Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Drive-by Joker

Ever been having a lousy day, then, as if it they were sent by some higher being, have a stranger come along and make it all better?

A few days ago, I had a death in my family. It's been awhile since I've had to deal with such a thing, and the hours leading up to the inevitable news had me reeling at work. I was snapping at anyone who stiffed me (and by "anyone", I mean "everyone." Everyone stiffed me.) On top of getting zero reward for my manual labor, every taxi driver in the city wanted a piece of me, so I found myself getting into more altercations in the first two hours of my shift than I'd had in the last few months combined. 

It happened on that extremely busy Manhattan avenue. My "office", where I face oncoming traffic, screaming "cunt" and "cocksucker" at every shitbag cabbie who didn't want to take the guest who wasn't going to tip me anyway. All I wanted to do was go home, see my family, and wait out the death of my grandpa. 

I don't hide my emotions well. When I get pissed off, I get pissed off. When I don't like someone, I don't like someone. When I'm happy, I'm fucking happy. It's all right there, etched on the surface of my face like a neon marquis. People may think it's a bad quality in a person, particularly someone who works in my industry. I happen to think the opposite. It's a fantastic quality. Why? Because you always know where you stand with me. But who the fuck am I, right? 

I digress. Where was I? 

Right... I was pissed off. In the street. Facing oncoming traffic. There were cunts being cunts all around me. 

A brand-spanking-new, silver Mercedes pulled up next to me. I didn't pay attention to it. I wanted nothing to do with whatever catastrophe this shiny piece of German machinery had in store for me. The window rolled down. 

My eyes panned down to the left, ever-so-slightly. Staring back at me was an older gentleman, the type of man that's been a negative motif in my career as a doorman: A guido.  

Not today, I thought. The last thing I need is a fucking tough guy. 

I waited for him to swing his dick around, or to rudely ask me for directions and drive off without saying thank you, or start trouble. What kind of trouble? I have no idea. But it was the kind of day where the simplest thing can turn ugly for me. It's happened time and time again.

He slid his glasses down the bridge of his nose, then smirked a devilish, troublesome grin, like a teenager about to make a prank call during a sleepover. 

Guido - "What did the blind man say when he walked past the fish market?" 


I didn't say anything. In fact, I flinched, because the image of him taking out a giant fish from the passenger seat and slapping me in the face with it flashed through my brain.

I stared at him, waiting to see how I wouldn't benefit from this. 

His face gleamed with joy and pride as he delivered his punchline:

Guido - "Helloooooo ladies!!!" 

And then he peeled out. No hesitation, no waiting to see what my reaction would be, no massive trout slapping me across the cheek. He simply told his joke, then got the fuck out before I could ask one simple question: 


Think about this for one second. This guy was driving around Manhattan, pulling up next to strangers and telling a crude joke, then booking it before he could see their reactions.

Who the fuck does that?!?!

I hate to use this exaggeration because it's a huge peeve of mine, but that was the hardest I've ever laughed at this job. And I've seen some funny shit (like a homeless man screaming "my dick will eat you" at tourists, to name one). 

It wasn't the joke, which I probably heard for the first time in grammar school. It was just the randomness of it that sent me into a seemingly eternal cackle-fit. Did he see that I was upset, and wanted to make my day a little better? Or was he just driving around and telling jokes to random doormen? Did he read it online at work, but couldn't tell it for the whole day because he works in an office where he's the only man in a pack of hardcore feminists?!? Why did he pick that particular joke? How many times has he done the before? What was he getting out of this?!? 

I had so many questions!!! 

If I believed in this sort of thing, in a world where I was a spiritual man, I'd like to think that it were a gift from my departed loved one. I'd like to think that he were sending me a chuckle, when I really, really needed it, as he floated up to heaven. One last pat on the shoulder before they opened up the gates for him, and he hit the open bar.

Unfortunately, after thirty years of life, I don't believe in this sort of thing. Though I must admit, it's sometimes fun to think about. 

Whatever the case may be, it put a smile on my face. And that's all I could ask for during a time like this. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Doorman Sees the Repercussions of His Antics

Maybe it's my blog catching on amongst doormen in New York City. Or maybe this is an age-old trick that those who came before me have been doing for as long as my profession has been in existence.

Whatever the case, this is hilarious (if you've been reading my blog for a long time, you will also find it to be a wonderful treat):

It was a slow night, and I was pacing around the sidewalk near the street, as I usually do when I'm completely losing my sanity after hours of redundancy and public humilation. 

I'm glad I was out there and not dicking around somewhere in the lobby, because I saw a beautiful sight- a hatch-back taxi slowly driving down the Manhattan avenue, with the trunk wide open, and the cabbie completely oblivious. 

At the time I didn't think anything of it. I thought it were just some guy who forgot to close his trunk after he dropped people off, so I raised my hand and yelled out to him. 

Doorman - "Yo! Buddy!" 

He pulled over as if I were hailing him. He rolled down the window, and it appeared that he were calming down from a previous confrontation. 

Cabbie - "Yes, sir?" 

Doorman - "Oh, I don't have a fair, my friend. Your trunk is open."

I shut it. 

Doorman - "There ya go. Have a good night, buddy." 

He said nothing. A tremor of wild tension rumbled toward me from his blackened eyes. His face began to quiver with rage as a madness washed over his sunken demeanor. Whatever conflict he had just come out of, I'd inadvertently reignited it. 

Cabbie - "Mother fucking cock sucker fucking doorman mother fucker!!! I'LL FUCK HIS ASS!!!" 

He whipped the steering wheel all the way to the right, then peeled out as if were the getaway driver in a botched armored car heist. 

He had a destination in mind, and it was cleary after the doorman who'd inspired that colorful symphony of rapey swears. 

At first, I was confused. Then I saw the image that sent me into a cackle-fit: 

A doorman, who had whatever altercation with the cabbie, proudly watching his little hatch-back taxi take off down the street. The doorman who knew the cabbie had left thinking he'd won, only to be stopped by some Good Samaritan along the way, pointing out that he were driving around with his trunk wide-open, like an asshole. The doorman who probably thought that the altercation was over. 

Now the cabbie was on his was back for more. 

I'd hate to start trouble for a fellow doorman, but the cabbie's discovery of his little game was inevitable.  

And it's nice to see that I'm having an impact. Somewhere. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Welcome to Chinatown - A Quickie

Here's a conversation I had with a non-guest passer-by who interrupted me while I was mid-sentence with a guest whom I particularly liked:

Rude Jaggoff - "HOW DO I GET TO CHINATOWN?!?!"

Doorman (doesn't look at him) - Excuse me, I'm talking to someone. (back to the guest) So anyway, when you're at CitiField, check out Keith's Grill. It's the best burger in-"

Rude Jaggoff - "EXCUSE ME!"

Guest - "Go ahead, it's fine."

With the guest's blessing, I turn to the Rude Jaggoff.

Doorman - "Yes."

Rude Jaggoff - "HOW DO I GET TO CHINATOWN?!?"

Doorman - "Take the Q train right over here on the corner. Headed downtown. Get out at Canal."

I turn back to my guest.

Doorman - "Make sure you get the Mex Burger, it has jalepen-"


Doorman - "You get off the train and there will be Canal Street. On one side, there will be a big sign, with big bright lights that says, 'Welcome to Chinatown'. The other side of Canal will not have this sign."

I turn back to my guest.

Doorman - "Anyway... the line is a little long, but it's worth-"

Rude Jaggoff - "AND WHICH SIDE DO I GO TO?!?!"

And then he died.

5 Little Victories Hotel Employees Had Without you Noticing

Working with the public sucks. Working with a public that's out of their element is even worse. Hotel employees have a distinction from the rest of the food/beverage/hospitality industry where we're stuck with people for an extended period of time, thus have to adapt to their living habits. I, for one, think it's bull shit. They're our guests. Yes, our job is to make people feel comfortable. Yes, people spend a lot of money per night and should be treated accordingly. And yes, the customer is always right.

Though let's face it- for every doughy-eyed, whipping-post putz who takes pride in an excellent guest experience, there's ten others who are just there to get through the day, make their money, and get the fuck out of there without punching somebody in the throat.

I've said it before and I'll say it again- whenever you're acting like a jerk-off to a hotel employee, just remember that you're burning your face into their minds, and the likelihood of getting your way then, or for the rest of your stay, become increasingly slim. We're human beings. We're vindictive and spiteful and jaded and bitter. Don't mistake the big smile and high-pitched, apologetic voice for weakness. We're simply going through the motions to get you the fuck out of there, so we can wait patiently for an opportunity to exact revenge.

One of my favorite pieces of Jacob Tomsky's Head's in Beds, is where he talks about room 1212 in his hotel. It was one of the nicest rooms they had, and he reserved it for the people who treated him the worst. Why reward them for being an asshole, you ask? Because the area code in Manhattan is "212". In almost every hotel you go to, you have to dial "9" to make an outgoing call. If you don't, you'll simply dial numbers till it calls whatever room you've put in. Many, many people, especially foreigners, don't know that.

Now, every time some dude comes back to his room in the middle of the night, shit-canned drunk and in need of Dominoes chicken bites, he would pick up his phone and dial "1-212", and it would go straight to the asshole's room. Any poor schmuck who was the recipient of that room would receive a nightly barrage of wake-up calls due to people not knowing they had to press "9" to dial out. Genius.

So this guy was an asshole to his front desk agent and never had a good night's sleep through his entire stay. And he likely had no idea why.

While his memoir is the ultimate guide on how to treat a front desk agent, there are many more ways to screw yourself after crossing the wrong employee. Like me.

With that, here's my personal list of little victories hotel employees gain that you likely never thought twice about:

1- Refusing Bellman Help, then Getting Lost. 

I occasionally work inside as a bellman. While I have zero tolerance for people not tipping me on the door, I completely understand why many refuse to be taken up to a room by a bellman. The logic for the bellman accompanying the guest up to the rooms (in the industry, we call it a "front"), is that he's there to make sure the keys work, there's no essentials missing (soaps, towels, etc.), and it's the correct room you've booked. Also the obvious - to assist with any luggage.

The guest logic is, for the most part, that if both the reservations and front desk agents are doing their jobs correctly, there would be no reason for this fucking beggar to be taking me up to my room.

Why does he need to come with me if I only have one carry-on suitcase?

To be honest, I'm kind of with the guests on that one. Though a good bellman is able to warmly welcome them to the city, strike up a conversation in the elevator, find out how they can help the guest throughout their stay, and, in the case of there being something wrong with the room, fix the problem without the guest having to go downstairs.

Though most people don't see it that way. It happens all the time - the bell rings, I walk over with a packet of maps, City Guides, and brochures like an imbecile - and the guest looks at me like I'm a piece of garbage, refusing my help.

There's something about that whip-around that they do when the front desk agent dooms them with that sentence, "The bellman has your keys and will show you up to the room to make sure everything is okay."

Guest - "NO! NO! NO!!!! I'VE GOT IT!!! I CAN FIND IT!!! GIVE ME THOSE!!!"

They snatch them out of my hand, grab their suitcase...

And walk towards the wrong elevator.

Most front desk agents will take a bellman's side on this one:

Let them go.

Many hotels, especially in New York City, have several different wings and towers where rooms are located. On my particular property, there are three. So there's a 66% chance that the guest will talk onto the wrong elevator.

They'll take the elevator up to the floor, walk every inch of it trying to find the phantom room, maybe attempt to open the wrong one. Then, they'll have to take the elevator back down to the lobby, find an employee, and ask where their room is located.

My brown eyes light up with glee when I see the sight of some asshole who dismisses me, stupidly walking out of the elevator with a key envelope in one hand and his suitcase in the other.

If you had just let me show you up to the room, thrown me a couple of bucks and treated me with some respect, you'd already be in your room relaxing. Not coming back to me in the lobby with your tail between your legs.

2- Sending a Guest to a Famous Tourist Trap That Sucks 

Tourist traps are called tourist traps for a reason. How do you think they get that name? By putting out a shitty, overpriced product with zero consequence because they know they're going to continue to get gaggles of out-of-towners who don't know any better.

The best example I can give of this is Ray's Pizza, a "famous" pizza chain in New York City. It's funny how you can make something "famous" by simply putting "famous" in the title. In this case, "famous" really means "shitting blood later".

Somehow, word got out that this piece-of-shit slice is a NYC staple. Any decent, pizza-respecting New Yorker wouldn't send his worst enemy walking into one of these joints.

But an angry, spiteful doorman who just got stiffed by a guest would absolutely do so.

Stiff - "Where's the best place to get a slice of pizza around here?"

Doorman - "Oh... well, sir. If you're in New York City, you gotta have Ray's. I mean, it's the quintessential slice around these parts! It's just two blocks down on the right hand side. Enjoy, sir! Enjoy!"

Now you've been completely disappointed in your first NYC slice, and you're going to spend the rest of your days completely misguided, telling everyone at home that you think the pizza in New York is overrated.

I'm going to Texas for the first time in September. The first thing I'm going to do is tip my doorman something nice, and ask where his favorite BBQ joint is located. I'd advise you try this practice.

3- Letting a Guest Explain Where They're Going in a Taxi

Say I'm in the rain trying to get a taxi for your for twenty some-odd minutes, and you scamper into the car with your family without tipping or thanking me.

Instead of sharply telling the driver, "They're going to 28th and 6th", decreasing the odds of his sniffing that you're not from around these parts and taking the scenic route to the destination, I just shut the door and walk away.

Now you're stuck to tell the cabbie, "eehhhhh... 1365... ehhhh... Avenue of the Americas."

Had you given a couple of dollars to the guy who just made an effort to help you out, you wouldn't be spending an extra five on the guy who's now ripping you off.

4- Booking Shuttle Buses for More Money Than It's Worth.

This was one of the first acts of revenge I used to play out while I worked as a concierge. Since I wasn't making any money off car service commissions (or any airport transportation, for that matter), I didn't really give a fuck about how people got to the airport.

So let's say you're an asshole. You're an asshole to the front desk, you're an asshole to the doorman, and you're an asshole to the concierge.

You're an asshole who has three other people in your party and you need to get back to JFK airport:

Asshole - "Hi, I'm a fucking asshole and I need to get my family back to JFK airport. Is there a shuttle service?"

Concierge - "Why, yes there is, sir! The shuttle service we provide is $24 per person. It's a shared ride to the airport, which will pick up at several other hotels, but will take you directly to your terminal when it is your turn. Since it's a shared ride, it will pick you up 4 and a half hours before your flight to allow for delays with other passengers. That will be $96 dollars, please!"

Now let's say you're a nice person who has three other people in your party and you need to go back to JFK airport:

Nice Person- "Hi, I've treated you with dignity and I need to get my family back to JFK airport. Is there a shuttle service?

Concierge- "There is, but I don't recommend it. You see, it's called a shuttle "bus", but in reality it's a 10 pax van, which will be crammed to the brim with other smelly tourists and crying babies. They'll show up 25 minutes late, stop at at least 3 other hotels and every terminal before yours, and will put you in an absolutely wretched mood before you have to spend 5 hours on a plane. I recommend taking a yellow taxi, which is $58 plus tip, or one of our car services, which run between $70 and $95. Both of which are private and take you door to door."

Nice Person- "Wow! That's great advice, concierge! Here's five bucks! Say, can you recommend a good pizza place around here?"

Concierge- "Why, yes! Try this little hidden gem on 46th and 8th called Patzeria. You'll thank me later!"

5- Valet Vengeance 

Most people don't realize this, but there are almost always two people who will ultimately handle your car when you valet it in a garage. And I'll tell you something you've likely never heard before - it's more important to tip the guy on the way inside.


Because if you give the guy a couple of bucks on the way inside, he won't bury it. He'll keep it as close as he possibly can, so you won't have to wait long to get it out. Most parking garages have multiple levels and elevators that they have to operate, and if you take care of the guy who parks it for you, you'll get out of there that much quicker when you pick it up. What I always try and tell people who park in a garage is that you should tip $5 or $6 total. $3 to the guy parking it, then the rest to the guy picking it up.

Another important reason is that if you give him a tip, he'll be that much more careful when parking the thing. He'll think twice about dinging up the bummer or putting it in a super-tight spot with in between two Ford F-150's.

How does this apply to dealing with a hotel employee?

I'm the guy who reports to the valet on what kind of person you are. I don't particularly expect people to tip me when I'm just simply accepting the car without handling luggage. In a perfect world, I'd get $2-$5 for every time I take a vehicle, but let's not get all sillypants. If I carry all of your shit inside and you don't give me anything, I simply inform the valet that it's a stiff. He, in turn, will bury it as deeply into the garage as he can to make room for the generous people.

What also burns me, is when people smugly make requests that requires me to bend the rules, then don't take care of me.

One quick example:

In my hotel and most others, it's a flat rate for up to 24 hours of parking. Once you exceed the 24 hours, even by a minute, you get charged for the entire second day. For instance, there are times where someone will come at 4pm and tell me that they need to take it out at around 5pm the next day. I'll explain the rules in a very meticulous, obvious way, letting them know that I can hold off on calling the garage to come pick it up.

Nine times out of ten, the guest catches my drift and gives me anywhere between $5-$10 to hold off as long as they need to. That avoids the second-day charge, saving them $25-$30. I'm happy, they're happy. It's a win-win.

Then there's the one idiot who doesn't get it. The guy who looks at me like I shouldn't be breathing his air, and cockily smirks and says, "Why don't you hold off on calling it in for a couple of hours, okay chief?"

Doorman - "Yes, sir!"

He goes inside. I call immediately. Tell the garage the exact time to the minute when he pulled up. Tell the garage to bury it so he has to wait an extra 10-15 minutes longer.

Then, the next day when he has a $70 charge and has to wait 45 minutes for his car to come, he doesn't tip me anyway.

But the tip is peanuts compared to the sheer joy and entertainment I will get from listening angrily rant and rave about how life isn't fair and blah blah blah go fuck yourself.

But it all could have been avoided with a couple of bucks and a little respect.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Doorman's 10 Ways to Ride the Subway Like a New Yorker

I've been riding the New York City subway for as long as I can remember. I know it like the back of my hand, and if you plop me anywhere, in any borough, I can find my way home without so much as visualizing a map in my head. On top of that, I know where to position myself in most subway terminals to put me right in the entrance to the next train in which I'll be making a transfer. Meaning if I'm on the Bronx-bound 2 train needing to transfer to the Q, I know that I have to be in the third car on the 2, which will leave me right at the north side entrance to the Q when I get off in Times Square, which cuts my walking time to the transfer by 2 minutes, which allows me to catch an earlier train without having to walk an extra two blocks when I get above ground, thus cutting my commuting time to work by about 4 minutes.

Got all of that?

I know you don't, but it's okay. I'm here to help.

Tourists are generally terrified of the subway. And, believe it or not, it's mostly Americans. Foreign travelers are usually fine and will give it a crack, even if they will drive you fucking bananas asking for directions. Americans, on the other hand (generally mid-westerners), are under the assumption that there's a residential rapist and mugger in each terminal, eager to introduce you to the rat-infested cesspool that movies and television have made it out to be. (For the record, I find the rats to be adorable.)

I rarely find myself in a situation where I'm in any sort of altercation. Nor will I ever find myself on the train going the wrong direction, or accidentally wind up in Brooklyn at 2am. Why? Because I know what I'm doing. Though it took years of commuting daily to figure it out.

Yes, some places can be dangerous. And yes, it's less safe at night. But if you follow these simple rules of subway etiquette, you'll A) save yourself a shitload of money on taxis. B) come out of your vacation having felt like you've really experienced New York City:

1- Be mindful of who's behind you. 

No, I'm not insinuating that there's going to be a knife-wielding homeless man or a minion from hell standing behind you at all times. Though the former totally possible, I'm referring to being in a crowded subway car.

Always make sure that whatever backpack or man-bag or purse you're wearing be tucked in front to you, to avoid swinging it around and hitting someone who's walking around looking for an altercation. Also, be conscious of your ass. Like, seriously, never have your ass in someone's face.

I once had a girlfriend who was notoriously unaware of her surroundings no matter where we went. We'd be at a concert, and she'd be dancing like no one's watching in tight quarters, and next thing I knew, she'd smashed the poor person sitting in front of her with her kneecap. One time, on the 4 train, she backed her ass up within an inch of the face of a scary, giant, terrifying albino black man. Picture Charles Barkley, but a crayon-like white. He took it for a second, giving her a moment to realize what she was doing and adjust herself, being that there was plenty of room for her to go. Then, as she took out her pocket-mirror check herself out, the man took his hand and pushed her ass out of his face.

Now of course I had to get involved. Not only because he pushed my girlfriend, but because she shrilly screamed "HE JUST GRABBED BY ASS" for the whole subway car to hear. Then, in a bit of delicious irony, he muttered "white bitch" under his breath.

The rest of the story is pretty simple: I yelled at him to appease my pride and defend her honor or whatever, he stared at me with the "anywhere else and I'd fucking shank you, but there are too many witnesses and I'm on parole" look.

Was he wrong for the way he handled it? Of course. It's never okay to put your hands on a woman. That's not my point. The moral is that if my girlfriend had been considerate and minded what was going on behind her, we never would have been put in that position. You're not always going to be standing behind someone who will be polite enough to say, "excuse me, ma'am, would you kindly remove your buttocks from in front of my face? I'm trying to read."

What it really boils down to is respecting people's space, however sparse said space may be.

2- If someone is being a loudmouth or acting like a lunatic, NEVER make eye contact. 

I made this rookie move the other day (which is what inspired me to write this post). There's nothing worse than that moment where you're listening to someone ramble on about something completely insane, only to get caught up and have them catch you eavesdropping on their conversation.

I was on the 2 headed towards the Bronx, when this obviously drugged-out woman with massive gums and small teeth was theatrically venting to her friend about her baby daddy drama. I was listening to a podcast, so I could make out some of it, though I wasn't particularly interested in what she had to say. I just could not. stop. looking. at. her. mouth. There were about 2 inches of gums and tic tacs for teeth (what was left of them). It's a terrible quality of mine to stare at people who have this unfortunate characteristic (that, and lazy eyes). I'm working on it.

She must have caught on to my staring, so during a lull moment in what I was listening to I found myself panning up to her eye, where she was looking dead at me. I could read her lips:

Big Gums - "What are you looking at, you white mothafucka?!?"

(I'm actually half Puerto Rican, but that's not important.)

Now, here's where my experience kicks in. Despite my silly goof, I just looked at her confused, smiled, and made sure that I never looked up from my phone again. And, even more importantly, I never pulled the earphone out to acknowledge what she was saying. Did I listen? Of course I did:

Big Gums - "You best keep lookin' yo mothafuckin' phone you white-ass mothafucka or I'll come over there and put my foot up yo mothafuckin' assho!!! Sittin' there lookin' at ma mouth like he wants to put his little white dick in it, fuck outta here with that boooooshit!"

You get the idea. I had about five stops to go before I got off, so the ride was pretty nerve-wracking. Mostly because I had to suppress a savage urge to burst out laughing. She eventually tired herself out, which I accredited to the headphones. Seriously, headphones are important. People will leave you alone if you're staring at your phone with headphones on. It's like an imaginary forcefield.

So avoid eye contact with psychos, because once you lock pupils, you're inviting them to come and try you. And ain't nobody got time for that.

3 - When you hear someone yell "Ladies and Gentlemen..."

Here's a little blurp from my post The Doorman's Guide to Not Getting Ripped Off in NYC - Part II:

The Subway Monologist

There's a reason I wear headphones on my subway commute every day. At least once, before I get off the train, someone gets on and delivers a heartbreaking monologue that sounds something like this:

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so very sorry to interrupt you today, but I am in desperate need of your help. I was recently laid off from my job, just days after my diagnosis of bone marrow cancer. And, just yesterday, a freak electrical fire has burned down our home. Now, my pregnant wife and our five children are without a place to live, or anything to eat. If you could give anything, just a little, it would help us immensely. Thank you very much, and have a blessed day."

Now, for every person who is in legitimate need of help, there's five fucking assholes who wrote something powerful and is looking to exploit kind, generous people. I'm not about to take that risk. You know how you can tell if someone is lying? Offer them actual food. I've seen people become visibly disappointed when a good samaritan breaks them off a half a sandwich.

I hate to sound heartless, but I don't have a dollar for every person that comes to me with a sob story. I have enough of my own. Sure, it's tough to not feel bad for people, especially when they really fucking sell it. But you have to understand that these people are con artists, and con artists are the finest actors. I'm sure I can throw on some shitty clothing and use my Meisner training to pan-handle a couple of hundred bucks on the A train.

Lastly, the most obvious sign to spot a fake is hygiene. Have you ever smelled a homeless person? They're quite pungent.

This brings me to...

4- If a subway car is empty, there's good reason: 

Say it's about 9pm, and the trains are still reasonably full. You're waiting on the platform, and a train whips past you. You see several cars full of people, and as it slows down before you, you see one golden car that's full of seats. It passes you up a bit, and the following car is full of people.

A rookie would run towards it, because after a long day of walking around and seeing the sights, why wouldn't they want to sit down on their commute back to the hotel?

Step inside, and prepare for hellfire in your sinuses. Prepare to jump in, take a look around, and not fully understand the demon that will violate your nostrils. Prepare to hear, "stand clear of the closing doors, please", and have the next sixty seconds of your life become a Fear Factor challenge as the stink that you will endure will straddle your shoulders and fuck every oriface of your wholesome, pudgy little face.

You'll look around, frantic and confused, only to see one lone, raggedy body, sprawled out along one of the benches. This is the source.

You'll pray for the next stop, pray that you won't pass out before it gets there, pray that the odor hasn't latched onto your clothing to carry onto the next car that you'll have to dash to as soon as it the train makes a halt at the next station.

And you'll never make the same mistake again.

5- If you're waiting on a platform and a crowded train arrives:

Clear a path for the people getting off the train first. If you attempt to get on before letting people off, be prepared to be mowed down by a New Yorker. And heaven forbid if you obstruct the exit holding an open map. (I actually got douche chills just visualizing that.)

6- Subway poles weren't built for backs. 

Can't seem to get comfy leaning up against that pole in the middle of the subway car? Had a long walk though Chinatown, and just want to relax and lean up against this snot-infested, bacteria-ridden bar of steel because there aren't any available seats for you?


Just don't.

Those poles were made for hands. Multiple hands. If a New Yorker gets on a train, sees that there's no seats, then sees your back-fat mushed up against the pole, bubbling over on both ends and taking up any room they have to grab hold and not faceplant when the shitty C train makes an abrupt stop at the terminal... well, prepare to be nudged hastily.

Tough it out, and grab hold of the coven of bacterial organisms eager to latch onto your flesh and give your white blood cells a 12-round title fight.

7- Treat the entrance/exit staircases as if they were highways. 

Take notice of picture above. Now imagine it as if it were a highway (for some you international folk, just reverse everything I'm about to say). On a highway, you have one side going one direction, which is on the right, and the opposite side going the other.

Forget about the left side of the staircase in this picture for a moment and imagine the right side is your car on the highway. Say this highway has two lanes. Split the right side of the staircase down the middle. On a highway, you have the right lane and he left lane, which is the speed lane (or, more importantly, the "passing lane").

If you're a slow-poke, maybe have a bum knee or some sort of handicap, you use the right lane. Take your time. That's what this lane is there for. If a New Yorker gets stuck behind you on the steps, they can simply take one step to the left and proceed at their own pace.

Would you ever drive under the speed limit in the left lane of a crowded highway? Of course you wouldn't. You'd be run off the road in no time. Respect the laws of the staircase and let the maniacs pass you by on the left.

Same goes for escalators. There's a spot on the right side reserved for people who want to stand and let the escalator to carry them up. Then there's a lane for the frantic asshole like myself, who wants to shave an extra twenty or thirty seconds off their commute time.

That's really the drive of most commuting New Yorkers - getting there quicker than the day before. Fuck with that and you'll get an earful.

8- Don't eat hot food on the train. 

Just don't. Especially halal food. Please.

9- Riding between subway cars...

Is kind of fucking awesome. But don't do it. It's illegal. But it's kind of awesome. But don't do it. It's illegal.

10- When you buy a MetroCard, be realistic about how much you'll be using it: 

There are several things to consider when purchasing MetroCard. The first is that the card itself will cost you $1. That's a buck before you 're able to enter the subway.

Will it be a novelty? Will you ride it once, have your fill, then continue on the rest of your trip taking taxis? Or will you make a valiant effort to get to know the system and get the most out of your card?

If you have a family, I recommend purchasing one MetroCard for every two people, and putting cash on each one. It's $2.50 per person, per ride. Figure out how much you'll be using it for the day, and pay accordingly. If you plan on heading somewhere and coming back, that's $5 a head. Try it first and see if it's for you. A weekly pass will run you $30 per person. That's a lot of traveling to get your money's worth. Don't waste your money on one unless you're absolutely sure you'll be frequently riding.

Also, if you're a first-timer and looking to buy MetroCards for multiple people, use the MTA employees in the booths. You can tell them how many people you need to buy for and where you're going, and they'll help you out. (With an attitude, of course, but they'll never lead you in the wrong direction.)

And please, don't use the kiosks if you don't know what the fuck you're doing. You'll be getting in the way of New Yorkers. If there's one thing you should absorb from this post, is that you never, ever get in the way of a New Yorker.

One last thing- if you have leftover MetroCards at the end of your trip, always offer it to your favorite hotel employee. It's as good as cash and a wonderful gesture, but please be sure to never replace it with a tip. There's nothing worse than some schmuck handing you a MetroCard instead of a gratuity like they're doing you a favor, only to find out that there's 30 cents left on it.


Trying to explain the intricacies of the subway to the uninitiated is a fools endeavor. Like I said, it took me years of commuting all over the city to fully master the subway system. Don't beat yourself up if you don't learn it over the course of a few days.

And seriously, don't get in the way of the New Yorkers.