Subway Etiquette

I’m still pretty new here in the city and the thrill of the subway hasn’t yet worn off, although I do have a question about rules of behavior while riding the train.

Let’s say I’m on the subway and it’s crowded. I am sitting next to strangers on either side and on my merry way. Soon, though, we are bound to come to a main stop like Penn Station or Union Square and it always happens. Everyone gets off the train except for the person sitting on my immediate left. So all of a sudden it’s like I have myself a new buddy. We’re just sitting there, complete strangers right on top of each other, our shirts touching, and there are like 20 open seats all around us.

Am I supposed to scoot down or sit on the other side of the train? The times this has happened it’s not like I was sitting next to a smelly bum or a Scientologist. They seemed like regular people. I don’t want to appear rude. I would sit next to you, but I’d really rather not. I loathe your body. That’s not nice to send that message, is it?

But on the other hand, am I seen as a creep if I don’t move? Who the hell is this guy and why is he still sitting right next to me?

But what if I was sitting down first and they were the one to sit next to me? Isn’t the burden now on them to move if they so desire? That wouldn’t offend me but I don’t want them to feel like they are obligated to continue to sit next to me.

So far it hasn’t been too bad, though, because I usually travel with a book and I can pretend that I am so engrossed with what I am reading that I don’t even notice them. But one of these days I’m going to get up, sit on the opposite side of the train, and just glare at the person. And when they look up at me I’ll just say,

“Nice fart.”

Who’m I kidding, I won’t do that. But man, I wish I was the sort of person who would.


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