Here, Let Me Help You

Traveling to NY for the first time, or just want to discuss the commute? Here, let me help you.


“If one more person bumps into me on the subway platform I’m going to loose it!” If this has ever been you commuting in New York, congratulations you’re not a tourist. I vaguely remember travelling to Manhattan with my cool Brooklyn aunt on the subway as a little girl. As a small child from the suburbs of New Jersey where a car is required to get you to anywhere, New York, the subway, people running for trains, every aspect of a bustling metropolis was all too intimidating. And being a responsible adult that didn’t want me to get kidnapped, my aunt had me walk ahead of her so she could keep an eye on me. This led to me barely moving and looking up wide eyed at all the people around me afraid that I would be trampled. This is acceptable behavior for a 5 year old, however if you are not a small child in a big city, you need to cut it out.

I often find myself saying this to people: “Here, let me help you.” So,  from one person who’s been working near and commuting through the busiest transit hubs in NY for for a few years now, here’s what I’m tired of seeing and what you should be aware that you’re doing that will get you angry stares from everyone else in your vicinity (me).

  1. For the love of God, stop blocking things!
    1.  Escalators
      1. Somehow there are all these people walking around Manhattan with suitcases half their body size. Tell me, have you all just come off the bus, train/taxi/plane/and you’re ALL headed to/from your hotel? Either way, when you get on an escalator with this item, please stand to the right if at all possible. If it’s clear that the escalator can accommodate two people side by side on one step, expect people to try to pass you on your left. (Note: Even if the escalator can’t accommodate two people side by side, expect it.)
      2. Do not stop moving as soon as you get off the escalator. Your job is not done, the staircase that was moving to get you where you are didn’t magically stop moving now that you’re off, and there are people behind you that will need room to get off. Be a pal, don’t make me play leap-frog over you to avoid tripping and falling on the moving staircase.
    2. Sidewalks
      1.  This issue seems to be Midtown-centric, and although I work near Grand Central, this is not just a “I’m visiting from (insert place here) and this is my first time in this area, I have to take a thousand pictures” occurrence.  This happens with other people that I assume work in the area, are out for lunch with their coworkers, and are strolling down the sidewalk at a glacial pace 6 people wide. CONGRATULATIONS, you know each other! Now can you step aside and let people pass? You’re messing with the flow of traffic and now I have to bob, weave, and power walk around you to get out of the way of people coming from the other direction.
      2. “But what if I’m lost and I don’t know where I’m going?”, When you’re lost while you’re driving on the highway and are trying to find what exit you should take, do you stop in the middle of the lane to use your GPS, or do you pull over? If you answered pull over, then your municipality did the right thing by giving you a license to operate a motor vehicle. They didn’t think it necessary to give them out for walking on the sidewalk, but the same thought process applies.
  2. It’s called mass transit, there are other people there with you
    1. Subway
      1. Getting into the turnstile
        1. If you don’t know, now you know: you’ll need a MetroCard and you’ll have to swipe it in the card reader in order to be granted access into the lovely transit system. Prepare yourself for this momentous occasion by retrieving your MetroCard before you approach the turnstile. Do Not stand in the turnstile and then reach for your wallet, this makes you a jerk and holds up the line.
      2. Getting to the train
        1. Chances are, once you’ve entered the turnstile, you will need to use more stairs to actually get to your desired metal chariot on wheels of steel. If this is the case, the same rules apply as they did with the escalator, step aside and let those that aren’t afraid of nearly getting caught in the closing doors race past you like an imitation of Usain Bolt. There will be other trains but that’s not why they’ve come to the subway station today. They want that train whose doors have already closed once, sometimes it’s just the thrill of the chase and the possibility that they almost lost a limb but didn’t. Let them attempt that victory.
      3. Getting on the train:
        1. Wait for people to get out of the car, this just makes sense, the fewer people in the car, the more room for you
        2. Enter the car and walk towards the middle. Don’t stand in front of the door blocking people behind you from getting their spot.
        3. Don’t stop the doors from closing. The only time I want to hear “Stand clear of the closing doors please” is once per stop, not 5 times because the conductor is mad that people are still trying to rush on and can’t close the doors.
        4. Use your palm and the 5 digits that have grown out of it to hold the pole. The subway is no place to get casual and you likely can’t ride it the whole time without holding on, so either sit in a seat, or hold the pole, with your hand, not with one whole side of your body. Do not lean on the pole as if you’re trying to be “Cool Guy #2” in a clothing catalog. Share the pole, bro.
        5. If the car is not full, don’t stand on top of people you don’t know, they don’t want to get to know you. Especially not there. Thanks.
      4. Getting off the train:
        1. People have been nice enough to let you off, now is your turn to step lively. If you are not at least 10 steps off of the train, you are still in the way. This means now is not the time to take stock of the ride you’ve just had, think about how grateful you are for the MTA, or look around the subway station.
        2. The station where you’ve chosen to get off is not the new world and you needn’t explore it like a pilgrim arriving on the Mayflower. Step all the way off the train and then look around to figure out which staircase you want to use to get outside.

Commuting can be tough, but here are some resources that will make it easier:

Transit: iPhone | Android Will help you figure out what your nearest transportation options are and provide an ETA.

Google Maps: iPhone | Android Put in your location and destination and let it tell you what to take and how far to walk.

Uber: iPhone | Android Cut out all the work of mass transit all together and just take a car. If you and your travel mates have never used the app before, you may be able to take turns while carpooling and ride for free.

Don’t forget to enjoy NYC!