How to Stay Calm On the New York City Subway

If, due to some drug-induced delusion, you start to believe that New York City actually has one or two kind human beings, just take one ride on the NYC subway. While not as crowded as an average Mumbai train, the NYC subway is still not a place where kindness and empathy are commonplace.

But, the next time New Yorkers enter the dank underground passages of the NYC subway, they do not have to descend into oblivion, because here is the ultimate guide to staying calm on the subway.

Riding our subway is not as much about what you’re supposed to do, as it is about how you react to what others do. Don’t get me wrong: personal demeanor certainly matters. For example, if you regularly try to shove your way into a crowded car before passangers have gotten off, you're probably ruining everyone’s experience.

If you’re the couple that thinks the best place to start your daily edition of Langue Lutte is the subway, you’re only grossing people out, not to mention forcing some parents to have the talk much earlier than they would like.

In fact, the list of crappy things you can do is endless. Maybe you start eating that smelly pretzel from the questionable food cart. Maybe you blast your iPod and force everyone to listen to Rihanna. Maybe you hold open the doors for all those people that were clearly meant to miss this train. Point being, you’re messing things up for others and you shouldn’t.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the subway, you don’t meet most people. You meet all people. And that is where “feeling” comes in.

Before the end of this week, you will either run into someone who couldn’t wait to get that falafel out the second they sat down next to you, someone who can’t stop listening to Livin’ La Vida Loca in your ear, and, if you’re really lucky, someone who has an important social/religious/political message and they want to you to either donate/listen/visit their website for more. There’s nothing you can do to change that, so the best thing to do is to just deal with it.

See that young couple making out? Think back to when you were young and accept that society has fallen into decadence. Someone holding a door open and getting you late? Those 30 seconds will not make a difference in your career at all. Come across some singers or dancers that are taking up space with their performance? Go watch a Honey rerun on VH1 and realize that a lot of these dancers are, quite literally, starving artists.

And, maybe, just maybe, that person asking for money really needs it or that person preaching really does believe he is saving your soul. As judgmental as that can sometimes sound, there's something sweet about that, no?

Of course, mindsets don’t change reality, and the reality is that these things are often annoying. But if you are willing to recognize — or at least happily ignore — these acts as another part of your life, your day may start out a little better. Change what you can, accept what you can’t; if you approach the subway with that state of mind, you’ll probably be okay.

Oh, and by the way, the time to pull out your card is when you are about to reach the turnstile; not when you’re standing in front of it.