Thursday, February 26, 2015

Zoe vs. Subway Etiquette

Now that Zoe's getting older, increasingly we've been taking the train instead of the stroller to and from preschool each day. At first I was preoccupied with holding her hand to make sure she stayed far from the edge of the subway platform. And I was also distracted by the charm of her enthusiasm for a mode of transportation I take day after soul-deadening day.

Fact: each day anywhere from 96 to 97% of
subway riders are screaming internally.

Then the novelty wore off. And I noticed something.
Zoe is all the people who annoy me on the subway.

The Sudden Stopper
All that matters to them is that they make it. Onto the train. Off the train. Through the turnstile. To the bottom/top of the stairway. They get where they're going and then immediately come to a complete halt, forcing the person behind them to stop short. (My personal fave is the person who blocks the entrance to the train car.)
Because I'm also responsible for Zoe, and she's still small, I can at least corral her or sort of give her little shoves ("Mommy, stop pushing!"), but it still drives me batty.

The Close Sitter
Personal space is a rare commodity on the subway. There are rules, and not everyone follows them. If there are others seats available, you don't need to sit right next to someone! Seriously, there are not enough exclamation points.
Zoe hasn't gotten the memo.
And, though she's less than 40 pounds and just over 40 inches, she needs three seats. She's like the guy who sits with his legs wide open, clearly overcompensating, or the New York Times reader who must suffer from a rare birth defect rendering them unable to fold paper because that's the only reasonable explanation for why they keep elbowing you.

My comfort zone lies somewhere
beyond the edge of the cone.
Jean-Louis Grall (Creative Commons)

When she's sitting, Zoe's feet are right at her neighbor's shin level, perfectly positioned for kicking.
"Sorry!" I say to the stranger, then, "Keep your feet to yourself, Zoe."
In response, she barks. Which brings us to . . .

The Crazy Person Who Talks to Herself
Random exclamations, singing, growling or hissing, and keeping up a dialogue with someone who isn't there. If she wasn't four, fellow passengers would not be smiling patiently.

The Clueless Clutzes
These are the people who get on the train and then fail to account for the fact that the train will move. As if that's not its purpose. So they stand there, contemplating where to stand or sit, and then when the train moves they lurch wildly, often falling on someone.
Each night I usher Zoe onto the train, so then I'm behind her, in nervous suspense. Sit. Right there. Sit.
She finally moves, just as the train does, and is about to fall, so I reach out and jerk her back by the collar of her coat. "Mommy, you're hurting me!"

The Loud Talker
While I'm trying to cover for Zoe's accusations of abuse, she makes loud proclamations about her day---what hurts, who caused the hurt, who didn't listen, can she have a Tic Tac? why can't she have a Tic Tac?

The People Who Think the Train Is Their Living Room
Not only do they spread out with their body and possessions, they remove articles of clothing, and leave messes behind. Food, spilled drinks, nail clippings.
It's only two stops but Zoe wants to take off her hat, her gloves, her scarf. Maybe her boots if her sock fell into it. I say no but then relent on the gloves because how else can she accept the Tic Tac I didn't say I was giving her.

I thought these were Tic Tacs,
but then I ended up in the Matrix.

Inappropriate Socializer
Public transportation, like church, should be a place of quiet contemplation if not angry silence. It's not a place to make friends. And yet she introduces herself. Or inquires in a stage whisper about the girl sitting directly across from us.
"Where is she going? Why? Where does she live? Can we see?"
Often the girl smiles indulgently. Zoe is cute for a stalker.
But the absolute worst is when Zoe sees another child.
"Let's go talk to that kid," she says as my blood instantly turns to ice.
I don't want to talk to that kid or that kid's parent/guardian. When will Zoe get with the antisocial program her father and I have tried to foster in her? Hopefully someday.
Until then I'll distract her with Tic Tacs.
Zoe: 81; Universe: 0

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

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  1. I love it. So true, kids really haven't gotten the memo, have they? My son is finally at the age (11), when he doesn't announce everything at full volume. Of course now he's embarrassed when I speak louder than a whisper.

  2. Haha. There should be a chart graphing that inverse relationship between their loudness/our embarrassment and then when it switches the other way.

  3. Ha, give her a year. I'm still her pack mule.

  4. Oh I remember riding the tube in London when I lived there and then here the L in Chicago. It drove me NUTS when someone invaded my bubble. Even when you are close to me you can me distant. Don't look at me or what I am reading!!!! DO NOT RUB UP AGAINST ME!!!! NO!!!!! Don't lean on me. Don't grab me for balance... There are rules for the BUBBLE :) Nice job.

  5. Kristen Miller HewittMarch 1, 2015 at 3:05 PM

    I've never taken a subway - isn't that odd? But I can't imagine I'd want to socialize with kids or grown ups! Ear buds please!

  6. Kids don't need the memo yet, because we give them a pass. I think I'd find Zoe quite entertaining on the subway...but then again, I'm not her mother and I don't have little kids anymore. Other people's are much more fun.

  7. Elizabeth CatalanoMarch 1, 2015 at 5:12 PM

    Thanks! Yes, agree on all points. No touching, even with your eyes!!

  8. Elizabeth CatalanoMarch 1, 2015 at 5:14 PM

    Right? It's simple. Same idea in planes, buses, etc. And I can't believe you've never taken a subway! You're not missing anything.

  9. Elizabeth CatalanoMarch 1, 2015 at 5:15 PM

    It's true. Some people do find her entertaining. But then I'm scared she'll be rude to them. She does this thing lately where if you compliment her, she grunts or sticks out her tongue. Last thing I need is for her to start a fight!