Welcome to the second installation of a Guide To New York City Living, where I provide extensive step-by-step instructions based on first hand experience of surviving the city.
Today we examine a necessary skill employed by all but those with drivers, enough money to take cabs everywhere, and the ladies of "Sex and the City."
Note: Please do not try to apply this advice to Boston, DC or Chicago. Their public transportation is vastly different and makes much less sense. Aren't you glad that in NYC you can stumble home any time of night because the trains never stop running?
Following, I provide two different scenerios.
New York City Living
Lesson 2: How to Ride the Subway
Scenerio 1: Rush Hour
Step 1) Make sure that you are running very late for work, leaving absolutely no time for potential incident or delays. Even if everything is perfectly on time you are still doubtlessly going to be 15 minutes late. Hope this means that the trains will miraculously be running double time today.
Step 2) Arrive at the station and be unable to go down the stairs for five minutes because of the mad rush of people exiting who don't know that you are supposed to stay to the right.
Step 3) Arrive downstairs at the turnstile just in time to see the train you want already in the station and doors shutting as you watch from afar with a wordless cry of "Nooo!" on your lips.
Step 4) Quickly scan your card in a fruitless last ditch attempt to catch the train. Learn that your monthly MetroCard has just expired.
Step 5) Curse loudly (well aware that no New Yorker is going to pay attention to such a thing) as you search through your purse for your new monthly MetroCard that your office manager just gave you. Be unable to find your card amid the myriad make-up containers, empty bottles of Advil, nail files, gum wrappers, old receipts, pens, lip gloss and loose change.
Step 6) Finally find your new card and make it through the turnstile. Don't sit down. You don't know where that seat has been.
Step 7) Wait 15 minutes for the train, which finally arrives packed to capacity. Wait for so long for people to exit that by the time you are able to board the conductor gets over-anxious and closes the door. On your arm. The door will not pop open as it is supposed to. A kindly stranger will help pull you free.
Step 8) Be unable to find a seat. Even though you are surrounded by all men over 6 feet tall, they are all be holding the handrails in reach, leaving you to have to stand on your tippy toes and hang on to the rail over the seats. It's a good thing you remembered your deoderant because your armpit is definitely in someone's face.
Step 9) Speed along and feel like the train is about to derail and you are hurdling toward your impending doom.
Step 10) Be miffed when the train grinds to a halt in the middle of the tunnel for no apparent reason. Hear the following useful information from the conductor: "woifnsISjmg. Shkf gwfj delays. APighpogs incident soojw foaiw gaswigjps. Should be moving shortly."
Step 11) Finally reach your destination. Shoulder your way off the train because you don't want to be on there till the next stop.
Step 12) Wait patiently for 16 people to enter the station through the turnstile you plan to use.
Step 13) Exit using the right side of the stairs. Notice that once again no one is paying attention to this rule. Pretend you're trying to get away from a fire -- elbows out. Pat yourself on the back that you are the one person on the island of Manhattan who tries to play by the rules.
(In an escalator situation, stand on the right and walk on the left. No one pays attention to this rule either. Plan to walk because you haven't been to the gym in two weeks but don't make it very far).
Step 14) Breathe the sweet, sweet air of freedom.
Step 15) Arrive 45 minutes late to work.
Scenerio 2: 4 AM
Step 1) Decide in your drunken state that rather than taking a cab you are going to save money and you and your friends are going to take the subway.
Step 2) Spend the next 25 minutes trying to locate the subway that you need.
Step 3) Decide to stop at McDonald's on the way. You need fries to sustain you on the long ride home.
Step 4) Wait on the platform with the other drunk people.
Step 5) Continue to wait.
Step 6) Enjoy the music played by the random bucket-playing man. Do not give him money. Ignore the woman asking for change who says she needs to get home to Jersey.
Step 7) Wait some more.
Step 8) Finally rejoice when the train arrives after 45 minutes. Board and noticed that it smells like something died. See the homeless person passed out on the bench. Quickly switch cars.
Step 9) Sit down and promptly pass out. (Note: Make sure not to sleep through your stop. Waking up at the end of the line = unhappy, and it's a long road back from Queens).
Step 10) Arrive at your destination and breathe the sweet, sweet air of freedom.
From here please refer to Lesson 1: How to be Hungover beginning around Step 27.
I realize I may have left out some key points for those of you who have never been to New York before. If you are unfamiliar with the New York City subway system these can include:
1) Figuring out which trains you need to take. Use hopstop.com. It is the best. Seriously.
2) Trying to read a subway map. Hint: Just make sure you check hopstop.com before you leave. It will save you a lot of undue grief.
3) Cancellations and changes in service. Be prepared to ride uptown to go downtown. That's all I'm saying.
4) Exiting the subway on a street corner and standing there for 5 minutes wondering what-fresh-hell direction you are supposed to go in. God Speed.
So I realize that my next lesson was supposed to be how to take a cab. For those of you with extra change in your pockets, I promise that for next time.