1) Over-the-shoulder reading will not make you any new friends
If you think the person whose book/magazine/alternative newsweekly you’re reading, over their shoulder, doesn’t notice you’re doing it, you’re so clearly wrong. And while you might think you have every right to sigh in exasperation, roll your eyes, and tap your feet to the tune of a little punk-metal ditty you made up with the chorus “Slow readers piss their pants/Fast readers rule the world” when your neighbor takes four times as long as you did to read that one text-heavy page of a New Yorker profile you memorized 15 minutes ago, you don’t. Because it’s not yours.
2) Kindly refrain from excessive personal grooming
To be sure, not everyone looks like they were blessed with soft, glowing skin and a shining mane at 9 am — and we busy urban dwellers are excellent multi-taskers. But this doesn’t mean that it’s cool for you to use your seatmate’s shoulder as a makeshift vanity table while you set up shop and proceed to pluck, straighten, prime, and powder yourself into anchorwoman readiness. (Side note: not only is it awkward to observe you poking yourself in the eye with a mascara wand and curler, it’s dangerous. Both for your health and our cringe reflex.)
3) If you don’t take off your enormous backpack/large duffel bag/gargantuan laptop case/overstuffed knapsack/300-pound satchel, someone is going to get hurt
Is that bag yours? Yes, the one that looks like it’s filled to bursting with a couple of small human beings, 50 textbooks, and a tuba? Please, take it off and place your beloved burden gently on the floor between your feet — it’s going to be okay! There’s no other option, really. Kept on your shoulder or strapped to your back, you’re guaranteed to annoy — if not bruise or even maim — everyone within a few-inch radius. (Not to mention the precious standing room you’re taking up.) Our patience, like that thrift-store canvas tote crammed to the hilt with your smelly gym clothes that keeps poking us in the ribs, has worn unattractively thin. Experience the freedom of a T ride sans the weight of the world on your shoulders!
4) Pole huggers are the true vermin of the subway
Hah, you thought it was the rats? Nope! The real disease bags in question are the thoughtless louts who insist on utilizing one single, metal pole — brilliantly invented and placed so that several people at once (imagine!) can hold on as the T careens at back-breaking speed around Packard’s Corner — for themselves. These selfish bastards embrace the pole, then splay their entire torso across it to better balance themselves while they chat aimlessly on their cell phones, oblivious to the needs of others. What is the best way to deal with such egotistical pests? Despite their rudeness, avoid passive-aggressiveness and be patient, loving, and polite to a fault (e.g., “Pardon me, shithead, but is my desire to live past Science Park getting in the way of your leisurely pursuits? Sorry, but would you mind terribly if I clung to an inch of this stupid metal stick so as not to die on this heaving box on wheels? Thanks!”).