Not only do New Yorkers work longer weeks than the rest of the country, but we also have longer average commutes than the rest of the United States.
The average New Yorker spends six hours a week commuting. That’s 312 hours a year. A full 13 days.
Some people just don’t know how to ride the train, which is by far the most convenient way to commute in NYC. Through their ignorance, they impede everybody else’s day.
I’m talking about the worst of all subway offenses. Worse than manspreading, worse even than eating takeout on the train.
Let’s call it “door-bunching.”
You get on the train. It’s a little after 8 a.m. You’re moseying your way to the office. Though you’re still pretty deep in Brooklyn or Queens, the car is somewhat full. Any leftover seats are quickly occupied by the pregnant or infirm, as they should be.
You’re getting closer into the city, the standing room is starting to get scarce.
And you spot it. People are bunching up by the door.
Instead of making their way to the center and ends of the car, they insist on standing right in the path of entry — and exit — in this car that’s on rails that magically takes us around the city.
That means people trying to get out of the train need to fight their way through bags, books, strollers, and headphone cords. People trying to get onto the train have to pound through a similar obstacle course, all while the offenders give them the side-eye for daring to infringe upon their personal space while they themselves are standing in THE MIDDLE of the path of EVERYBODY on the train.
Maybe these people are tourists. Maybe not. Maybe they have some condition that prevents them from considering the experience of the human beings around them. But even people who aren’t sociopaths are capable of doing sociopathic things.
Why do people take the more civilized path of getting out of everybody’s way when they’re in a crowded space?
The psychology nerd in me wants to identify it as high-context versus low-context perception. In the former, you’re aware that you are part of a larger environment than you immediately perceive. In the latter, you assume that only the things directly in front of you exist, which is somehow more OK if you’re living far away from one another in an exurb.
But if you live in the dense city, you’re pressed up against your fellow citizens.
As Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker argues in “the Better Angels of Our Nature,” cities have the potential to civilize us. Because we live tightly packed together, we are more regularly confronted with the fact that other people exist.
We should probably make some room for them.
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