Stonehenge Subway Survival
May 30th, 2018
The thrill of city life is even better when you live in one of Stonehenge’s excellent properties. But if you’re new in town, finding your way around can be a bit tricky at first. Even if you know which way you’re going, there are tons of unwritten rules to riding the subway. It’s enough to make your head spin! We've prepared a handy survival primer for those of you who are new to the city this summer. If you’re not yet an old pro at navigating the subway, this is the guide you’ve been looking for. Never Find Yourself Without a Map: When you’re new to the city, getting lost is a rite of passage. It only takes one wrong turn to find yourself stranded in sketch-central. How’d you get so far off the edges of the map? Now you’re stuck shrugging off creepy strangers, avoiding eye contact and ineptly trying to look like you’re not totally lost. Cell Phone reception can be fickle, especially when you’re underground, so using your GPS won’t always be an option. Download a simple subway map app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with it and pull it up whenever you feel the need. Those last two stops looked unfamiliar. Are you going the wrong direction, or is the train simply running local? A quick glance at your map app will save your bacon! Choose Your Subway Entrance Wisely: You’ve probably already noticed that many local (and a few express) subway stations have entrances on either side of the street. Generally, the west side of the street will take you to a downtown train and the east will take you to an uptown train. That means you can’t go down either enerance and cut across to your desired platform. If you go down the wrong side and swipe your card at the turnstile you’ll have wasted a swipe. If you’ve got an unlimited Metrocard you’ll have to wait 18 minutes before you can swipe again on the proper side. That’s 18 minutes when you could be sitting in a bar with your friends. 18 minutes that you could keep that important client waiting. 18 minutes that you’ll never get back. If this does happen to you, you can always explain your dilemma to the MTA employee in the booth near the subway entrance. If you’re polite, and you grovel a bit, they’ll probably have mercy and let you in. Take your pack off your back: It wouldn’t be a New York City train without constant overcrowding. You’d better get used to having your very body and soul crushed by thousands of sweaty, stinking, angry travellers. It’s at times like these that every inch of standing room becomes critical. It is the divine duty of every New Yorker to maximize subway space, so that we all might travel a bit more comfortably. An easy way to add standing room is to simply set your backpack between your legs. You also shouldn’t set your backpack on the seat beside you, even if it’s empty. It goes without saying that someone might want that seat, and your bag is not a person and therefore is not entitled to a chair intended for human use. Stick it under your seat or between your legs. STEP ASIDE: It’s inevitable: As the train pulls into the station, some inconsiderate person will stand directly in front of the doors, waiting to jump on ASAP. The only problem with this is that they’re impeding all foot traffic from exiting the train. It’s the equivalent of trying to pull into a parking spot while another car is pulling out. The laws of physics currently dictate that you can’t occupy a part of the universe that’s already occupied. Save yourself a painful shoulder to the face make a little room for the passengers to disembark. You’ll avoid looking like a fool, or worse--a tourist. Always check the MTA website before heading out: The NYC Subway system is over a hundred years old at this point. At it’s advanced age, this and vast and complex system has more than a little arthritis and wrinkles. In an effort to stave off the symptoms of age, the MTA is always doing repairs, especially on weekends. It pays to keep an eye on The Weekender- your guide to preparing for inevitable service changes. The MTA doesn’t always post signs when there are delays, which means you might stand around waiting for ages on a train that never comes. What could be more exasperating? Save yourself the misery and use the Weekender to figure out if you should call an Uber. Keep a Sharp Eye Out: The city can be a dangerous place, but it’s a whole lot more dangerous if you’re not paying attention. Situational awareness can keep you from getting mugged, help you spot suspicious behavior and it also lets you take in the weird and wondrous world around you. Try not to stay buried in your phone for your entire commute, no matter how bored you are. Tuck your phone away when the subway doors are open. It’s all too easy for an expert thief to grab your phone and make a harrowing escape through the closing doors like Indiana Jones. Don’t Lean On the Subway Pole: Why do people insist on taking up an entire subway pole all by themselves? Nobody wants to force their hand between your moist t-shirt and the pole just to avoid falling over. Maybe they enjoy being glared at by total strangers? Eight or more people could realistically hold onto that pole while the train is moving, unless some inconsiderate person is leaning on it. Don’t be that guy. Don’t Be a Flirt: Nobody rides the subway to make friends. Everyone is there because they have to be there. We’re all trying to get to work, or to get home, or to get somewhere that isn’t the subway. The necessities of public transit are such that you’ll encounter thousands of people every day. It’s both impossible and impractical to smile or make eye contact with all three thousand people you meet on your daily commute. Locking eyes with an interesting stranger can often be the start of something new and exciting-unless you’re on the subway. That friendly stranger is probably only being friendly because they’re literally trapped with you. If you accidentally make eye contact just look away as quickly as possible, just as any sane person would. Eye contact can sometimes seen as an invitation to the more unsavory and unstable subway denizens. The harsh truth is that you don’t want to engage most of these people, for your own safety. Keep that bubble around you tightly closed. If you want to flirt go to a bar. Ask For Help: The subway is a chaotic place, and sometimes you just might need to ask for a helping hand. Your best option is to ask an MTA employee or a police officer. Most train stations have a booth containing an MTA employee near the turnstyle. If you’re polite to these people, and ask nicely, they’ll be willing to help you. If you can’t find an official-looking help, you may have to ask a fellow rider. Simply approached the friendliest, least-intimidating person you can find. New Yorkers don’t like to be bugged by people asking for money but they’re generally happy to give directions.