When I lived in Montreal, I encountered my first subway system.  Getting used to the chaos that surrounds this form of transportation was difficult.  For the fun of it, I wrote a post on my then blog, Bright Lights Big City entitled “Street Etiquette” where I used a few of my own stories to construct a list of rules for subway/ bus/ sidewalk travelers.  Three years later, I am still wondering how this code of conduct does not exist.  Or it does, but is rarely ever abided by or enforced.

Scene: 8:35am Wednesday morning.  I am on my way to a job interview, dressed in my absolute best and feeling a healthy combination of excitement and terror.  I have finally gotten used to being uncomfortably pressed against at least four other people during my trip.  I have learned not to wear my heals on the train, as I am sure I have punctured enough toes (from abrupt stops followed by staggering attempts to remain standing) to last me a lifetime.  I have learned to hold my lunch bag low, so to not upset the people who are pressed up against my endless supply of lunch-filled tupperware.  I have managed to become comfortable enough standing so close to a seated person that I am almost in their lap, just to make room.  Apparently, these unfortunate learned lessons have not reached the entirety of the general population.  Halfway between stops, an extremely tall and decently built older gentleman stands up from his seat and begins pushing himself through the crowds of people gripping the poles for dear life as to not go tumbling when the car rolls to a stop.  He grips a cane with determined strength and proceeds to body check a good ten people (including yours truly) on his way to the door.  When a frustrated man yells “HEY!”, after being pushed into another lady, the man responds with a “HEY!”.  The younger guy instantly sprouts fire out of his ears, “You just pushed me!”  What followed made my faith in humanity momentarily wobble.  The large man stood taller than before, towering over the younger man and yelled, “I’M ON A CANE, F**KFACE!”  Pretty sure I wanted to reach over and cover the ears of all the children riding with their parents on their way to school, and to smack the tall man upside the head.  I was appalled.  And so, I am here once again to revise and re-title one of my favourite former posts.


1. When the subway arrives, let the people who are getting OFF go first.  Unless of course, you want to be trampled à la Lion King stampede.  Just be patient.  Wait!  I promise, the train will not magically disappear if you are NOT the first one on.  Now, carry on.

2.  Let the people who were waiting before you get on first.  I know you are in a rush but buddy, you live in Toronto.  Everyone is in a rush.  Wait your turn.  Thank you.

3.  If you have a seat, look up occasionally to ensure that you are not making a 90-year-old lady attempt to keep her balance while you pretend life beyond your 24 Hour newspaper does not exist.  Be courteous and let the lady sit.  Seriously.  One of my major pet peeves.

4.  Watch your language.  I feel like this should just exist in all public places — especially when you are surrounded by children.  It slips out once in a while, I understand that, it happens to the best of us.  But don’t get on the bus and start yelling about your intimate life with your four other friends, or having a fight with your ex on your cellphone repeatedly calling someone a “whore”.  You won’t want your kids hearing this, so take other people’s children into consideration as well.  Also, I really don’t want to hear about your sexcapades while I am reading a deliciously good thriller on the bus.

5.  Don’t put your purse on the seat beside you when there is an onstream of people filling into the car.  Honestly, your purse should fit on your lap.  If I had more guts, I would sit right on someone’s lap and say “I know your purse is big but if I can fit here, I’m sure it can too.”  But I don’t, so instead, I will vent here.

I’m sure there is more I would love to add later but for now, this works.  Anything that drives you crazy?


2 thoughts on “Street Etiquette — NOT A Love Story

  1. Oh wow, that's appalling, Chelsey! I'm so glad I'm not working in the city anymore, but I also remember similar stories of crazy transit riders.The first rule that I learnt in my first week of TTC riding was: if you want to stand on the escalator, stand on the right side. OR you will get mowed over if you stand on the left. In my first week, I didn't know this unspoken rule and got nearly pushed and trampled on when I stood on the left side…yikes!People are really losing their sense of decency and patience these days…it always seems to be about number one. Sigh :(

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