New Book Offers Laughs and Advice On How to Survive Rush Hour in New York City

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Subway Etiquette is perfect for the manners-challenged reader on any gift list…or for anyone who has ever fought back the urge to scream while riding the train.

R.D. Fowler was fed up. Riding the subway during rush hour had never been an experience she would have mistaken for “pleasant,” but rudeness seemed to be reaching epidemic levels. Every day, as she battled her fellow New Yorkers for space on the lurching, screeching local train that took her from the Bronx into Manhattan, Ms. Fowler kept asking the same questions:

  • Why won’t this person take off her backpack?
  • Who thinks it’s okay to lean against the pole and

force everyone else to grab the ceiling?

  • Does that guy really need all three of those seats?
  • And, of course, what is that awful smell?

While most subway riders accept rudeness as an unwanted part of their $2.00 fare, Ms. Fowler decided to do something about it.

“I went on Craigslist to vent my anger,” said Ms. Fowler. “And I asked other people what made them crazy when they rode the trains and buses.”

What started with a simple post on an online bulletin board quickly grew into something much bigger. “It definitely struck a nerve,” said Fowler. “I was not alone in noticing that there were some serious subway etiquette problems out there.”

Ms. Fowler decided to catalogue and share the responses she had received, and the results can be found in her new book Subway Etiquette: The Rules We Should All Know, Especially During Rush Hour, available online via Author House, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders.

And just what did New Yorkers have to say to their fellow travelers?

Riders should respect each other’s privacy: “Don’t lean over my shoulder to read my newspaper!”

The train is not the place for personal grooming: “The vision of flying fingernails is disgusting!”

Not everyone has the same definition of entertainment: “I hate it when I need to hear the announcements but the original cast of Stomp is banging away on plastic wastebaskets!”

Hygiene should not be optional: “If you know you’re going to be riding the train, brush your teeth!”

From giving up your seat to a pregnant woman to realizing that other riders might not be thrilled you decided to travel with your bike, backpack, sleeping bag and shopping cart, Ms. Fowler’s book offers an interesting, and often hilarious, look into the daily commute that millions endure everyday. For those who might not realize that they’re part of the problem, she also offers some solid advice on how to remember that you are, after all, riding “public” transportation.

But don’t worry. Ms. Fowler isn’t asking New Yorkers to stop being New Yorkers, nor is she trying to take the “rush” out of rush hour. It is the Big Apple, after all; so when your next train pulls in “get out of the way or you will get pushed out of the way.”

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Rose Fowler

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