Catching up on my light reading, I perused the NYC Transit Rules of Conduct and Fines while riding the D train downtown last weekend.
Good news! I discovered that violations of subway etiquette such as leaning on a pole, wide stance sitting and holding a door open for your slow-footed, cackling friends are all against the rules and carry stiff fines.
The bad news is no one enforces them.
That’s right, we’re on our own. So what to do?
I recently encountered a pole hogger slouched against the pole during rush hour. When he leaned away for a moment, I grabbed the pole, with my middle knuckle slightly extended. When he leaned back again the fun began.
“Yahh!” he gasped, turning and glaring. But by that time four others had also grabbed the pole, while I gave him the “Do you have a problem?” look. Hey, civilizing self-absorbed subway nitwits is a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. (For some reason, that one’s not covered in the Rules of Conduct and Fines.)
Some of the rules seem a bit strange and arbitrary. For example, carrying a long object on a subway or bus brings a $75 fine, the same amount as riding on the outside of a subway car. Meanwhile, smoking will cost you only $50.
What prompted my sudden fascination with this reading material? When I boarded the train on Saturday, a wide-stance guy was taking up two seats, while shopping-bag-lady-from-Macy’s was taking up three. I quickly Googled the rules, and yep, it was right there under Seat Obstruction: Riders may not “occupy more than one seat.”
A citizen’s arrest? Not wide-stance guy. Yes, the male anatomy requires a bit more room to accommodate it — but not that much. This guy had the same defiant look as door-blocker guy. You know, that “I dare you to say something” look. I’ll bet a $50 fine would wipe that sneer off his face.
Meanwhile, backpack-tourist guy almost took my head off when he swung around to talk to his British mates. I looked through the rules. Yep, carrying hazardous or obstructive objects, $75 fine.
Of course, none of these fines were imposed. But we can dream, can’t we?
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.