Friday, April 15, 2011

Six in the City: Subway Door-Hogs (or, Why Important People are Allowed to Break the Rules)



by Max Power (bio) & May Jones (bio)

Max Power and May Jones live in Manhattan with one (paying) job, four children and zero dogs. They are mormons. These are their stories.

Max Power: So, once again this morning, my fiery indignation was kindled toward those people who seem to believe rules of social order are only applicable to them to the extent they are also convenient to them. Yes, as you probably have guessed, I am talking about subway-door-squatters.

May Jones: Ah yes, the “important” people who hover around the subway doors like they’ve been sworn to protect them. As if they won’t be able to nimbly hop off the subway in time carrying only their tiny man purses. Sure, block the way for those of us who have to muscle through the crowds with a four year old on each arm. We have a MUCH better chance of making it out in time! You don’t have to share the public transportation with 10 million other people. It’s all yours!

Max: (Sounds like I struck a nerve, May.) The best is when you get two such VIPs each occupying one half of the entry, leaving only a sliver of space between them. And then they just glance at you disinterestedly as you try to board/exit. “Oh, no, don’t move into the middle or anything. All 20 of us who have been waiting for ten minutes for this train will just grab the next one.” I mean, believe me (I frequent these trains every day) I know how desirable the door spot is. Unlike some people, though, I listen to the train driver repeating the same plea AT. EVERY. SINGLE. STOP: “Please step all the way into the train.” (Hint: she’s talking to you, door-hog.)

May: Why can’t people just be rule followers, like me? In the suburbs, it was the agony of the elementary school drop-off line cutters. You know the ones I’m talking about. And I’m sorry to say it, but most of the offenders were/are men. Why are their days more important than mine? Alright, so I’m not headed to Wall Street to change the world. But I am transporting a Cub Scout (future rule follower, like his mother) to his meetings and that should be worthy of some respect, amirite? These subway VIPs are also apparently concealing their secret lives in the theater, because you should see them roll their eyes and hear them make loud huffy noises when they have the incredible misfortune of getting stuck on the stairs behind a small child. Here’s an idea: go around! I’m sorry, but my daughters’ legs are twenty times shorter than yours, they can’t sprint down the stairs like there are free Krispy Kremes at the bottom. I admit, sometimes I’m really sold on the mob mentality and I grab both the girls so they’re clinging to me in an awkward hanging fashion and try to dash down myself, but not once have there been donuts. SO not worth it.

Max: I have to admit it—I am one of those platform-stair-sprinters; only I run out of the subway station. Maybe it’s the clean(er), fresh(er) air wafting through the openings just beyond the turnstiles, but the mere sight of the platform exit triggers an inner-animal instinct to race out of the subway and break into a Joseph Gordon-Levitt from 500 Days of Summer dance routine. But I definitely don’t huff when I see a four-year-old in front of me on the stairs. Let’s face it—given the relative scarcity of kids in this city, there’s a decent chance that any four-year-old I get stuck behind is one of my own. In fact, from the frequent reactions of people riding on the benches opposite us on our way to church Sunday mornings, you’d think a family with four kids deserves its own reality show.

May: Mmm hmm. They point, they gasp, again with the dramatics! Now I know what celebrities feel like, and it isn’t easy, you guys. All the staring, all the looks, everyone appraising your every move. I feel so exposed. No one stares at the guy walking four dogs in the park. Maybe I’m just walking all these children for other people. Yes, they all uncannily resemble me. Maybe that’s why the moms hired me.

Max: And it’s not just individuals—the Metro Transit Authority similarly has no idea how to process the concept of a family with more than 2 children. [Inside the prepaid MetroCard project planning meeting]: “Hey, Boss, we need to set a maximum number of swipes at one turnstile for the prepaid cards to keep people from selling bulk discount swipes on the black market. Pick a number... Let’s just do 4. Who on earth would ever need more than that?” [Cut to dad standing outside said turnstile frantically swiping his card for the fifth time after sending the four kids through, which kids are splitting off and heading for various wrong trains]: “*&$%, *$^#, @#%!”

May: So ... um ... maybe on occasion I have been guilty of standing right by the subway doors myself... But it’s a tough town! Survival of the fittest! (I’m important, too...)

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