7 Reasons To LOVE The Wonderful MTA

7 Reasons To LOVE The Wonderful MTA

You know I do!
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here's something wonderfully expensive about living in New York. But, as they say, you get what you pay for. Access to some of the world's best schools, best museums, and best restaurants, it's no wonder the sales tax is close to 10%! It's also no wonder, then, that the cost of a MetroCard swipe keeps rising, what with all the wonderful new improvements being made to the system at the cost of millions of nearly-three dollar charges made daily. It's not inflation boys and girls, it's just evident in the wonderful services they provide in the most efficient and pleasant manner. So here I have compiled a list of 7 reasons that I love the MTA, and you should too!

1. They Always Come At The Right Time

If it's a challenge you want, then it's a challenge you'll get. If you're like me and you make three transfers before arriving at your destination (EVERY MORNING), you probably also really appreciate how it's almost as if the MTA times it so that even though the train you're getting off of and the train you're getting onto are often being ridden by the same group of people, neither will give any consideration to how efficient your transfer could be but won't be. Did that train just ride away with two people in it as a swarm of 200 frustrated commuters came running towards it? Ah, yes.

2. The Train Conductors Are Always Super Informative

Nothing like hearing someone screaming into a microphone at 8:45 in the morning, only to find out that

Blarhcks Onclvuuvod Werspekcfs Qoivcaldjd

Actually translates to

This train will not be stopping at 51st street. Please enjoy your morning

Which would make sense, seeing as how you just skid right by your 2nd connection on your commute.

3. They're Always Assigning MTA Employees/Officers to the Right Tasks

I once watched a grown man in a business suit nearly push a pregnant woman down a flight of stairs to make his train. I once witnessed a woman pull a child by her hair to get her onto their train. I was once stuck for several minutes in an MTA turnstile because my bag was caught and I couldn't get it off. The MTA employee was looking at something interesting that was happening somewhere in the phone-region of her tiny box, so I guess she was busy. Also, last week I was given a $100 fine for allowing my friend to swipe through with me because, you guessed it, their card machine was not running. On either side of the station. At three in the morning. But no, please, I deserve it, the mothers pulling their children by the hair are much more worthy of a free pass.

4. Also, They Are Always The Friendliest!

"Ma'am, can I use this reader to check my balance?"

"Ma'am, can I use this?"

"Ma'am?"

((swipes card))

Woman In Booth: EXCUSE ME, may I help you?

((me, struggling to get to a train that pulled in too far into the station))

((me, running with a pack of men and women hoping to board the only train for the next 13 minutes))

((me, making it to the door, but getting closed out))

((conductor, watching me struggle to get my bag out of the door, smiling))

5. Signal Problems? NEVER!

Signal Problems: clearly not what your swipe money is going towards fixing. I don't even know what a signal problem implies, but all I know is that the MTA is sending out mixed signals like an estranged Tinder hookup.

6. The Cost Is WORTH IT

There's nothing like stepping onto the morning train and finding out it smells like burning metal, or body odor, or both! There's nothing like forcing yourself onto an over-capacity car because, well honey, it's that or you're late for class. Furthermore, there's nothing like realizing that MOST OTHER MAJOR CITIES PAY CONSIDERABLY LESS FOR THEIR RAILWAY SYSTEMS, well, if they're not FREE. Most other major cities also have considerably fewer people relying on their systems because they have cars as well, and they account for this. Somedays, your everyday train has decided not to run, which would be fine if the bus wasn't 26 minutes away and your car wasn't nonexistent.

7. It's Not Their Fault If You're Late

In fact, it's not the MTA's fault if they're not providing effective alternative services, or if they decide to fix something that should have been fixed years ago, intermittently, all at once as to provide no service for anyone as opposed to limited service for all. It's not their fault the train is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's not their fault they're writing students up for hopping turnstiles, when there are people hopping metaphorical turnstiles in big business and in turn actually MAKING MONEY. By that I mean, the people in charge of the MTA whose pockets I fill with cash every time I cough over $32 for a weekly subway pass.

The bureaucracy of New York transportation works the way that all things in New York do: just enough to keep people from leaving. And so, here I am, eternally grateful for the services of those services that work just enough to keep me in class and at work.

Cover Image Credit: Antonio DiCaterina / Unsplash

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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A Gap Year Was Just What I Needed

Taking a year off between high school and college was the best thing I could have done for so many reasons.

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Everyone around me was buzzing with excitement about their acceptances to their dream university and I didn't feel the same. I was accepted to every school I applied to, but none of them felt right. At my high school, if you didn't go to college, you would have been deemed a failure and that is not what I wanted my reputation to be. When the day came, I sat down at a computer to accept my admission to a college. I was in a panic mode, and I knew that's not what I wanted. I had no idea what I wanted to do, and I had no idea if that was where I wanted to be, so I exited the website and came up with a plan.

After graduation, I boarded a flight to Denver, Colorado. I was alone on a plane going 1,000 miles west to a place I've never been. In a short amount of time, I knew I had made the right decision.

I spent eight months in the Rocky Mountains learning how to do the "adult thing." I worked 40+ hours a week in freezing temperatures and a ton of snow, making ten dollars an hour. In a resort town, ten dollars is not a lot of money. I lived on Wonder bread and eggs, I cooked on my hotplate on the top of my mini fridge. I was shown what it's like to work for the things I want, and it taught me to appreciate everything I've always been handed so easily, and that was something I really needed.

Throughout my adventure, I met so many different people in all different stages of life. I think that's the most important aspect of my entire trip. By working and living with people young and old, I learned different skills, living habits, and ways of life which I am forever grateful for. These people had shown me more about life in eight months than I had learned in my entire life, and without this experience, I would have never been introduced to half of the things I was introduced to.

I hiked 14,000-foot mountains, watched the X-Games in Aspen, attended endless concerts, and became a better snowboarder by having the chance to do it every day. Without my friends and taking this leap, I would have been sitting in a classroom wondering what I could have been doing instead. Because of taking time off, I am now back in class, able to focus on my work and doing better than I ever have before.

The most important part of my gap year was finding myself. I proved to myself that I am strong and independent, and I can achieve any goal I set as long as I work hard and have fun along the way. Before I left, I had no idea what I wanted to do or be. Upon my return home, I realized I needed to go to college to receive a higher education to better myself. Having a full-time job and being out in the real world helped me to narrow down what I really want to be and what I want to achieve for myself. I learned how to truly live and that there is no set path I need to take because this is my own life to create.

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