Power to the People!

Trends & Culture - January 30th, 1981

by Peter Ward

Subway Strategy

For those who risk takuon poisoning in the rush hour in the morning and often alcohol poisoning during th rush hour at night, I’m sure you have noticed the following subway types.

1)    The Subway Veteran: He or she flashes her pass like a veteran FBI agent on a second visit to an arrested gang member. It’s a time-saving pleasure to walk behind these people.

2)    The Occasional Traveler: He and she holds onto the ticket and waits for someone to tell them where to drop it. They seem to stop in mid-wicket to wait for a receipt. They should be gently pushed or carried, it might discourage them from traveling during rush hour.

3)    The Leaner: Usually he, stands between the doors and holds on to nothing. Instead he leans on the nearest body. The best policy is to lean back on your heels and “do unto others before they do unto you.”

4)    The Individualist: He exits and stops two feet from the door and lights up a cigarette for all to share. Possibly gives him great feeling of power as he rapes the morning air. Whether they learned this boorishness at their mother’s knee or some other joint I’ll never know. If “accidentally” bumped hard from behind the cigarette may get lost.

5)    The Mover: He—more usually she—has one quarter of her possessions on her back or in a furoshiki. Once in the train she heads for the farthest away exit. She could teach Earl Camp­bell how to go through people. To avoid this type the only escape is to kneel on the lap or knees of someone already sitting. When the mover passes, “domo” will assuage any hurt feelings or crimped skirts.

6)    The Reader: He can’t wait to devour the morning news before it gets any staler. As he opens the newspaper wide you get a nose full of newsprint. To discourage this type, stretch out your hand quickly as if falling and get a feel for the written language. Very successful. Also add “domo.”

7)    The Cheap Reader: He rests his chin on your shoulder as he reads someone else’s magazine. Tie your shoe or lean to one side suddenly. I feel a magazine is like a wife, one should have one’s own and not try to take advantage of one’s neighbors.

8)    The Professor: He forgets to get off until everyone else has come in. This type is most dangerous and is best side-stepped. During the rainy season umbrella wielding versions of the above could prove fatal.

9)    The Magician: Is usually the one who stops in front of you at the wicket gate when you are rushing. He—more usually she—has caused the ticket to vanish. If time permitted, it would be interesting to view the contents of handbags and pockets, but when you’re late you end up behind the slowest commuter. (Is this some kind of law?) Be ready to jump over the gate or crash the other line.

10)    The Doorman: This kind is planted at the side of the door and is as immovable as a shrine guardian statue. Best tactic is to avoid or walk on his toes. He seems to be emotionally deprived and yearns for a cheap squeeze or some kind of human contact. Seldom visible after rush hour.

11)    The Fifth Columnist: This is when you are lucky enough to be seated and mother puts one of her brats in the seat beside you and decides to stand herself. After receiving a few kicks and a dribbling memento of the brat’s last meal on your clothes it’s prudent to have a relapse of chivalry and let mother sit down. (Offering one’s seat to a brat has reverse educational value.)

12)    The Treasure Hunter: Usually female, who forms a transcendental relationship with an empty seat. In your sub-con­scious the battle between etiquette and competitiveness rages, but it’s often best to let the “weaker” sex win. “Vidi” seems to assure “vici” even if “veni” is a little delayed.

13)    The Sleeper: He or she uses your shoulder as a pillow and inclines head so that you can perform a dandruff inspection. Of course if you are a sitting version of number 10 above and the sleeper is well… you do nothing. If undesirable sleeper breathe heavily into his ear or move upper torso as if discoing.

14)    The Observer: This type of individual just observes all the other types.

I hope I have not overlooked any types. I’m just holding my breath until we have reserved seats on the subway.