Monday, July 29, 2013

The Unwritten Social Rules Of Manhattan

A few weeks ago some friends and I were talking about how the MTA needs to have an etiquette campaign on par with "If You See Something, Say Something." There's a lot of wrong every day on buses and trains, and usually via perfectly normal-looking professionals, en route to work.

It came up when a friend of mine, who has four-year-old twins and takes the 7 train from Queens every day, said she often had a hard time physically getting onto the subway because people stand in front of the sliding doors. Ever the clever woman, she now shouts, "Hot coffee!" whenever she needs to get onto the train. Miraculously, people move. (It should be noted that she rarely ever actually has coffee in her hands. She just wants to people to step aside.)

In addition to the unwritten life rules in the video above, there are a few other points I would love to see in this imaginary etiquette campaign:

1. Always give up your seat to a pregnant woman. Always. Even if you are also a woman. This is not about chivalry, it's about being thoughtful to someone who needs that seat way more than you do. (Creating life is exhausting.)

2.On that note, always offer your seat on a bus or subway to someone with a small child. It is infinitely easier to manage a toddler when they are sitting down.

3. Clipping nails and eating chicken on public transport is always no bueno. This needs no elaboration.

4. Be present: When someone is walking down the street, wearing headphones and texting at the same time, it is hard to feel sorry for them when they trip and/or bump into someone.

5. Cross on the green, not in between: This was a public service annoucement back in the 1980s, yet I seem to be the only one who remembers it. It's timeless advice: if you're not looking to get hit by a semi, wait for the green light. Jaywalking may not be an enforcable crime, but in Manhattan it can actually land you in the emergency room.

6. If you're on a Citi Bike, wear a helmet: I would love to hear an intelligent reason as to why anyone rides a bike in Manhattan without a helmet. If professional bike messengers wear helmets, we should follow their lead. Clearly they know something us bike rookies don't.