me for NEVER doing the dishes). But the problem with saying “Oops, I didn’t notice” is that it forces those of us who DO notice to pick up all the slack. The guy on the bus wearing headphones while reading his Kindle is obviously not going to hear the driver say “Move to the back,” nor is he going to see the crowd waiting down the block to board at the next stop, so he can’t be blamed for standing in the middle and blocking traffic, right? What’s the difference between an hour-long or 55-minute ride crosstown, right? Grrr.
The worst form of oblivious rudeness, in my opinion, is seat obstruction. There are days when I still have pep in my step despite having walked an average of eight miles, and I’ll happily stand and let the fatigued grab seats. But most days I’m beat, and while I will NEVER push past exiting passengers to slam my ass down before anyone else’s (nothing is more primal than watching women wearing Louboutins racing for relief at rush hour), I will sit on any bag taking up a seat. I have done this several times. Why not request that the person move his or her imposing item, you might ask? Because I don’t do it. I can’t imagine flopping my things down and remaining unaware, throughout an increasingly crowded train ride, that I’m preventing others from being comfortable, so I expect all those who have not been frontally lobotomized to move their belongings accordingly. Rainy days are THE WORST for this, because no one wants to set their things on the wet floor…but inclement weather’s uncanny ability to turn the asshole knob way up on New Yorkers is another story entirely.
I became so tired of crushing RayBans that I whipped up this T during a particularly rainy and miserable week. Everyone was confused by the insertion of the H into SIT (I’m trying to be kid-friendly!), so I’ll make that clearer when I have it professionally printed. But some male models doing a Michael Kors shoot got it and loved it, and that’s enough for me!
At least that’s how you seem to this Midwestern transplant. Maybe it just feels that way because the odds of encountering antagonism go up with the population…or maybe it’s because living in New York long enough gives you a snake’s tongue and an elephant’s skin, no matter how nice you originally were…either way, I can’t take it any more! But I can’t move. My livelihood is inevitably here, as is my husband’s, since we’re musicians. So what’s left to do but wear specially printed, passive-aggressive T-shirts (check!) and blog about discourtesy? Less obsessive people could surely come up with alternatives…
As long as I’m forced to take the train with men who think their junk deserves its own seat, I’m damned well going to write about it. I’m not going to shrug it off and self-therapize by picturing them with E.D. My feet hurt (they always do, I’m a dog walker by day), and no one’s penis…or bag…or undeserved ego…is going to get away with making me stand on them for 20 stops without a fight! And my fight consists of sitting on my couch and ranting. I hear that’s how things are done these days, and if I’m wrong, then you’re not reading this.
But if I’m right and you are, then maybe you’re just as fed up with inhumane humans in this city, and maybe you’ll comment and reinforce – or challenge – my positions. My goal is to document every social snafu I experience or witness during my extensive daily travels all over Astoria and Chelsea, to give my opinion of each situation and to receive lots of feedback so that a consensus about how to better handle each situation can be reached (I will also try to document warm-fuzzy moments so as not to appear too curmudgeonly, but as I am a curmudgeon, don’t expect much). In essence, I’d like to set social etiquette standards that are specifically catered to NYC. Of course the Emily Post Institute has general etiquette covered, but I believe New York City needs its own special guide. For example, public makeup application is enough to make even a young Southern woman cringe, but you’ll probably find two or more face painters per car on any mid-morning, Manhattan-bound N train. One could assume that Astoria has the most vain women (and one would probably be a man – I’ve often marveled that more people don’t equate makeup application with insecurity than vanity, since it’s the act of covering up or boosting what’s natural)…or one could know that it’s home to more musical theatre performers than any other neighborhood, and for them, mascara-swiping and line-reading are just as necessary as touching up those TPS reports on your iPad. Of course guidelines must be established here as for anything (hello, no perfume or nail polish, olfaction much?!), which is why New York needs its own set of rules.
I’ve never understood calling New York a melting pot, since most of its components stay in their stubborn, solid states and wrestle to a boil. Maybe the perpetual motion looks like peace soup from a distance, but up close it just feels like a clusterfuck. I don’t expect to turn the chaos of pedestrians walking on red lights and being mowed over by delivery bicyclists who are too busy looking back at drivers opening their doors without looking into order, but I would at least like to find all the other sensitive, courteous New Yorkers who feel like potatoes being mashed by thousands of nasty parsnips and carrots (that makes no sense, I just felt obligated to round out the metaphor). If you’re out there and you haven’t been shoved onto the tracks yet, please sound off before it’s too late and some asshole is saying he was trying to save your life with his camera’s flash. Posts coming soon, provided rudeness continues…