Approximately 5.2 million people ride the New York City Subway each day. While this number appears staggering, I believe it is misleading.
Through my experiences riding the rails, I’ve seen the same six people waiting on every platform. Their names and faces may be different but these specific passengers are omnipresent underground. Whether you’re taking the A up the west side or the Z downtown, I guarantee your body will awkwardly sway into at least one of the following.
6. The Riding Rabbi
A crammed subway car in sweltering July heat is uncomfortable at best. I can only imagine what it’s like when you’re draped in a dark wool coat and a giant felt hat. Combine that with the knowledge that you’re going home to a bushy-browed wife, six kids and limited electricity allotment and you have the life of the Riding Rabbi. On every train in New York City, you will encounter a weary Hasidic Jew. Whether he’s mumbling ancient scripture to himself or stroking his day-moistened beard, you’ve got to give the Riding Rabbi props. He’s fighting a losing battle against modernization, assimilation, and delicious bacon. People say Jews run the city, tell that to the Riding Rabbi!
5. La Tourista
There are two breeds of La Tourista; domestic and imported. Domestic Touristas can be indentified by their cargo shorts, cell phone belt clips and running sneakers. Imported Touristas are spotted by their messenger bags, fauxhawks, and running sneakers as well (except with something weird like a Rooster or a Kangaroo on the side, not a good ol’ Swoosh). Whether you’ve lived here all your life or moved in last month, nothing will give you a more underserved sense of superiority than watching a Tourista fumble with a guide map on the subway. Better yet, take in a Tourista trying to make sense of those subway route maps plastered on the walls. Good luck, Günther, those things look my Grandma’s varicose veins and are just as beneficial.
4. The Way Too Into It Rap Guy
The Way Too Into It Rap Guy loves hip-hop, and thinks, nay, knows that the morning commute is the most appropriate venue to showcase his obsession. Even on quiet rides, you will always hear the faint blares of a Rick Ross track reverberating from the Way Too Into It Rap Guy’s Beats by Dre. The Way Too Into It Rap Guy turns listening to music from a passive activity to an active performance. He bobs his head like a rooster, slices the air with his hands, and if you listen closely, you can hear him recite rhymes through muted tones; “mermermer..MUTHAFUCKA..mermer..NIGGAS…mermer..PHILLIPSEYMOUR-HOFFMAN”. I’d like to think that once he gets off the train, he becomes Dennis, the affable printer specialist Best Buy. But underground he will forever be, The Way Too Into It Rap Guy.
3. The King (or Queen) of Concentration
Subway readers. It’s ironic; their activity of choice is decidedly innocuous, yet out of all six passenger categories, The King (or Queen) Of Concentration bothers me the most. My contempt stems from a combination of confusion and jealousy.
WHO CAN FOCUS ON A BOOK IN A JARRING AND WHIRRING METALLIC TUBE TRAVELING AT 55MPH?!
Whether a Queen is re-reading her shitty screenplay before class or a King is thumbing through his BlackBerry emails, I am astonished at their ability to ignore distractions. Shit, in the process of writing this article, I’ve already refreshed Facebook 15 times and masturbated twice.
Listen, I understand that people are busy and don’t always have the luxury of free time to take in a book in private. I just find it hard to believe that this dude sitting next to me is really contemplating Nietzsche while a mariachi band is strumming in his face.
Sidenote: What is every person reading their phones on the subway doing really? It’s a well-known fact that no one gets Wi-Fi down there. I would love to peek over one of these people’s shoulders. Definitely scrolling up and down their contact list in a feeble attempt to look busy. Smug cocksuckers.
2. The Soliloquy-Spouting Homeless Person
Okay, so it’s really The Monologue-Spouting Homeless Person. What can I say; I’m a sucker for alliterations. The Soliloquy-Spouting Homeless Person is inherent to New York City mass transit. When the train arrives at a stop he enters. Once the doors close, he recites a speech about his descent into poverty. This is followed by a brief solicitation for spare change as he walks up and down the aisle. By the time the doors open again, he’s gone, on to the next car. It’s a well-timed endeavor.
I sympathize with anyone who has to beg for money, but something about the Soliloquy-Spouting Homeless Man’s routine feels a tad disingenuous. Let me get this straight; you’re an orphan AND you’re addicted to PCP AND you just tested positive AND you have to support 17 kids? Whatever happened to just being a bum? Believe me, It’s fine. You’ll get the same level of sympathy regardless from Manhattan’s jaded travelers.
I feel like any day now the Soliloquy-Spouting Homeless Man is just going to start ripping off movie plots. “You see ladies and gentleman, that is why I need your tribute if I am ever going to compete in this year’s Hunger Games"
1. The Wildcard
The Wildcard is basically anyone who distracts you during your ride for a previously unmentioned reason. So technically, the Wildcard can be hundreds of different types. But they all serve the same purpose. Whether unintentional or purposeful, they silence the internal dialogue you were having in your head before they got on board. (Mine is typically about how I’m wasting my life away). Popular Wildcards include Masturbating Crazy Man, Creepy Accordion Player, Urban Youth Field Trip, and my personal favorite, Potential Terrorist.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this, and remember, a crowded subway car is no excuse for unwanted sexual contact.