How Not To Die On The NYC Subway

Ok, ok. I know the title of this sounds a little dramatic, but let me explain.

The New York City subway can be a dangerous place, or as we New Yorkers prefer to call it, “the train”. In 2017 there were 181 incidents involving people coming in contact with trains, 44 were deaths. But I’m not just talking about this kind of death involving the subway, despite it being important. I’m mainly talking about the everyday hustle and bustle of riding the MTA. Whether you live in New York or you’re just visiting the city, here are some of the ways you can make your subway experience super fun more tolerable.

Since we already touched on the serious stuff, let’s just wrap it up here. Watch the damn gap, ok? The last you want to happen is to get jammed in that little area between the train and the platform. Did I create a horrific image there for you? Well sorry, but it’s no joke. I know too many people who know someone who has gotten injured from not paying attention to that gap. Or people who have witnessed someone fall in there. So just be careful ok. And do what the warning labels say. They’re there for a reason. Watch the gap, Stand clear of the platform edge, Do not hold doors, all that good stuff.

One thing I learned very early on while taking the subway was that if a car is suspiciously empty during a busy time of the day, you most likely want to follow your instincts and avoid it. If you make the same mistake I did, you’ll end up in a car that combines all the worst smells on earth in one; dirt, body odor, rotten food, feces maybe? Homeless people sleep on the subway all the time so do yourself a favor and try not to get stuck in a car they’ve made their home. And if you do, jump off at the next stop and switch cars. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Speaking of the homeless, (yes it’s sad to see all the time) some of them are straight up douchebags. Watch out for those ones. No one should ever be forcing you to cough up change if you don’t want to. If you feel compelled to give something, then be my guest. But remember that there’s tons of people turning them down everyday. Ignore the beggars and panhandlers who try to make everyone on the train feel like shit for not helping them. You can’t save the world with your coin purse. The only people I ever truly feel like donating to are the performers or ones that try to at least give you something in return. And let me tell you, there are some true talents out there. Violin players, singers, dancers, magicians, you name it and I’ve probably seen it on the subway.

Headphones are your lifeline in New York, if I haven’t made that clear already. If you wanna avoid being talked to by strangers, or worse, then pop those babies in. I wear mine all the time, whether I’m listening to music or not. It keeps the crazies away, ’cause you know we got plenty of those. Mostly I just do it for my own safety not because I think those people are nuts and not worthy of being listened to. I just don’t know what some of them are capable of and I avoid confrontation anyway so I’m not exactly inclined to get into a fight with someone on the train.

*Just a quick note: If you wear headphones, don’t forget to stay aware of your surroundings and pay attention to the people around you. Plus, you might need to listen to the train conductors announcements once in a while so be wary of that too.

There are oftentimes announcements that run across the screen on the train giving you warnings from the NYC police department just reminding everyone to keep their belongings with them at all times and watch for suspicious activity. The thing most tourists worry about with riding the subway is getting their shit stolen. Despite how rare that is, it is a reality. Be smart, keep your stuff close to you, and always in your sight, especially when it comes to carrying groceries or other shopping acquisitions home with you. Open bags are an easy target for pick-pocketers too, just as a general note. Don’t go all “clutching your bag for dear life” on people because that’s another way to direct attention to yourself. Act natural, but be mindful.

Most things about the subway, we just cannot control. The delays, the skipped stops, the smells and more importantly, the temperature. The train cars are all air conditioned, nice right? Yeah, sure. But the stations are hot as hell. Like unbearably hot sometimes. In the summer its terrible because you’ve already walked to the station in the heat and then once you get underground it just kicks up another 5 degrees. In the colder months it the opposite. You walk round on the street level with your fall jacket or your winter parka. But once again, you get down into that station and its a goddamn sauna. You really can’t win here, I’m just gonna be honest with you. So mentally prepare yourself for profuse sweating and uncomfortable stickiness.

Comment below if you have a good public transport story and share this post to save a life!

Thanks for reading!

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