A new campaign from New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority strikes at the very heart of something that has become a scourge to all that live in this city: The specter of manspreading.
Ah, no, it’s coming, save the children!
Is this blight on the subway system even among the millions of things that should be worked on to make the subways better or a more-pleasant experience from general operations to just plain subway etiquette? I think not.
There are people on the subway right now that are doing things to themselves, and maybe others, which are against the law in some states, but this is what the MTA is reminding riders about? Manspreading, while annoying and rude, fails to make my list of the many, many things that need to be improved or handled better in the vast, underground network.
Yeah, great idea. Let’s blame riders — the people that are directly responsible for every nut, bolt, construction project and improvement in the entire system — and then gave it an uncreative name, like manspreading. You’ve got to be kidding me.
Is this the same system that has been mocked by “Saturday Night Live” for rarely, if ever making service announcements audible or discernible through the famously garbled speakers? Umm, here’s a thought: How about running more cars, finally installing long-promised new technology in order to run more cars and have more trains arriving closer together to actually alleviate overcrowding? No, it’s easier to just find some petty thing, like people spreading their legs a half an inch too far apart and then blaming fellow riders for why you can’t get a seat.
But why should the MTA make real improvements? We really have no alternative — it’s a captive audience in the best possible way. The buses will still be slow, unreliable and a pain to wait for if the temperature is anywhere fluctuating above or below 6o degrees, and cabs cost a fortune to go around the corner. Public transit options are limited to say the least.
Plus, there are a few more egregious examples of poor underground etiquette:
For starters, the “It’s Showtime,” performers. (For those who’ve never experienced “showtime,” this is an oft-dreaded moment when dancers take over the subway with music blasting from their boomboxes as they use the subway poles for launch pads.) It’s more like like “It’s not time;” people are just trying to get to work in one piece. And God bless your acrobatic skills, but when one of you eventually kicks some lady in the head, playtime will be over.
Or what about the weirdoes that clip their fingernails? Is there is absolutely no other place where that could be done, like, oh I don’t know IN YOUR HOME??
But wait, there’s more annoyances about the subway! People that will not move away from the doors and won’t let you board, people that won’t let you get off, people that talk too loud, play music on their phones and have their video games turned up so high it sounds like an arcade, stinky food people eat while sitting three inches from you, when you are sitting on an end seat by the door and a person standing in the doorway will not respect your space and just gets all up close and personal and rubs all on you and finally — this is exhausting — the people who wear massive hiker backpacks and refuse to hold them at their sides to allow for more space. If they turn slightly, you could have the wind knocked out of you.
And then there’s the whole process of using the subways on the weekend. Trying to figure out that schedule is like a full-time job alone. A person needs an advanced degree in calculus to understand all the different permutations. Let’s see, if A = B, then C = … wait, what?
Yeah, manspreading is annoying and rude, but I think there are lots and lots and lots of things that are more annoying and way more pressing that could be addressed. This might be the only time, ever, that I’ll fall back on that hackneyed “Isn’t there something more important you people could be using your time to focus on improving the experience for everyone?”
Like just a few of those other examples mentioned.
Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.