Rules (and Fines) to Regulate New York City’s Idiots

A rare photo of a jack-ass-free New York street.

New York, New York. Big city. Lots of people. Many of these people are inconsiderate jerks. And I’m not just talking about the tourists gumming up Times Square. Those people are, for the most part, easy to avoid.

My biggest issue are the people who live here, the ones who should know better. But they don’t. So I’m proposing the following regulations and fines. Feel free to play along!

Use of golf umbrella: $100 fine. Beaten with said umbrella until it breaks.

Use of cellphone on subway stairs: $100. Phone tossed onto track. Guilty party must watch train run over phone.

Holding a conversation in front of revolving doors: $250. Forced to stand inside sealed-off section of revolving door until the glass fogs up.

Stopping short to text: $150. Revocation of sidewalk privileges. Forced to walk in bus lane for six months.

Bicycle on the sidewalk: Wait. There’s already a fine for this, jackass, because it’s already illegal!

Raising a stink about gluten at a non-specialty bagel shop: $100. Forced to produce doctor’s note proving gluten intolerance and/or forced to eat contents of toaster’s crumb tray.

Asking for vegan options at a barbecue restaurant: $150. Forced to sit at a table piled with sizzling bacon for two hours.

Asking for meat at a vegan restaurant: $200. Forced to admit you came in here and did that just to be a dick.

Going on and on and on about dim sum: $150. Forced to subsist on diet of chicken feet for one month.

Defending Chicago pizza: $200. Forced to admit you were just being THAT GUY. You know THAT GUY. There’s always one.

Being a food snob, yet being the first in line anytime some fast-food or grocery chain from your home town opens: $300. Forced, for six months, to do all your grocery shopping at that bodega with all the dusty canned goods and the almost-expired milk.

Sitting on subway stairs: $200. Boot to the head. Guilty party must lick article of clothing that was resting on said stairs.

Stopping in front of a turnstile to dig through your purse to find your Metrocard: $500. Purse privileges revoked. Forced to wear hot pink fanny pack with important items easily at hand.

Not knowing what you want even after standing in a food/coffee line for five minutes: $100. Hot dogs shoved down your shirt. Coffee poured on your lap.

Using an elevator to travel one floor: $100 and one hour on a Stairmaster.

Vaping on a subway train: $100 and having to live with the fact that you vape.

Smoking a cigarette on subway: Death. Forfeiture of all property to the American Cancer Society.

Telling people what to do, how to live their lives: $50. Forced to write blog listicles for the rest of your days.

One more:

Suggesting people who read your blog post go and buy one of your books:  Hours of pleasure. FOR YOU, DEAR READER!

The Subway Gods Are Cruel: Keys

They were loud talkers, so this story ends in the perfect way.


But you know who I’m talking about, that couple who always has one, two or three issues that they feel need to be aired out in public. This morning, they chose to do it on the R Train out of Bay Ridge. For the one stop the three of us shared, they were speaking Spanish so I was able to ignore it.

Two other women, speaking Spanish, were apparently unable to ignore it because they gave up seats to move away from the couple.

When the train pulled into 59th the street, the man exited and walked across the platform to the arriving N Train. And then the woman freaked out. She walked to the door of our R Train and started yelling, first in Spanish and then in English.

“My keys. I need my keys.” In Spanish again. “I need my fucking keys. Now. Give them to me.”

She was holding the train door. Both trains were just sitting there. I don’t know where we were in relation to the conductors of each, but maybe they heard the commotion and were giving these two a chance to get it done. The passengers on the R Train were mildly annoyed at the yelling. We were all waiting to get extremely annoyed if the conductor tried to close the door and Drama Queen had her ass wedged there and wouldn’t let us leave.

She shouted again, waving frantically. “MY KEYS!”

And for some reason, one thought flitted across my mind: Don’t do it.

But of course he did it. HE THREW THE KEYS. About two pounds of keys and key chain were launched toward the R Train.

Where do you think they landed?

On the platform? No. On the floor of the train? Of course not.

In her hands?

Well, they hit her hands, barely, and then fell, right into the gap between the train and the platform onto the tracks.

“Oh my god! How the fuck you gonna do that to me?” she yelled, then said some other things in Spanish that made me wish I knew all the dirtiest curse words in Spanish because I bet that’s what she was using. The man remained silent.

She stepped out of the train. The doors closed. The women speaking Spanish said something and laughed. Then someone else said, “Boy and you thought your day was bad,” and everyone else laughed. And off we went.

Legal Trouble: Call 1-800-JESUS-DEFENSE

This morning so far:

Jesus Lawyer

"Judge, this guy is a Dallas Cowboys fan. Hasn't he suffered enough?"
“Judge, this guy is a Dallas Cowboys fan. Hasn’t he suffered enough?”

Upon boarding the 4 Train at Nevins Street, I find myself on a car with a subway preacher. But not just any subway preacher. Not the angry old lady shouting at the top of her lungs with righteous fury. I HATE that woman. I don’t go shouting at you first thing in the morning that you’re going to die and then never feel anything, not even regret, so you better make the most of your life while you have it. So don’t go shouting at me that I’m going to burn in hell.  When she’s on the train, I will switch cars or dig out my headphones and listen to music — something like Jessie J, because I have it on good authority that subway preachers HATE Jessie J.

No, this guy was dressed for work. In construction. Hard hat and everything.

He was Jamaican. And when I walked onto the train, he was in the middle of a story about a guy going up before the judge for some crime. And the judge wants to throw the book at the criminal, but the judge has a relationship with the defense attorney, who puts in a good word and — well, I wasn’t clear if the guy got off or just had his sentence reduced. But either way, when you die, it apparently really pays to have Jesus as your defense attorney, especially when his Old Man is the judge.

Continue reading “Legal Trouble: Call 1-800-JESUS-DEFENSE”

That One Crazy on the Train

If you’ve taken the 4 or 5 or 6 train out of Grand Central regularly over the last 10 years, you’ve run into her at some point. The short, mid-30s white woman who comes aboard and starts with the sob story about needing money for her and her children because:

  1. Her husband the soldier died in Iraq.
  2. Her husband the soldier died in Afghanistan.
  3. Her husband the first-responder died in Sandy.
  4. Their house burnt down and her husband died in the fire.

Last night, her story had changed to her ex-husband was abusive and she was trying to get herself and her two children (one of whom has to be old enough to vote by now) away from the bastard. She layered the story, too. She was also going to grad school. GRAD SCHOOL. (Hey, dream big!) For a masters in social work. (Okay, maybe not.) And her ex-husband had screwed up any chance she had at financial aid because he claimed her and the kids as dependents. (Great detail.)

This woman really grates on my nerves, but I’ve always kept my mouth shut because a) she’s obviously unwell and b) though she sounds sweet and helpless, she can switch gears in the blink of an eye.

The woman sitting across from me — who also has likely seen the same woman telling multiple stories over the years — muttered a few things under her breath. It wasn’t loud enough to set our story-teller off, but it did prompt this as story-teller left our car for the other:

“Yeah, you bitch? Well I hope my fucking ex-husband finds you and beats your ass. Hope he chokes you. That’ll show you.”

Consistency Is Overrated

This morning while at the cafe stirring things into my coffee, I did what I usually do: Before taking the lid off the cup, I grabbed a napkin and placed it on the counter so that my overturned lid — you know, the part where you put your mouth — would not come into contact with a surface covered with spilled sugar, drying dairy products and, perhaps, the footprints of flies. Basic sanitary precaution, right?

Well, two strange things about it.

1. I rarely notice other people doing this. Even that women who walks around with Purell in her pockets will just put the lid on a plain counter.

2. Why the hell do I do it? It’s not that I don’t follow basic sanitation practices. I wash my hands after going to the bathroom, after all. But thinking about it, I don’t think I’ve ever washed my hands after getting off the subway and before going to Popeyes–a food I not only eat with my hands, but that eventually leads to some hardcore finger licking. Hell, I’m the kind of guy who will lean his face against a subway pole (only if the car is mostly empty, because otherwise pole-leaning is rude). I’m also the sort who’s left food out of the fridge for an extended period of time and eaten it anyway. And, with the exception of dairy products, I tend to view expiration dates as a rough guideline — Hey, these eggs still SMELL fine.

Also, I don’t get a flu shot.

But, you know, that one piece of paper on the cafe counter will save me every time. Or something.

10 Things I Wish You’d Stop Doing on the Subway

1. Clipping your fingernails (especially if your cuticles are bleeding).
2. Laughing hysterically with your friends. The joke wasn’t funny, your laugh is annoying and the girls across the aisle aren’t paying attention to you.
3. Sighing because I won’t give up my seat. You’re not pregnant, crippled, old or hot. It ain’t gonna happen. Hell, I’m married, so even if you are hot, you can remain standing. And sighing.
4. Performing magic tricks involving live birds.
5. Asking for change on behalf of the United Homeless Organization. (And those nasty-ass ‘sangwiches’ don’t help your case when you’re shouting in my ear.)
6. Reading over my shoulder. Get your own damn book.
7. Clipping your toenails.
8. Peeling that orange and dropping the peels on the floor.
9. Singing along with the Mariah Carey song playing on your iPod. You may be wearing heels, but your adam’s apple is giving you away.
10. Shitting yourself — and the seat.

UPDATE: On the ride home, woman sitting next to me is shelling peanuts! To be fair, she was putting the shells in the bag, not on the floor. … Also, ad your own in comments!

Check Out The Subway Chronicles

I’m adding my good friend Jackie Cangro’s blog to ye olde blogroll. I’m probably not going to make it a habit to announce additions, but since Jackie was the first person to publish me in book form, I owe her. Big Time. While you’re at it, order a copy of the book she edited, also called The Subway Chronicles. I’m in it, so you know it’s good! (It’s also very cheap.) Also featured in the book are Calvin Trillin, Jonathan Lethem and some other people.