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Nina In New York: Post-Hurricane Patience Dwindles

Commuters ride the F train November 1, 2012 in New York City. (credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

Commuters ride the F train November 1, 2012 in New York City. (credit: Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

Superstorm Sandy

A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.
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By Nina Pajak

Dear fellow New Yorkers,

Please. Back. Up.

Like, seriously. We value our personal space. I do not need to know what you had for breakfast just by being able to smell it on you during my morning commute. This isn’t Europe. If we’re going to start acting like Europe, I’d like to at least reap the benefits of better electronics or a significantly shorter workweek and far more naps and wine-soaked lunches.

But we’re not Europe, so I repeat: back it up.

It’s not really anyone’s fault. But after a full week of limited MTA service, I feel like I’m going to lose it at any second. In fact, it seems everyone is on the same page. Between the commuter trains continually being interrupted, mercilessly long lines for gas, and subway cars and platforms and buses so overcrowded that hordes of people are forced to pack in to the gills or opt to wait for the next one to come along, we’re entering dangerous territory.

The animosity and strained patience and overall bad voodoo going around is palpable. We’re like a bubbling cauldron of anger and frustration. I keep thinking at any moment, someone is going to just haul off and punch someone else for not pushing into the center of the car. This place is turning into the New York City portrayed Ghostbusters II, where all the townspeople are seething and constantly on the verge of fits of rage and violence due to rivers of angry pink slime roiling just beneath the sidewalks. Come to think of it, has anyone gone down to check the sewers for ectoplasmic goo? I would do it, but I could never get past that level in the computer game. Kept falling in and getting swept to my death. But really, someone should do it before we find ourselves subjugated to the whims of a demon overlord who entered this dimension through a really hideous oil painting.

Man, I love those movies.

Anyway, my point is that we seem to have hit our limit. And being jammed into subway cars like sardines every single day simply highlights everyone’s bad behavior, therefore causing more aggravation and annoyance through the ranks. Pole-hugging, inconsiderately large backpacks, noisy phone games, loud gum chewing, sharp elbows, people who shove in before others have squeezed out, irritating and slow-moving tourists—there is truly no room for these sorts of infractions this week. Screw neighborliness and all the kumbaya some news outlets have been trying to sell lately. We are all sick and tired of being subjected to our fellow citizens. The people can only take so much. And the people are revolting. The rage in the air is palpable. To plagiarize myself: There’s nothing like a week of limited subway service to make us all come together and realize how much we truly dislike one another.

Of course, if this is the worst indignity some of us will suffer in the course of Sandy’s reign of terror, we are extremely lucky. The fact that this is a complaint is already testament to how lucky many of us have been. And we realize that. I think in astonishing numbers, most people in the position to gripe about the subways really are helping those who are wishing right now that a bad commute was their only problem.

So we’re still nicer than a lot of outsiders think.

But not that nice.

And not for much longer.