In the Subway Station, Being Nice Gets You Nowhere

Filed under fun times on the subway, living in new york sucks so hard, my uber-confrontational personality

After work the other day, I was heading to my boyfriend’s apartment and exited the train at Grand Central. There was a throng of people gathered at the staircase on the platform, being inconsiderate to each other as usual. A man with a guitar case had been waiting by the stairs for someone to let him up for as long as I’d been waiting patiently toward the back of the mass, so when it was my turn to step onto the first stair, I held back for a second and motioned for him to go ahead. He smiled and thanked me, and I was left feeling like the greatest American hero, as my boyfriend says.

Then, on my way up the staircase from the station to the street, a woman was coming down on the wrong side. I find that sort of thing ridiculous in normal polite society, but in a city where we’re all two centimeters from colliding with one another, it’s totally inexcusable. I was going to give her the what-for, but then I thought, “Hey, it’s raining, and if I’m nice to the guitar guy AND the wrong-side lady, my karma will be off the chart.” Not that I believe in that sort of thing.

But as soon as I was through congratulating myself on being a true humanitarian, the woman thrust her Strawberry shopping bags in front of her, lifted her chin, and said haughtily, “Clear the way! Clear the way!”

She’s lucky she didn’t say it ten seconds earlier, because you can bet I would’ve planted myself right in front of her until the smell of the halal cart outside the station became too tempting around nightfall, but as she was right beside me by that point, I could only say, “You are a bitch!”, but she kept on walking down the stairs, and people kept on moving out of the way for her.

Funny that the only time New Yorkers are nice, it’s for people who don’t deserve it.

(also posted on Examiner) (who pays me when you read my articles, I should mention) (in case you were thinking about not clicking on that link)


  1. Kelly says:

    I must say, the one and only time I’ve been to New York City (six years ago), not one single person was anything less than extraordinarily friendly and/or helpful.

    Perfect example: I was shopping in the West Village, and I asked the salesgirl how to get to Magnolia Bakery from where I was.


    I know, I know, they say New Yorkers are nice to tourists but shitty to each other. But I can tell you right now, we aren’t THAT nice to tourists in Shreveport, Louisiana. (And yes, we do actually have tourists. Remember, anything’s legal in Louisiana if you have enough money.)

    I would like to be a tourist in New York City for the REST of my LIFE.

    • Tracey says:

      Kelly has a point, here. Why are actual New Yorkers so careful to try to not look like tourists so they can fit in with the cool kids, while the tourists are the ones everyone is nicer to?

      Maybe the smartest New Yorkers are the ones who have lived there for years, but still ask people on the street how you get to the Statue of Liberty.

    • Mark says:

      I think the concept of defining who New Yorkers are or what they are like is silly for the simple reason that the nature of the city is diversity. We have assholes and incredibly kind people alike. It’s not an either/or deal; it’s an all-of-the-above.

      That being said, living in the city for years can turn incredibly kind people into being just a little bit tougher. I know this Southern girl who used to walk with a saunter, until this saunter garnered her a little too much attention. And thus, she changed the way she walks, so as not to attract unwanted attention. And I, who would never think to do this before, will elbow-check tourists when riding my bike across the Brooklyn Bridge when they wander their way into the bike lane without regard for the fact that I could seriously injure them & they need to fucking pay attention.