A Tourist's Guide to the New York City Subway System, or How Not To Be A D**K

For those unaccustomed to big city transit, riding the New York City subway system may seem a daunting proposition. Though the image many non-residents have of graffiti, boom boxes, and spontaneous knife fights is largely outdated (the trains are slightly cleaner, at least externally, and the rats much friendlier due to the massive quantity of excreted mood stabilizers and antidepressants coursing through the city's sewage system), those planning to visit New York in the near future may benefit from a little "primer" in getting from here to there in The Big Apple. So just follow these tips and I guarantee your vacation transit in NYC will go off without a hitch!

Tip # 1: Make Sure You Have A Map

Google Maps is the preferred choice. All you have to do is put in your current location and desired destination and follow the directions. Can't get any easier than that! Paper maps work too for the less tech-savvy.

Tip #2: Decide Which Subway Card You Need

You can get anything from a single ride to a monthly unlimited pass, so determine which option is best for you based on the duration of your stay and the frequency with which you expect to ride. Swipe your card at the turnstile (loose grip, steady pace), make your way to the platform, and wait for your train to arrive. Once you get on:

Tip #3: Don't Smile At Anyone

This automatically makes you either a serial killer or a rapist and exhibits a wholly unwelcome level of good humor and joie de vivre to the other passengers. In fact, just to be safe ...

Tip #4: Don't Make Eye Contact With Anyone

There's simply no reason to do this except as a prologue to some sort of interpersonal interaction, which is to be avoided at all costs. Remember that most of your fellow commuters are merely trying to slog glassy-eyed to the office without jumping onto the tracks or, even worse, having to briefly converse with someone (especially if it's the same creepy person who just smiled at them moments before).

So what should you do then? The best approach is to stare blankly straight ahead at a fixed point roughly 10-12 inches above the other passengers' heads. If you're feeling slightly more adventurous -- after all, you are on vacation -- you can always pretend to read one of the text-heavy advertisements over and over. Intermittent rotation between fixed point, advertisement, and iPhone is also acceptable. I guess you could read a book, but I mean, come on, seriously.

Indeed, proper iPhone utilization is absolutely critical. When emerging from a tunnel, you should immediately whip your iPhone out of your pocket and begin scrolling through it. You will be one of 37 people performing this action in precise synchronicity, creating a veritable ballet of compulsive self-absorption and/or work-induced anxiety.

Helpful Hint: If you don't already have some, buy a pair of headphones. They are a tremendous aid in setting up the requisite impenetrable wall against human engagement (and you don't even need to actually be listening to anything). On a related note, if you hear trebly music emanating from someone else's phone, do not offer this self-styled transit DJ headphones. He or she likely already owns headphones and in declining to wear them is merely expressing his or her steadfast refusal to be constrained by society's rules. Instead, maintain diligent focus on selected teen pregnancy advertisement.

Tip #5: Don't Eat

Self-explanatory. If you do witness someone eating on the subway be sure to keep your distance, as this person is without question a carrier of several deadly communicable diseases. Apply Purell liberally to hands, face, nose, eyes, and tongue.

Tip #6: Move Your Ass!

When the doors open, step out. You're entering the 42nd Street Station, not the surface of the moon. If you hesitate too long in exiting, be sure to check for your wallet and watch upon regaining consciousness.

Also keep in mind that the escalator, while thrilling, is not actually a ride, as the absence of animatronic faunae on your periphery during as and des-cent should indicate. Accordingly, either keep walking or shift far enough right to run for a senate seat in Alabama, i.e., pressed-up-against-the-rail-religious-zealot right.

When you get out to the street, ignore the other gaggles of tourists who have made camp directly in the center of the teeming sidewalk and perform your own stationary navigation and map-centric gesticulating off to the side (try to maneuver until you're roughly parallel with the gigantic, steaming pile of trash on the curb). Your courtesy will be much appreciated (read: ignored) by the moving parts of the above-referenced lifeless slog, which may now continue around you unmolested.

Tip #7: Have Like The Best Vacation Ever!

With these guidelines in mind you'll be riding that subway like a pro in no time, ready to soak up all the sights and sounds of The Greatest City in the World! And remember, if you find yourself in a tight spot, just stick to the "3 D's":

  • Don't smile
  • Don't look at or talk to anyone
  • Don't touch anything

Avoir un bon voyage!

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