We’ve read the stories, apartments the size of shoe boxes, using the kitchen as a closet, and subsisting off delivery, but NYC transportation isn’t commented on nearly as much. Further, in comparison to living in a minuscule sized apartment, I think it’s much harder to adapt oneself to the public transportation system especially having come from a fairly rural area. I can’t say that I’m fully acclimated but I have learned a few things.
Driving: In WI, I drove everywhere and certainly never had to parallel park (much to the relief of my Dad). Here in Manhattan I can’t possibly think why anyone would want a car, unless he or she wants to essentially pay for another month’s rent to park. The alternative is to do opposite side streets parking which means twice weekly sitting in your vehicle waiting for the street sweeper to come by which he does 5 minutes until the interval is up and dance with the other vehicles hoping to get back into the spot after he has passed which many times you can’t because some asshole, most likely a New Jerseyan, comes toodling down the block with no regard for the drivers who’ve been there for an hour and a half, throws off the steps and creates a cluster of cars. (NJ, why most New Yorker’s you come across are angry.) If you’re not lucky enough to be able to jockey for a spot you’re left searching aimlessly for parking. There is never parking in Manhattan.
The Subway: Expedient, efficient… more often than not. I’m not claustrophobic, but being underground squeezed into a train car? Not my idea of fun. Why does it always seem that I get pushed against the person that probably hasn’t showered in a week? I find morning to travel to be far worse traveling from the UES downtown than the UWS. I’ve never understood why there is 1 subway line on the east and 3 on the west when there are twice as many people on the east? However, if you can squeeze yourself onto a train there are benefits to a.m. travel as 1) There’s something about the whiff of urine that wakes me up as I exit the station at Grand Central. I suppose it makes sense after all, for ages people have been using ammonia smelling salts to revive another from a faint. Who needs coffee? ( Well, I still do, but that’s another blog.)
The Bus: Rudeness personified. Not for those lacking patience. Cell phones work, I seem to always manage to get the loudest, deafest old lady yacking away. I want to take the phone and throw it out the window (Read – I want to throw it at the offender). Additionally, this is the slowest form of transportation in the City. On a good day it takes me 25 minutes to make it from 1 end to the other, no east or west distinction on this one. Slow is slow. The good part is that if one isn’t in a rush it’s a great opportunity to catch up on reading. I made it halfway through War and Peace the other day.
Major point of caution! Rainy days. Can be a source of mean-spirited laughter as people elbow and vie for position to be the first on the bus and end up closest to the curb. The bus pulls up creating a tsunami of water, dirt and sludge drenching the bully. Karma, gotta love it, that is if you’re not a bully or mean-spirited. I’ve been the recipient of bad karma, myself having gotten drenched as I stood chuckling at the end of the line not able to get on the bus, now at the front of line for next bus and getting showered with the wave that comes from the bus pulling away.
On this same note, taxi drivers are notorious for seeking out idiots, I can say that because I was said idiot, that stands by on the curb or in the road desperately flagging a taxi. I’ve seen taxi drivers shift lanes and speed up just to see what kind of splash they can create. The ridiculous thing is, and again I’m guilty, a person gets far wetter standing in the rain trying to get a taxi than if that individual would walk the mere 4 blocks at most to the subway.
Taxi’s – It’s a love hate relationship. I personally have an affinity for door-to-door chauffeur service. Alas, they can be a bit expensive, but I think someday, soon, the right one will pull up and I’ll win money from riding! Downfall, I won’t end up in the Cash Cab and will end up on Taxi-Cab confessions. Also, despite wanting to throw cell phones at old ladies, I’m really not a violent vocal person and the taxi drivers tend to like to take me for a ride… taking the most out-of- the- way, traffic congested route with the expected hike in taxi fare of course.
This leaves to walking. Legs are by far the best form of transportation. Walking is a great form of exercise and far less taxing on the nerves than other forms of moving about the City. Also, through exercise endorphins are released making us feel good double bonus. New York City ranks in the top 20 for leanest cities in the United States. Another major plus, I’m conditioning my lungs. I feel justified in having a drag as I walk and puff down the street. I certainly can’t smoke on any other form of public transportation, huge downer. If one dresses appropriately for the weather, can’t go wrong. A major downfall is walking any given distance in high heels. I’m going to run for mayor of NYC on the platform of getting rid of subway grates. Well, not getting rid of entirely, just expanding the size of the vents, but minimizing the holes. They are the perfect size to get a stiletto stuck and to try to get past the grate unscathed is like navigating a mine field. Far too many times I have moved forward whilst my foot, in a stuck heel was left behind.
All in all, there’s no easy way to navigate the city. Nevertheless, in difference to my driving days, after having tried to parallel park too many times and trying to drive in general left dings in the car and my Dad making me get my own car and thus having a payment. Subsequently, this led to insurance payment, obscene gas prices, maintenance, etc, etc. I spend a mere $80 a month on public transport (I care not to think about and factor in the cost of ruined shoes). The hiccups and stresses that come with public transport don’t compare to what I (and my Dad) are saving in owning a car