There is nothing like starting your morning crushed up against strangers on the subway. During rush hour this formidable means of transportation is like a battlefield. Everyone is fighting to squeeze into an already over packed train, hoping to defy spatial limitations. No room is allowed for personal space, standards of hygiene, and the care for your belongings. An unstopping, full train passes by your station and you see people plastered to the windows with their bags half hanging out of the closed doors. You nod in commiseration to the passing train because the other day that was your bag hanging out of the train crushing your lunch and books. Amidst the chaos and attempts to stay vertical from the frequent jerks of an old subway car, you see someone who looks as if they are preparing to depart this moving vehicle of discontent. This is your chance of reprieve. But, alas, someone was quicker than you and your moment is gone. How do you improve your chances of finding a seat on the subway during rush hour, you say? Here are a few steps.
- Don’t get stuck at the front of the train. If you can push through the crowd and get to the middle, there is typically more space and better chances of eventually getting a seat. Also, the middle of the train always seems to have more traffic of people exiting.
- Know your subway line and observe. If you ride the subway everyday, you know what stops are hubs for increased traffic. For example, one of your stops might go through a medical center. It is likely that a lot of people will be getting out at that time. Observe those seated. Who is wearing scrubs? Who has a badge with the acronyms MD, RN, and the like? Who looks like they are preparing for departure? Signs of departure include putting away of an iPad, Nook, book, etc. or general shifting to a readied stance. These are the people you want to stand close to because they provide an increased probability that you will be sitting soon.
- Look around you and stake your claim. When you spot a person about to free up their seat, start inching closer. Once within proximity, stake your claim by holding the support pole at the back of the seat. This tells those around you that once this person leaves, this is your seat. If you feel someone else making a move for your seat, make eye contact and stare at him or her with a determined gaze. Stand your ground. Of course, if they are elderly, pregnant, have a broken appendage, or look like they are about to topple over, by all means let them sit down. Hopefully the city hasn’t stripped you of all human decency.
Once you are seated, you have to worry about getting through the throng of people when you arrive at your destination. You don’t want to be late for work because you missed your stop. For this, I advise a minimal amount of shoving and a bit of vocal authority.