Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Metro Etiquette 101

It might seem pretty standard that common courtesy should extend to underground as well as above ground, but you'd be surprised. Ever since I moved to the city (almost four months now), I've made it a priority to use to the Metro system as much as possible after I witnessed the atrocity that is LA traffic. Seriously, in North Carolina, I could pretty much get anywhere in about 15 minutes. Here, it's about a hour. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. 

So the Metro became my new best friend. And when I was trying to find a night job after my internship, I made sure the restaurant was right beside a Metro station. Because of that, taking the Metro became a part of my daily routine– I took it twice a day, at least five days a week and most of the time took the last train, which if anyone has been on knows that it includes a completely different scene than during the day (more on that later).

That aside, however, here is a list of basic guidelines to follow for riding the Metro that you may or may not be aware of:

1. Wear headphones. Or have a book or play a game on your phone (Blitz and Unblock Me are Wifi-free games)– anything that will keep you busy or at least appear distracted. I say this because if you miss your train you will be waiting around 15 minutes for the next one to come and it kills time. Also, people in LA have a habit of latching onto you if you are hands/ears-free. You basically might as well wear a sign around your neck that says "Please bother me." Beggers, hyper-talkative nuts, creepers and the homeless will crawl to you like you're Paris Hilton. Your only savior? Jam out to some tunes.

2. Use your Tap card. For real though. I mean yes, you can probably get away with not using your Metro card and be completely Scott-free 95% of the time. However, I have had my Tap scanned and checked at stops several times before and there is no telling when the security guards are going to be there. And sure, I've had it done several times during rush hour in particular, when everyone is leaving from work and at certain popular stops Downtown and in Hollywood, but save yourself the heartache and just pay the $1.50 it takes for a ride. I knew a guy that said a guard chased him down the station because he didn't pay. That's embarrassing– don't be that guy.

3. Let people come out of the train before you get on. I know we are all in a rush but come on people! It's pretty much a unsaid rule that when the train comes, you have to let the people inside out before you clamber in. It is actually more ineffective to try and squeeze yourself inside before everyone else patiently waiting, and hold them up even more because you've now become an extra obstacle for the passengers trying to get out. And it's rude. You'll still get on the train in the end, I swear.

4. Leave the disabled seat for people that actually need it. Nothing pisses me off more than seeing a obviously healthy and able-bodied man or woman sit in the designated handicapped seat when there are others who really should be in it. Sure, if there's no one disabled on the train then that seat is all yours; I know how it is: there's no other seats available sometimes, it gets crowded and you're tired. I get it. But as soon as a child, or an elderly person, or someone who is just obviously in need of it more than you, I strongly believe that you should offer your seat to them. You'll most likely find another seat at the next stop.

5. Always have something to hold onto. One time I was sitting on the inside of the two-seater when I stood up to signal to the man next to me that it was my stop. It was very crowded however, so I didn't have time to step out into the aisle before the train came to a halt. Splat. I didn't get a chance to grab onto anything quick enough and fell face-first into an awkward half-bent position on top of the man. My chest was basically in his face. Mortifying. So yes, when the operator alerts that a stop is coming up or you feel that the train is slowing down, please hold onto something. Unless you are unlike me and have perfect balance, in which case I am very jealous.

And if nothing else please remember: Just because it's public transportation doesn't mean common courtesy doesn't exist. 

Please and thank you.

My favorite metro station and the closest one to my apartment, Hollywood and Vine's ceiling is completely covered by blue film reels and has columns in the shape of palm trees.  Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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