Monday, April 12, 2010


Quote of the blog:

It poured here a few days ago - the kind of rain that blows sideways and people wear wellies and water finds a way to drip into the subway stations. I walked up the subway stairs past a line of people hurrying downstairs to get out of the rain. A lady walking down the steps stopped suddenly to shake water off her umbrella- causing a human traffic jam. At least ten people were stuck in back of her -many of them still standing in the rain. Since so many of us were coming up the stairs they couldn't just walk around her. A little old lady stopped directly behind her waited a few seconds, glared at the back of the woman's head, and then the grandma jabbed her in the back with her umbrella to prod her down the stairs. I love New York.


If you’ve ever lived in or visited New York City you’ve seen it. It's a phenomenon that exists in every major city but I am willing to bet it’s worse in NYC than anywhere else.

I call it Tourist-Like-Behavior or TLB. It can happen to anyone, anywhere. I think you know the behavior I’m talking about. Symptoms vary and TLB can strike in a moment of weakness, confusion, or deep-thought (or perhaps the absence of thought). One can have adult onset TLB although it can also be hereditary - part of the inherited makeup of otherwise innocent kids living in the five Burroughs. Tourist-Like-Behavior is a dam in the flow of the city. NB: Most TLB sufferers are not tourists: tourists suffer from tourist-behavior - which is usually temporary instead of chronic like many cases of TLB.

Perhaps the city should launch a TLB education campaign. They could post signs and ads like they did for swine flu and cigarette smoking at the entrances to the subways and on sidewalks. Posters might read:

Tourist-Like-Behavior is catching! Don’t spread TLB! For your safety and the safety of those around you please adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Never stand on the stairs - even when you get a phone call.
a. See quote of the blog.

2. Never stop mid-stride (anywhere).
a. People WILL run into you. Sometimes on purpose (like my friend Anne).
Also, see 1a.

3. Let people exit the train before you get on!
a. 4.5 million passengers ride the subway every day to and from the 468 stations positioned on 229 miles of route in New York City. Many people have good subway etiquette: they make room for new passengers, move to the middle of the car when needed, give up seats to the elderly or disabled, don't eat stinky food on the subway, don't blast music, etc.). Unfortunately, one of the side-effects of TLB is an insatiable need to push one's way onto a subway as soon as the doors open - making it difficult for people to exit. People become like sands of the hourglass trying to push through to the other side at the same time, such are the days of our commuter lives. Once on board TLB sufferers may stand in front of the subway doors, unwilling to move out of the way when people try to exit or board.

Just an idea - instead of a monetary fine, the MTA could brand offenders with friendly reminders of TLB etiquette. They could even let people select their tattoo fonts. An Avatar fan could get, “Let People Exit the Train first…” in Papyrus font tattooed across the shoulders or down the forearm. Or "I will never block the stairs again..." in descending letters - like shape poetry. Who knows, it might help stem the pandemic spread of TLB, but we won't know unless we try.

It could also become a new trend. What if people started getting etiquette tattoos? "Give up a seat to the elderly" tattooed around the calf, "Don't talk with your mouth full," across the chest, "Mama taught me not to smack my gum when I chew" tattooed in cursive around the neck or "Don't Litter" tattooed around their bicep. haha. Ok, I'm digressing. Back to TLB -

The MTA and the city could sell merchandise marked with the acronym TLB positioned behind a ghostbuster’s circle and slash. They could sell t-shirts, sunglasses, pens, bags. It just might work and there's a market for it. Everyone wins: you, me, stair-walkers, subway riders, sidewalk-striders, TLB sufferers, tattoo parlors…


  1. So true about subway etiquette. Londoners get-it (British people love queuing and even Londoners seem to follow this ingrained and much-loved national past-time); most New Yorkers get it... Brusselians (people from Brussels) don't get it AT ALL (nor for that matter do Parisians, but they get away with it because they are usually better looking than Brusselians).

  2. I have never been to New York, but I think i can kind of agree based on hazy memories of London.

    I'm going to post about Non-Bellinghamian behavior in my blog. First rule of being a Bellinghamster: don't drive. Second rule: smoke weed. I have failed at the second rule.

  3. pretty funny... i think of tlb a lot too. they always wear white, unlike the ny black, sensible shoes vs the fashionable and chic...also they like to walk or stand still side by side in groups of 5 or more... taking up the entire sidewalk. There is a sure way to tell the difference between a New Yorker and tourist on the train. You know you have become a real New Yorker when you would suffer a train car without air conditioning just to get a seat; you know you are a New Yorker for life when you do the same in a car with a dead homeless.

  4. Not to put any undue pressure on you but I love your posts so much is there any chance that you'll be posting twice a week? Really, it brightens my day.

    Melanie VDG

  5. Etiquette tattoos!?!?
    oh me!
    oh my!

    Brook you're brilliant! I lOVE it!