While we stand together

I’ve already described the three basic types of people you will meet on the LIRR. However, an event that occurred yesterday reminded me that there are certain subsets that warrant their own explanations.

Yesterday, a train became “disabled” in Penn, and all of the trains were affected in the way of delays and “limited service” for the majority of the evening commute.

Putting aside how it enrages me that a single train can somehow upset an entire transportation system, I was fortunate that as I approached Penn, they were just beginning to allow people back into the station and trains were proceeding in their “limited” and “disabled” fashion. Naturally, this had some consequences. Namely, the cars were so crammed it made the blizzard debacle of 2011 look like a cozy slumber party.

I once said on this blog that these sorts of inconveniences often bond commuters. We talk to people we would otherwise ignore. We joke at the railroad’s expense. But the last two times I’ve dealt with overcrowded cars, I’ve experienced what I would call “Everything That Is Wrong With The World.”

I’ll explain.

When a group of people are crammed together in the face of commuting adversity, a number of specific personalities arise.

1. The Class Clown
This is the guy who thinks it’s his job to lighten the mood. It’s important to note that there are actually two different types of CC. One is a loudmouth who cracks jokes just to hear himself talk, whether or not he or she gets a favorable response. The other is a person who is just so generally easy-going and good-natured that if you don’t chuckle along, you realize you’re just being bitter and self-centered. This person is extremely helpful at reminding everyone that it’s just a crowded train, and we’re all going to get through it. Last nifty, this was a guy with long hair and a skateboard (but a bespoke jacket that undercut his “too cool for school” attitude). He managed to befriend everyone exhort being annoying. Well done, sir.

2. The Person Who Flips Out
This person is, in a large part, why CCs are so helpful. This person responds to unfavorable circumstances by simply screaming at everyone when they don’t get their way. They’re generally immature and selfish, and it’s safe to assume they’ve never experienced actual crises in their life. (I have also referred to them as “easy lifers.”) At some point, they will start a fight with almost everyone within a four foot radius, prompting someone to yell, “All right! Let’s everyone just calm down!” Last night, this was a teen girl with a fondness of the F-word who for some reason seemed to think her plight was worse than everyone else’s and that we were all just kidding around when we told her there was no room. She was a sweetheart.

3. The Old Man Who Just Gets Furious
This guy is almost more alarming that the PWFO. He’s sitting quietly, his eyes closed in silent fury at the delay in his life, but the second the mood changes one degree toward the more annoying side of the scale (for example, when the PWFO enters the scene), he will snap. This can start a screaming match between him and another vocal party, however, his anger is more controlled. Read: a little scarier. Usually, though, he’ll tire of the fight before things can escalate. He’s too old for this, after all. Last night, this was the guy who screamed, “You SHUT your MOUTH!” at the bratty tween. At some point, someone actually started filming their interchange for YouTube. Wish I was kidding.

4. The Person Who Looks Terrified The Whole Time
Last night, this was a girl who wad about 4’8″. She was cute, but tiny, and obviously aware that if things went awry, she did not have the stature to prevent herself from being trampled. This person will generally stare in suspicious panic at anyone who makes a loud noise, their hand clutching desperately at any stable surface to keep themselves upright. They might try to join in on any good-natured joking that occurs, but it will always be with a nervous laugh that will undercut any facade of ease they’ve worked up.

5. The Person Who Just Plans To Get Through It
I like to think of myself as this person. I’ll roll my eyes at the crazies, make a few jokes about how “this is my nightmare,” and smile conspiratorially at the people who seem to be like-minded, but in general I’ll keep to myself and concentrate on not locking my knees or bumping in to anyone. There was also a few other people like this in my car last night. You can usually recognize them because they’ll say things like, “Geez Louise!” and “Only in New York, right?”

Of course, you also have the people who just literally shut their eyes and ignore everything until they get to their stop, but these are usually people who are lucky enough to have found a seat. They miss all the fun that happens by the doors anyway.

2 thoughts on “While we stand together

  1. Have you considered anthropology?

    Geez, I wish we all weren’t so close to full panic mode, but the world is certainly not helping.

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