riding the rails

This morning I'd like to discuss train etiquette.
There are posters, on the trains, asking riders to curtail their cell phone usage and to mind the gap - but I'd like to address some things the railroad has not considered. Yes, the cell phone calls are disturbing - I think I've had to deal with overhearing one each day so I do appreciate my iPod, but there are two more serious problems that I believe the railroad should tackle immediately:

1. Eating on the trains.

2. Applying makeup on the trains.

I understand that people may be hungry and don't have a moment to grab a roll and coffee at home (and remind me to show you the coffee truck at my train station because I pretty much love the whole set up) but I don't want to sit next to you whilst you have your breakfast. It's worse on the way home - the other night K and I sat with a woman who unwrapped a burrito. The trains are pretty filthy - I'd have to be pretty damn hungry to have a burrito on my way home. I understand that it IS 30 minutes that could be used to eat and I have a solution. I suggest that the center car of each train be reserved for those with food - especially hot food. In the old days (the early 80's) there was a bar car - I don't think the railroad needs to go that far, food need not be offered. I just want the eaters to stay in one convenient location so I don't have to watch them eat and smell their food.
(And where is that guy with the beer cart? Is he still on the platform? I need to ask K.)

The applying of the makeup during the morning commute is trickier. I'm not going to suggest anything as ludicrous as a special car for women to use for putting on their foundation - though there are bathrooms in the second car of my train, I think this is a situation where there can be no compromise. I think we need posters with the same kind of tone as the "we don't swim in your toilet, don't pee in our pool" signs. I don't stand in your bathroom watching you brush on your mascara - I don't want you brushing on your mascara while I'm reading my morning paper...that kind of thing.
I see women making up every single day. And I'm not talking about applying lipstick - oh no, they start with the foundation and work their way up to eye shadow, blush and lip liner. The whole purpose of makeup is artifice - the point is lost if we SEE you using concealer and blush. K has even told me that he has seen people clipping their nails on the train! If I ever see anyone clipping their nails on the train you will read about me in the newspaper as I will not be responsible for my actions.

Do I seem a little ranty? Well, I suppose it's because I'm on the train and there is a crying baby sitting somewhere behind me. AT 5:30 PM! Certainly SOMEONE can hand the poor little thing a burrito.


Allison said…
OK, so I HAD to give you this link to my sister-in-law's blog, on which she documents seeing the horror of public nail clipping. http://tinyurl.com/4qspv3

I used to fly a lot, and was always totally grossed out when people brought McDonalds on the plane. I mean, we eat it occasionally, but are always driving frantically around looking for a garbage can because we can't stand the smell of it in our own car!
Badger said…
I must know: do you ever see men shaving on the train? Because I dated a guy who used to shave in his car on his way to work, with one of those rechargeable rotary razor deals, and that TOTALLY seems like something people would do on trains.
jenny said…
Clipping nails? On a train? Skeevy. And your actions would totally be justified.

I'm amazed that so many people think that privacy is THEIR option, like because they choose to air their dirty laundry on a cell phone or put makeup on in front of a captive audience we have no right to object.

Dani said…
The one common denominator amongst those people? No class.

Call me when you find the nail clipping passenger. I want to watch you go all crazy-woman on them. ;)
Anonymous said…
I watched a woman have a three cousre meal, then clean herself up with wet ones, then reapply her make up, then make a phone call that sounded loud and highly personal when I was on a train. She also zipped and unzipped her bag a thousand times.

There should be a separate cars for fidgety types - so the rest of us can relax.
The problem with the general public today is that modesty doesn't seem to exist anymore. Seems like anything goes and nothing is private anymore.

Don't get me started on the baby thing. I believe when it is a baby's mealtime or nap time they shouldn't have to be dragged all over creation.

I just want to scream,"Why isn't that baby home being fed or in it's bed!!?"

Off my Wednesday Soapbox now.
barbra said…
Oh, dear, are you already at "what day is it?"

When I was taking public transportation to work in Portland, the novelty wore off after about a week. Then it was just a dirty place where I tried to become invisible by burying myself in a book.

At least the walk to work was pretty when I got off the bus! Sounds like you've got that too.
Anonymous said…
When we lived in the D.C. area, I commuted by train for a year. I saw FAR TOO MUCH during that time, including all the personal hygiene offenses you listed AND the one Badger mentioned. Disgusting.

When riding trains in England and Canada, I never once saw untoward.
jordi said…
I saw a woman do the whole makeup routine including mascara and eyeliner on the SUBWAY! The A train has a long run from 125th street to 59th, but subways are so bumpy and jerky that I could not take my eyes off her thinking what would my reaction be when she poked her eye out?

Would I do something to help or say something like "that's what you get for jumping on the bed" and move to another car....hmmmmm
Anonymous said…
Do you wear glasses, Blackbird? If so, I have a suggestion. Remove them while on the train. Voila! Instead of burritos and toenail clippings, you are in the middle of an impressionist painting.
Anonymous said…
Nobody rants better than you do.
Anonymous said…
And I complain I always see the same old faces every single day...
Anonymous said…
Wow. Note to self: Never powder my nose on the way to work again. Eek! Guess I thought the shine on my horn was more offensive than the riddance of it, but perhaps not.

I have always found it to be quite obnoxious when people who are reading their morning paper, heh heh, act as if the mere act reading the paper entitles them to open it all the way up and therefore noisily and inkily invade their seatmate's personal space. Not nice. There's my rant for ya.

Anonymous said…
The food thing, yes. Cell phones - I'm with you. The nails - ick! But I can't help but wonder what's so offensive about someone applying makeup in public? I don't wear makeup anymore, but I find it kind of interesting to see it being applied - like watching someone paint.
Anonymous said…
Happily, or maybe not, the only things that bother me on a train or bus or plane are audible -- crying baby, someone with the sniffles, a loud iPod, a cell phone conversation. Anything else I can tune out.

The maybe not part comes in where I could potentially be the person that is grossing out everyone else. (Note to self: do not be That Person.) Thanks for the reminder.
Anonymous said…
Yes, personal grooming is best done alone. At home. Alone.

Imagine if you unwrapped a rack of ribs to eat in front of the train-gang.
Anonymous said…
A few of the men I work with clip their nails at work. That just grosses me out. Like the rest of us in cube-ville can't hear the "snip! snip! snip!" What is wrong with these people?
Anonymous said…
I hope your new experiences of taking mass transit and working in the city will help you become more accepting of people whose values and beliefs are different than yours.

Some people live lifestyles that require doing certain things on the train -- things that you may have the luxury of doing at home, like putting on mascara or eating. Do you know any single moms or people who work two jobs to make ends meet? They might be a bit more strapped for time than you are. Others may believe that talking into a cell phone is no different than talking to a fellow passenger, (and like you said, you have an iPod).

Rants can make you feel good and help you get things off your chest, but complaining about a crying baby? What do you suggest...a special car for them, too? I just think many people need to lighten up on "pet peeves" when there are so many more important things in the world to be concerned about. A person in Somalia would love to trade places with you, especially if your biggest headache is dealing with a cell phone wielding burrito eater on a train.
KPB said…
Ahhh, now we're getting to the good stuff.

As Chef would say, 'it's all in the upbringing'.
blackbird said…
Well said, Sadie. I am truly lucky and these peeves are incredibly minor - especially considering how fortunate I am.
I am experiencing a learning curve and adjusting to having hundreds of people, rather than just five, around me each day - all day - every day. Though I tend to be pretty judgemental about my own group's little transgressions as well.
Unknown said…
In the morning I hate everybody. At night I am tired. I always slept on the train (when I lived in Chicago and DC). These days I am a lot less critical of what goes on around me...but I do enjoy your observations as the bring it all back! (I used to put on makeup on the train. I had a toddler and my hair looked like sh*T for about 6 years while he was growing up!)
Amy said…
You're totally on the LIRR. I've been there. I've heard a guy tell his wife on his cell phone he wanted a divorce. Yes, over his cell phone. While he was on the train. A very, very crowded train. You could blog daily about the atrocities of the LIRR. What a mess it is.

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