Becker: A Metro-North tryst could be very efficient
Columnist David Brooks, in his graduation speech to Skidmore College this year, advised seniors that to be happy in life, they should have more sex and commute less. I have a three-hour round-trip commute on Metro-North every day, so I must be fairly miserable. Particularly since I am increasingly enraged by the behavior of my fellow riders.
After being laid off from Lehman Brothers in the wake of its bankruptcy, I was desperate to find another job to support my new mortgage and starving-actor husband. When a position opened in Stamford, Conn., I was more than willing to reverse commute.
So now I start my quest for a good seat on the 7:24 from Grand Central. A coveted spot has no spilled liquids, trash or unidentifiable backpacks underneath. No loud neighbors, cellphone talkers or headphone users with music blasting so the whole car can hear. Stinky egg salad sandwiches should be banned, as well as individuals who sit in the middle spot of a three-seater just to hog the row.
If I ever win the lottery, I will volunteer as a Metro-North etiquette monitor. I'll take great pleasure in shushing loud conversations and people who sing along to their iPods. There would be swift punishment for any rolling of the eyes when someone requests the empty seat next to you. Expect a fine for a passenger taking 10 seconds or more to collect her gym bag, oversized designer handbag or laptop -- whatever it is that has taken precedence over the human being standing in the aisle of the fast-moving, swerving train.
You might suggest I commute in the "quiet car." But there is no escape from the underlying lack of regard for human decency that pervades these trains. Cue the hygiene obscenities: People clipping toenails and making little piles of them on the seat. Nose pickers and wipers. Coughers, snifflers and snorers. The sneezer who fails to cover his mouth. Worst is the pungent body odor permeating a train car on a hot summer day.
As for the multitude of lovebirds who find the train to be the perfect venue for groping, perhaps they have the right idea. In the spirit of Brooks' suggestion, figuring out how to have sex on your commute may be a great compromise. That, or working from home with your significant other, role-playing about punishing intolerable train passengers.
Stacey Becker lives on the Upper East Side and blogs at OfficeStace.com.