Thursday, May 6, 2010

Courtesy and Other Subway Contagions

I miss the days when subway conductors were actually allowed to talk. Most of the time they were boring, just announcing the stops in monotonous voices that sounded not unlike the grown-ups in Peanuts, had they lost the will to live. But sometimes, magic happened.

Like this one time, during rush hour, when my conductor growled, "Next stop... hell!" (At least he was being honest.)

And I'll never forget the time my female conductor said, sighing, "To the two men having sex on the lower platform--we can see you. We can ALL SEE YOU."

"Oooh, boys, watch out for the mariachi band! And the lady selling churros!"

Now we just have automated, voices with flat, regionless accents that jabber incessantly between stops. One recording warns passengers to "protect yourself," and every single time I finish the sentence in my head "... before you wreck yo self." (Those automated voices should totally rap.)

There's also a buzzkill robot who basically tells us that the crumpled Subway wrapper on the floor beneath the sleeping homeless man, next to the cup of either pee or Mountain Dew, is probably rigged to explode.

And then there's this one: “If you see an elderly, pregnant, or handicapped person near you, offer your seat. You’ll be standing up for what’s right (pun intended). Courtesy is contagious, and it starts with you.”

Look, I have nothing against the elderly, pregnant, or handicapped. I'll stand up for what's old, or fat, or blind. But courtesy is not contagious, no matter how much you pun. What's contagious is the hacking cough of the man leaning against the pole (DUDE. THAT IS NOT. YOUR. POLE.) ...or the glances of relief when the very vocal insane person decides to stop arguing with the Jerry Orbach organ donation poster and exit the train... or, surely, the bench being used by the two men having sex on the lower platform.
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24 comments :

  1. You know what else is contageous? Giving people the finger. Try it next time you're on the subway. You'll see just how catching it is.

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  2. i would go on a train to just to meet both those conductors you mentioned. automatic voices are so much less fun. next thing you know they will be replacing STEWARDESSES. that would be *heart* wrenching.

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  3. you're so right. i ride the el in chicago and the only time the conductor speaks, it's to announce the next stop AFTER THE AUTOMATED RECORDING ALREADY DID IT.

    seriously?

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  4. I once was on a airplane when the stewardess, instead of telling people where it was appropriate to smoke told everyone to "please refrain from smoking for the rest of your life." It was awesome.

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  5. Anonymous1:36 AM

    yeah, the boston subway conductors sometimes still announce stuff (I think when the automated thingie is broken...) but they always have the greatest boston accents

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  6. On a visit to Long Island last year I discovered that the pre-recorded safety warning voice on the commuter trains is Steve Gutenberg! Seriously - "This is Steve Gutenberg reminding you to blah blah blah..."

    So sad... poor Mahoney. (Or poor Long Island commuter trains?)

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  7. I was on the train going to school and the driver came up on the intercom and said "We're currently cruising at an altitude of one and a half metres."
    That was unexpected.

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  8. Completely agree with you. Everything seems to get shittier the older I get. Maybe that's why old people are so bitter.

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  9. We have the same thing here in London, although occasionally the drivers speak to us. One sang to us when we were stuck in a queue waiting to get to a station. I've also had drivers telling people to get on or off the train, cos it's make up your mind time, and refer to the station at the end of the line as being "like the night of the living dead".

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  10. You are da bomb!! I love to read your blog each morning before I start work. I am saddened when I realize that you didn't post anything the night before. Don't you know that your sole purpose in life is to entertain me? Sheez, lady, get with it. Seriously though, you bring a smile to my face with your witty self and for that I thank you. Good day, dear!!

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  11. You paint a very vivid picture of commuter life. I can almost smell the urine. :)

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  12. I just wrote about my morning commute to work on my own blog. My bus driver's good deed was contageous in that it put me in good spirits (this coming from an otherwise grumpy morning guy).

    Three cheers for the NY subway conductors who add colour to your commute!

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  13. they do still talk to you....but only to tell you that you have to get off 4 stations early and then take a bus to your desired destination because they are working on the tracks up ahead. *sigh* careful what you wish for

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  14. I've never been on a subway, sad isn't it? Although they have these Trolley buses around OKC that I sooo want to ride. Oklahoma Spirit is what they are called. I'm wondering now if the drivers speak to you!

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  15. That is a Very Cool Subway

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  16. I should have some witty repartee for you, but after reading this post, this is the only thing my brain can do:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...

    Most excellent, dude.

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  17. My husband and I live in France now, but we occasionally break out in monotone (courtesy of Union Square), "Please stand clear of the closing door as the train enters and leaves the station. Please stand clear of of the closing doors."

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  18. This post just really made me homesick. I'm stuck in this little ass town!!!

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  19. the one conducter who yelled at the men having sex on the lower platform would of been hilarious to me.the hole idea of people haveing sex at a subway station is so funny

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  20. For someone who has never ridden a train, I suddenly want to just because you make it seem so adventurous. :)

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  21. Sandra2:38 AM

    I know, I loved those old conductor comments! Sometimes it almost made the subway enjoyable. (Almost.) The pole hog is my very least favourite subway jerk, though. The sleeping homeless guy may smell worse, and I still want to gag the screaming infant, but the pole hog can get me from zero to very angry in about three seconds flat. Especially if s/he has just crushed my fingers with his/her back in the process of taking over the entire pole with their back.

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  22. hahah this cracks me up.

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  23. I'm pregnant and no one ever, EVER gives up their seat for me. But last week an anorexic bitch practically karate chopped me out of the way as I waddled over to a vacant seat. She won.

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  24. I so wish subway operators could talk to everyone. When I lived in London, there was a guy who worked at my tube stop who would GO OFF on the whole station, it was hilarious. When trains would get stuck, the driver would usually talk to us, but when it was stuck at the platform in this station, he'd peer out of his ticket office window and chatter away to us. Once he kept talking and went "oh, look at that, you'll be stuck for another ten minutes AND YOU GET ME. MORE OF ME. BAHAHAHAH!"
    It pretty much made my day each time.

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