Tag Archives: etiquette

3am Subway Commute: White Girl Edition

The thing is, I’m usually the only girl on the train at this hour, white or otherwise.  Still, it was surprising and uncomfortable to me that I got this territorial feeling when she entered the car.  She hadn’t done anything.  But…then she did do some things.  And my initial reaction felt semi-warranted.  She didn’t do me wrong personally–she did the whole 3am train wrong.  And that right there is reason to fight.

If we’d dualed it out, I would’ve reasoned that I’d been there first, so, “That’s my hunched over drunk man in the corner.  And that suspicious puddle near the door is mine, too!”  She may’ve countered that she had a stronger core section from doing Pilates DVDs daily and could easily take me down.  In case you’d like to visualize this dual, she was dressed like this:  

And in comparison, I was dressed something like this: 

After being in the train car for one stop, the scantily-clad girl pulled a move that’s not so unusual–she decided to move to another car.  It doesn’t really matter why she came to this decision. I wasn’t offended by that. (Though I did feel a bit rejected.) The part I did judge was her execution of this decision. There’s an etiquette to 3am subway riding, and she didn’t follow it. If you decide to move to another car, the key is to do it quickly so as not to (1) Hold up the entire train when the conductor waits for you, or (2) End up having to take the next train when the conductor decides not to wait for you at all.  It used to be that you didn’t need to go outside the train to move between cars, but then they enacted this:

So, fine.  She was a bit slow moving to the next car.  Only that’s not my point.  Just before she entered the next car, she decided THAT one wasn’t good enough for her either, so then she scampered over to the next next car.  That means she had to scurry about 70 feet!  Her strappy sandals clip-clopped along the platform as the train was held up. 

In a sort of reflex, I clicked my tongue and shook my head.  I regret judging her, sort of.  But it was also this wonderful moment of solidarity because I noticed that the man across the aisle from me was doing the same exact thing.  We got it.  We were like members of a bowling league scoffing at the guy stepping up for and taking his turn even though the guy in the lane next to him was just about to take his first steps and lower and pull back his ball!  We were golfers wishing that the big group of elderly men on Hole 3 would let us play through!  We were (one more) the theater-goers who had been waiting months and months (ever since finishing the novel) to see The Time Traveler’s Wife, only to have to endure snickering and saliva-exchanging  noises from the back row.

All that said, I don’t aspire to be one of those ranting, judging everyone and everything just for the sake of having a bitchy opinion bloggers.  That’s not me.  But this time it just had to be done.  This white girl, of all the white girls, needed to be told (however indirectly): “Get your act together!”  In other words, wear the hot pants with the hot pink corset-y thing if it makes you happy.  Glare at we modest subway riders like we may at any second strap you and your sandaled feet down and have our dirty way with you.  Just don’t hold us up!  These people just pulled doubles at their places of employment.  They’re burnt out.  They’re tired.  And they gotta do it all again tomorrow!  All they want to do is get home as quickly as possible, climb into bed, and maybe, if they’re lucky and can stay awake long enough, have their way with their equally exhausted spouses. 

Truth is, I guess I rolled my eyes because I don’t want to be lumped in with this kind of inconsiderate behavior.  I don’t want to be seen as a 3am mostly naked white girl on the subway stereotype (who accidentally wore clothes).   I’ll come right out and say it (and this holds true for everyone): Learn some respect or take a cab.  But respect the cabbie, too.  And wear your seatbelt in cars of all kind.  Also, put a sweater on if you get cold, especially on subway platforms late at night. 

Hope you got home safe, sorry if I was harsh, I guess you weren’t that naked, but you sort of were, so I refuse to apologize for anything I said.  There.  Put that on your MetroCard and swipe it.