Let’s All Bitch On the Subway!

The scene: Manhattan-bound F train, 9:00 AM
The action: Woman bumps into man

Woman: I’m sorry.

Man: (very loudly) No, I’m sorry. I’m sorry we live in this shit-ass city. I’m sorry they say they’ve got no money but all the fucking trains are full. They charge you forty-five cents on your phone bill if you live near a train station. I hate everything about New York.

Tart: (silently) And I’m sorry that this rant will continue for several minutes! And that the guy over there with the iPod is rapping out loud a song in which every third word is “faggot.” And that this guy over here just yelled “I’m no idiot. I went to the University of Virginia!” Well, that was actually funny.

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62 Comments

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62 responses to “Let’s All Bitch On the Subway!

  1. I was in Seoul once for Christmas Eve, and I needed to ride the subway for some reason, I forget why. Anyway, that day was the busiest I’d ever seen the subway trains, even counting rush hour and all that. We were packed; I was so glad I’m 6 feet.

    At one stop lots of people were getting on and off, and everyone was getting jostled. I don’t know if it’s because my center of gravity was higher than everyone else’s or what, but I got thrown off balance and my left arm kinda swung out. Right then the doors closed and the mass of riders “set” as if we were fast-acting gelatin. I still don’t know which two people my arm was sandwiched between. I just closed my hand – thankfully not around anything – and stared straight ahead until the next stop.

    That’s my subway story. It doesn’t have anything to do with your post, except it happened on a subway.

    Well, see you.

  2. Amy

    I swear one of these days I will be that guy.

  3. bill cosby (back in the 60’s when he was still a pretty funny motherfucker) used to have a routine about the subways. he said he dug riding them because of the entertainment “they put a nut in every car” and they hire winos to announce the arrivals and departures. it’s a classic bit.

    (i think i still have this one on vinyl somewhere, now i am condemned to an afternoon of boxes in the garage)

    thanks a fucking bunch tart.

  4. Overheard on my “commute” this morning:

    “Meow!”

    “Chirp! Tweet, tweet!”

    Not to make anyone jealous or anything….

  5. I love how profoundly depressed the announcers sound. Like it’s taking every last ounce of strength left in their being to tell you that this is Delancey street, the next stop is East Broadway, stand clear of the closing doors. And it’s possible that they’ll die of ennui before we get to Brooklyn.

  6. Kevin

    Sing it girl:

  7. oddjob

    Why is defending your intelligence by citing U of VA funny?

    Boston subways are usually quiet with readers, although the Blue Line at rush hour can be chatty. At this point the worst thing for me about those subways is the way they screech when they go around curves. My hearing is slowly failing and yet simultaneously becoming hypersensitive to loud noises.

  8. I loved the subways in Boston for horror-comedey stories and miss the fact that I don’t ride them anymore here in the north burbs of Chicago. My favorite story happened on the Red Line train north to Cambridge during an evening rush. We were packed like sardines. I was on my tiptoes with my ass resting on a barrier bar and this older guy next to me was trying to maintain a distance between us and kept getting pushed into me, until finally were were nearly adhered to each other. At some point, I realized that he was, ahem, reacting and looked at him. He got all embarassed, turned bright red (he was about 65 mind you) and said, “I am so very sorry!” Since he obviously wasn’t a perv and was clearly uncomfortable and embarassed, I just chuckled and said, “Tell you what. I will pretend that this is a nice complement and we will get off at the next stop, go in opposite directions and never see each other again.”

    My other favorite was when I used to carry my Kali lunch box with me. This young wanna-be gangsta was looking at it and goes, “Lady, that’s a fucked up lunch box!” I told him I carried it because I hoped it would scare people who were thinking of stealing my lunch. He laughed, “Bet it works too! Scares the hell out of me!” Too fun…

  9. Why is defending your intelligence by citing U of VA funny?

    oddjob, having been a TA for every level of college student from freshmen to 5th-year seniors, I can testify that the phrase “I’m smart because I went to [insert absolutely any college in the world here]” is innately hilarious.

  10. Why is defending your intelligence by citing U of VA funny?

    I dunno…just was.

  11. Chemist, that’s definitely part of it. I’ve met some very bright people who went to San Diego State, and some utter idiots who went to places with 5% acceptance rates. Plus, the whole “I went to such-and-such school” thing is so pretentious.

  12. And it works for grad school too, by the way. My school is one of the better ones in the country for surface science (which I don’t do), and there are some people doing surface science in the chemistry department who…well, let’s say they don’t exactly enhance the reputation.

    Where you went to school, or even that you went to school, doesn’t necessarily prove a single thing about your intelligence.

  13. oddjob

    Chemist, a fair observation. FWIW, unless I’m much mistaken U of VA is not unlike U of Tex. (Austin), a liberal island in a sea of rednecks (& a demanding school, too).

  14. I love how profoundly depressed the announcers sound.

    Tart, I take the F as well and there is one conductor who is the most pleasant person ever. She wishes her riders a great day at every stop. This may sound cheesy coming from a hardened NYer like myself, but she really makes my day. I haven’t have the chance to thank her yet, but one say I will.

  15. correction:

    one “day” I will

    /correction

  16. oddjob

    Plus, the whole “I went to such-and-such school” thing is so pretentious.

    My grandfather’s cousin would have made you positively ill! She graduated from Wellsley in about 1921 and had an egregious habit of always finding an opportunity to tell you that during a conversation.

  17. Creature, I love this one guy who works at the little grocery store by my house. He always looks so happy to see me.

    From where to where do you take the F?

  18. My grandfather’s cousin would have made you positively ill!

    In my experience, people from Harvard are the worst about that (though of course there are exceptions), followed by people from the University of Southern California.

  19. habit of always finding an opportunity to tell you that during a conversation

    Don’t you love people like that? They can work a conversation around to anything. My favorite, of course, is one my friend heard from a guy at a bar:

    “Oops, I dropped my Porsche keys.”

  20. oddjob

    In my experience, people from Harvard are the worst about that

    Back in that day Wellsley was just about the women’s equivalent of Harvard (which only accepted men).

  21. Chemist, on the east coast, people love the term “Ivy-Educated.” It’s a hyphenate. It makes me vomitous.

  22. oddjob

    Don’t you love people like that?

    I can be WASP, but not like she was!

    Her name was Hope & her husband’s nickname was Dunny. Dunny was a class act and a sweetheart whom everyone loved.

    The snarky (& accurate) version of “Hope & Dunny” was “Dope & Honey”.

    I usually found her mostly amusing, but she was only a distant relative to me. She was always quite nice to me and my siblings. Nonetheless, I realized she had her downside!

  23. oddjob

    In my experience, people from Harvard are the worst about that

    You might someday have a chat with Chet Scoville over at Vanity Press about that.

  24. Doktor Wankenstein

    When the doors start to close on the New York City subways, just get the hell out of their way. They are NOT like elevator doors, which will gently bounce back open upon contact with a human being. Oh, no. These heavy bastards will beat you to freaking jelly REPEATEDLY before you even know what happened.

    Trust me on this.

    And remember to pay attention to get off at the right stop, instead of waiting until the last moment to exit the car.

    Trust me on this, too.

    Yes, these two stories are related.

    Ow.

  25. Melissa McEwan

    In my experience, people from Harvard are the worst about that

    When I was doing “university shopping” and visited Yale, I asked each person with whom I met to tell me why I should go to Yale. The first response from three different people was not “You’ll get a top-notch education!” but “You’ll be able to say you went to Yale!”

  26. oddjob

    My school is one of the better ones in the country for surface science (which I don’t do), and there are some people doing surface science in the chemistry department who…well, let’s say they don’t exactly enhance the reputation.

    Ultimately it always seemed to me that what mattered more than the grad. school you went to was who your thesis advisor was. Furthermore, once you get that far along sooner or later the only thing that matters is whether you can do the work or not.

  27. Tart, I get on at 2nd Ave and depart at Rockafella (to jump on the B/D for one more stop), though sometimes I’ll jump to the B/D at West 4th to go express, weee.

  28. Ultimately it always seemed to me that what mattered more than the grad. school you went to was who your thesis advisor was.

    That’s very true; if you’ve got an adviser who doesn’t pay attention to you, you’re just not going to learn as much. Still, it amazes me sometimes that certain people can make it through a year of classes and then pass their cumulative exams (necessary to stay in grad school). Once you get through that, your adviser becomes much more of a factor.

    I have a great adviser; there are some people in the department who would have caused me to drop out in disgust or discouragement long ago.

  29. amish451

    “I’m no idiot, I went to …..”

    Here in the HOOSIER state they do not stop with simple proclamation, they fly flags; not just for special events (yay my team) but every day. And license plates and wall murals in the crapper …and insist Bobby Knight is a really sweet guy who has been horribly wronged …

  30. um *looks embarassed* I know that there are a lot of uppity snots that go to Harvard and Yale and the like and that’s it really easy to bash them (and indeed there are some of them who need a good bashing), but there are certainly a majority who are hardworking, caring individuals who really care about making a difference in the world, no matter what their background is. Maybe knowing when to drop the “I went to Harvard thing” is a skill that is developed over time, with the newly minted undergraduates being the worst and most obnoxious about it. I think people who keep dropping a line like that for many years must be terribly insecure and social stupid.

    It took me almost seven years before I dropped the “I went to Harvard” line, largely because when I was looking for work on the East Coast after graduating, it was a detriment. No one I interviewed with gave a rat’s ass if I had gone to Harvard and, for most of them, it was a good excuse to bait me and pull the whole, “We just bullied a Harvard grad” bullshit. I have found that my degree has more power the further away I am from the East Coast. I have used the Harvard line once during the interview for my current job, and I now hang my Harvard diploma on the wall, because I find it useful when working with faculty to remind them that I could be one of them if I chose and that there is no reason for them to act all superior in my office.

    Alrighty, I have whined enough…..

  31. When the doors start to close on the New York City subways, just get the hell out of their way.

    same goes for DC. for some reason, both boston and chicago’s train doors are more forgiving, so i had to nearly decapitate myself one day last fall before learning that it was a bit different here!

    Why is defending your intelligence by citing U of VA funny?

    during the end of college basketball season, UVA was playing VA Tech. they showed a crowd shot during the game, and some dickwad UVA student in his popped-collar polo shirt was holding up a sign that said CULTURE VS. AGRICULTURE.

    that cemented my disdain for UVA right there.

  32. katecontinued

    Tart, this was the funniest bit you wrote this morning. I laughed through all the comments too. What a great way to start the day. I have been gone from NYC for 17 years and I miss the subways. I do. It is theater each and every day.

  33. Betsy

    Tart, I adore your annoyed posts. They are priceless and make my day every time.

    I have used the Harvard line once during the interview for my current job, and I now hang my Harvard diploma on the wall, because I find it useful when working with faculty to remind them that I could be one of them if I chose and that there is no reason for them to act all superior in my office.

    Um, hate to tell you, but knowing faculty, that probably gives a lot of them MORE incentive to act all superior, whether because they’re annoyed at the own-horn-tooting or because they feel the need to prove themselves more.

    I know that lots of people mention their alma mater too much out of nostalgia and affection, rather than pride. (I was guilty of this for an number of years, and am currently trying to put a sock in it, though I wasn’t at Harvard or Yale or anything like that.) But as a current TA at Harvard, I can tell you that where someone went as an undergrad (or grad student) tells you zero about his/her capabilities or personality. I’ve had sweet, great students, and also some who were dumb as bricks and/or arrogant, self-involved pricks. My classmates come from all range of schools, including non-first-tier state universities, and there is no correlation between university ranking and ability in the discipline, much less intelligence.

  34. I know that there are a lot of uppity snots that go to Harvard and Yale and the like and that’s it really easy to bash them (and indeed there are some of them who need a good bashing), but there are certainly a majority who are hardworking, caring individuals who really care about making a difference in the world, no matter what their background is.

    I can see that. It’s just that the obnoxious ones are the only ones you notice.

    USC graduates, on the other hand, are all terrible, terrible people. (Kidding…or am I?)

  35. DerelictDaughter11

    Ya know, I read this post earlier when it had only one comment and I couldn’t think of anything interesting to say so I declined to comment. Now, after reading everyone else’s input, I’ll chime in with…still nothing particularly interesting. 🙂

    My best friend’s roommate when to UVA and he is one of my favorite people – smart, reasonable, and all around awesome. I would venture a guess, however, that he didn’t get that way as a result of his choice of university.

    NYC subways…all I can say is “wow”. First of all, I grew up in Long Island, so I’m all Lil Ms. Suburb. I work in Downtown Brooklyn and my lazy ass rides the 2/3 or the R (sometimes with a lucky transfer to the B/Q at DeKalb) a whole two stops back and forth from the LIRR to my office. I venture into the city, too, for various meetings, evening classes on the Upper East, happy hours, and such. The short time I spend on the subways each day, though, makes me wonder a) “Why don’t I just walk?”, and b) just generally, “What the hell?”. 🙂

    Also, I hope you New Yorkers are familiar with overheardinnewyork.com – it provides little rays of sunshine like this all day long. 🙂

    – The Commenter Formerly Known as WitchWay11/TCFKAWW11
    (i got bored)

  36. DerelictDaughter11

    P.S. I need to lay off the smilies, don’t I? hehehe

  37. And women from San Diego State are overly-tanned sexual libertines.

    No, really…go Aztecs!

  38. I don’t have a degree (yet), but I did get cast in a production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Yale Dramat (former theatrical home to Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, Meryl Streep, Christopher Durang…yes, good company), and that’s when I found out that getting accepted to Yale does not mean one is intelligent. It often means one is accomplished, though.

    My subway story: When I was about 6, my Aunt Maureen took my older sister Theresa and I to the Natural History Museum. We were getting on the train after the museum visit, and I got distracted by something, and -whomp- the subway doors closed – I was on the platform, and my Aunt and sister were on the train. Thankfully, before I even had time to start crying, someone stopped the train to let me on.

  39. JoshNC

    I have no great subway stories, as I don’t live in an area that has subways or even rush hour traffic.

    “My other favorite was when I used to carry my Kali lunch box with me.”

    Heather, where do you get a Kali lunch box? I want one. That is simply awesome.

  40. Tart, I adore your annoyed posts. They are priceless and make my day every time.

    Sweet! And now for my other specialty: Pictures of kids I babysit for. Soooo cute!

  41. I got it at lunchboxes.com, of all god/dess awful palces. It doesn’t look like they have them anymore but they do have Ganesha and Shiva and Krishna.

    I am surprised that the Harold and Kumar lunch box is so small. One would think it would be bigger to fit all those munchies……

  42. oddjob

    some dickwad UVA student in his popped-collar polo shirt was holding up a sign that said CULTURE VS. AGRICULTURE.

    YAWN…….

    I’m not a graduate of either, nor of an “Ivy”, but I know that attitude is as ancient as Aristophanes. I’ve also heard before that during the Harvard/Cornell ice hockey game Harvard students usually manage to tie a rubber chicken to the Cornell goal as a reminder and put-down that Cornell is the only Ivy League school that is also a land grant university, and thus has an Ag. school.

    (From what I hear, Cornell is also about the only Ivy League school largely free of grade inflation problems. Harvard’s grade inflation is horrendous. Most of the students graduate “cum laude”!)

  43. Kevin

    I loved the subways in Boston for horror-comedey stories and miss the fact that I don’t ride them anymore

    I’ve only been on the Boston subways a couple of times, but my niece is there now, and on her way to Boston University, her family decided to take the subway, with her moving in luggage (so, two big bags * 4 people) during rush hour.

    At her stop, as the family struggled to get from the lower part of the car to the door someone yelled at her “Haven’t you ever heard of a T-A-X-I?” to which my niece yelled back “You obviously haven’t met my D-A-D!”

    I figure she’ll get along OK there.

  44. oddjob

    Heather, where do you get a Kali lunch box?

    LOL! The idea of Kali on a lunch box also brought a smile to my face!

  45. Arkades

    When I was doing “university shopping” and visited Yale, I asked each person with whom I met to tell me why I should go to Yale. The first response from three different people was not “You’ll get a top-notch education!” but “You’ll be able to say you went to Yale!”

    When I was doing university shopping, at certain schools I encountered a real vibe of “So. Tell me why we should accept you.” (Mind you, these were preliminary visits during my junior year of high school, not actual interviews for admission or scholarships or anything like that.) I always mentally crossed schools like that off my list right away; if you can’t even bother to tone down the crappy snootier-than-thou attitude for a half-hour meeting with a prospective student, it’s not anyplace I want to be, thank you very much.

    Conversely, other schools had a vibe more along the lines of “We really want you to pick us, and here are some reasons you might want to come to school here.” Those schools stayed on my list, because it definitely seemed like they had a better set of priorities in mind. Plus, when you’re a shy teenager, friendliness really counts.

    Places I felt welcome got high marks over places that seemed to judge everyone.

  46. I rode the #1 train to the Bronx every school day for 6 years when I was growing up. Good times.

    I went to Vassar, and generally don’t talk about it. At the prep school I attended, at least 20% of my graduating class went on to either Yale or Harvard, no lie. The fact that I didn’t get into any of the Ivys meant that I was considered somewhat of a loser, regardless of the fact that Vassar is also generally recognized as a top school.

    These days, out here on the West Coast, everyone went to either Berkeley or Stanford, and nobody cares about the east coast schools.

  47. oddjob

    I figure she’ll get along OK there.

    LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Indeed!

  48. out here on the West Coast, everyone went to either Berkeley or Stanford

    Or San Diego State.

    …they give you 40 condoms every time you visit Health Services! It’s a win for everyone.

  49. One time they gave me tropical fruit-flavored lube. I was like, what the floob am I going to do with this? Put it on my ice cream? Who puts this stuff in their mouth?

  50. oddjob

    Who puts this stuff in their mouth?

    Ummmm, not that I would include myself in said group, but, ummmmm, do you want an answer to that question?

  51. Betsy

    At her stop, as the family struggled to get from the lower part of the car to the door someone yelled at her “Haven’t you ever heard of a T-A-X-I?” to which my niece yelled back “You obviously haven’t met my D-A-D!”

    I figure she’ll get along OK there.

    Hah! Yeah, i reckon so. Where is she from originally?

  52. do you want an answer to that question?

    It was mostly rhetorical.

  53. Tart, sweetie…I know you’re new to the city and all, but…

    They don’t call it the “F” train for nothing.

  54. I know you’re new to the city and all, but…

    It don’t take no six months to realize that I commute on an old, slow-moving train with a bunch of potty-mouthed ruffians.

  55. someone thinks they are in 25th hour. someone is incorrect. monologues are a privilege, not a right.

  56. One time they gave me tropical fruit-flavored lube. I was like, what the floob am I going to do with this? Put it on my ice cream? Who puts this stuff in their mouth?

    Along these lines, a few years ago I was driving a very nice, very pretty young man who’d won some bootblack title or other to the airport. I’d been getting into bootblacking myself, and we talked about it some and he said I should join some of the bootblack Yahoo!Groups and suchlike. “This guy wrote in asking how to get lube off the toe of someone’s boot,” he told me. Gracious he had pretty eyes. But anyway. “How do you get lube on the toe of your boot to begin with?”

    I stared. Nope, not kidding, he genuinely didn’t know. Dang. So I explained how one might, theoretically, get lube on the toe of one’s boot by placing it inside someone else.

    “Oh.” Yeah.

    My life makes for such good stories.

  57. Tart,

    I think it’s so cute that it still bugs you, is all…

  58. Susan

    My subway story (or rather tube story, since it was in London):

    Returning to my friend’s house after the theatre. About 10 people in the car. Very drunk fellow (absolutely reeking) gets on the train and begins to sing “Delilah.” He waves his arms as if conducting a sing-along, and then slumps into a seat as he sings:

    She stood there laughing
    I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more
    My, my, my, delilah
    Why, why, why, delilah
    So before they come to break down the door
    Forgive me delilah I just couldnt take any more
    Forgive me delilah I just couldnt take any more

    Gets up from the seat(think James Brown), and starts the song again. By this time, the only person on the train who isn’t singing along with him is my broom-up-the-arse friend. This goes on for a couple of stops before he leaves, but not before he has taken a bow and refuses offers of money. Now, that’s theatre!

  59. Never mind all that. WTF is up with the “They charge you forty-five cents on your phone bill if you live near a train station.” line?!?!?!?

  60. Pingback: Tart Juice

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