7 Unspoken Rules Of The NYC Transit System

7 Unspoken Rules Of The NYC Transit System

Just like the "bacon-egg-and-cheese," these rules are essential for every New Yorker.
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If you're a New Yorker, you know that the MTA is just as essential as your "bacon-egg-and-cheese" in the morning. Even though I'm sure many of us have a love/hate relationship with the system, it's undeniable that many of us wouldn't be able to get from one point to another without it. As a native New Yorker, you learn to utilize the train and bus system like no other. If you bet me one hundred dollars that I couldn't get from the Upper East Side in Manhattan to Bay Ridge in Brooklyn without setting foot above ground, I'd be one hundred dollars richer. As I'm sure the same with many New Yorkers no matter the destination.

Just like every culture, there are a set of unspoken rules that go along with the MTA and the riders who rely on it every day. In my 20 years of using the MTA subway and bus system, here are some rules that I've noted, and firmly believe all New Yorkers know even if it's part of their subconscious.

1. Step aside as people get off the train or bus

Subway push

Every day there seems to be someone who believes they're brave enough to stand right in front of the doors as people get off the train or bus. It's almost common sense to move aside and let people off the vehicle before you get on. Not only does it help the train move faster, but you won't have to get stared down by literally everyone next to you because you decided to be inconsiderate.

2. That middle seat is a "no no"

You know what I'm talking about. That one seat on the train or bus that's right in between two other perfectly reliable seats. The one that no matter what, you refuse to sit in because why would I ever want to sit next to two people instead of one? Unless the vehicle you're on is absolutely crowded, this seat is usually avoided at all cost. It's pretty sad actually. The seat just wants to be loved like every other seat, but is condemned to a life of holding bags instead of backsides.

3. Yes, you should probably give that seat up

As a young adult, I've dealt with this far too many times. Imagine you're on the train or bus after a long day of school or work and all you need right now is a place to rest your legs while you venture home. An elderly, pregnant, or disabled person gets on and you know your conscious is literally kicking you in the face. What do you do? Well, just give it up. I know it's hard, but just know that person has been through enough to deserve that seat especially if you're a bit more able-bodied and willing than them. Honestly, to me, there's only one exception to not giving your seat up to someone that fits under those categories, and that's if they're a complete asshole before you even get the chance to stand up.

4. If you hear "SHOWTIME" just look straightforward and avoid eye contact

very New Yorker knows this (more often than not) dreaded sound. Usually designated to only the subway system, "SHOWTIME" is most associated with someone performing a dance on the subway platform or in the train cars. Sometimes the acts are pretty good, and you might even enjoy seeing someone flip in between the seats. Nine times out of ten though, you're rolling your eyes whenever someone almost kicks you in the face. Now, this isn't to take away from the performers. As an artist myself, I know that it takes not only guts but charisma to perform on any platform in front of people, let alone New Yorkers. But when you're on the way home from work or school and exhausted from a full day, this is something that may not necessarily make your day better.

5. It's not a dining car

People are always on the go in NYC, so this one I'm pretty lenient about. I've been the one devouring a sandwich on my way to class and I've also been the person holding their nose because I can't stand the smell of whatever it is you've decided to drag on this vehicle. Either way, I think it's important to be aware of those around you and just waiting to get wherever you're going to before you decide to chow down. Even though it's kind of innate for some New Yorkers to be inconsiderate, you never know what allergies, restrictions, or just what mood someone may be in when you decide to break that meal open. Unless you're on the literal verge of starvation, give it some time. Not only could you spare someone from using an EpiPen, but it's also an act of consideration that all of us greatly appreciate.

6. NYC wildlife are passengers too

Listen, if that "pizza rat" video amazed you, then you're not a native New Yorker. Whether it's rats, pigeons, squirrels, raccoons, possums, or even the occasional dead shark, these animals are basically passengers too. I see rats playing tag every day in various stations. I've dodged pigeons who've mistaken my head for a large piece of bread. Once you live in NYC, you realize these miniature passengers are just a large part of NYC as you are. As long as they're not dropping bubonic plague everywhere, I think you're good.

7. We're all in this together

At the end of the day, it's important to remember that no matter where you're going or what you're doing, we're all experiencing the same emotions on this ride. Every delay, every disruption, every late arrival, every stop missed, we all feel it. Remember to be considerate of those around you. I've met some of the best people while being on the bus or train because of the pure fact that we all knew we were going through something together. We may hate it, but NYC's transit system does unite us even when we least expect it.

Cover Image Credit: Fancycrave / Pexels

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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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