Sunday, November 16, 2008

Underground Etiquette

I've been living in NYC for a very long time now and I have learned to adopt the New York culture of "mind your own business". Everyday, I go to work via public transportation and I always try to mind my own business. I try to have something with me on hand such as a book or news paper to entertain myself. Every day, I encounter different types of people in the subway - from regular working stiff like me to homeless people begging for quarters to tourist trying to experience the crazy subway life. Sometimes, I see the same people I rode the subway with a day before - my silent subway buddies. But sometimes, even in New York, you have to make a little noise....

One Thursday afternoon I was on my way to work. As usual the train was crowded and I didn't have a seat. I was standing in the middle of the train reading my book when all of sudden a family obviously from out of town rushed through the door and pushed themselves in. They pushed into me so hard that I almost fell, causing me to drop my book. I was irritated (how unusual for me) and was expecting them to apologize. I got nothing. Quite the opposite, they started giggling. While picking up my book, I gave them a look (which is a perfectly acceptable response under the mind your own business code) and told them that "it would be polite to say excuse me" (this may have been a breach of protocol, but given the circumstances, justifiable). They responded snidely saying "excuse you". Angry now, I replied "what an asshole" and moved on. A few seconds later these interlopers shouted "go back to your country freak". (It's aw-uhn now...)

What? What the fuck! I looked back at them and started the best argument I ever had in my life (having a lawyer husband - I can never win an argument):

"What the fuck did you say? You want me to go back to my own country? Fuck you! Who the hell are you to ask me to go back to my country? As far as I know you are not native Americans to ask someone like me to go back to my country. And beside, at least I have my own you know where the hell you came from? Not because you're white you are entitled to be a fucking racist. Before you ask someone to go back to their own country - think and use your peanut side brain and perhaps learn history and find out where the hell you came from!"

I turned around, a little shaky and, to be honest, a little scared that the alpha male (who based his accent came from somewhere deep south) would punch me and knock me down. Clearly the hometown crowd appreciated my breach as a bunch of people started clapping and nodding at me. This sign solidarity scared the tourist and drove them off at the next stop.

Ahh, that made me feel better and thanks the people who supported me.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against tourist in NYC. As a matter of fact I welcome them. I think they help the economy of the city that I love and I call home. But sometimes, just use your head! And if not, well watch out....because, if not, you will learn that the "mind your own business" ethos can quickly give way to that classic Noo Yawk attitude. And, to paraphrase Naughty By Nature: "If you ain't never been in the subway, don't ever come to the subway, 'cause you wouldn't understand the subway, so stay the fuck out of the subway!" (Yeah, you know me.)


  1. Hi, Joanie, I hesitate to even leave a comment! I am SO not a Noo Yawker, though I did visit once. And even so, I did not venture into the subway. I think I am glad I didn't. But, way to go! That was SO rude! I like you. I like your style and your blog. I am in Oregon and looking forward to seeing your next post.

  2. your blog is excellent and be with me some special emotions - with a lot of questions - one of them is definitely what you are getting a life of the city where you live that attracts me so much and my my imagination indeed encourages - I wish to you all the best
    Steven May

  3. Dawn - thank you for reading my blog. I will try to post more.

    Steve - thank you following on my blog. I like reading you're blog as well.
    To answer your question on what am I getting a life of the city where you live that attracts me so much....Everything. NY is full of life. If you can make it here, you can make it everywhere.


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