Pole Etiquette


Don’t get me started on what has been one of the worst aspects of my pregnancy thus far, rivaling sobriety: commuting to work on the subway.  The ease of the F train, Dumbo to Midtown in 25 minutes with all of NYC’s best neighborhood’s in between has been a bragging point for me, since I first moved to Brooklyn.  Its SO convenient!  Lately though, I begin to dread descending the 78 stairs  and dust ball filled tunnel that lead to my formerly beloved letter line before I brush my teeth.  Never mind dodging men 5x my size running towards me in an attempt to traverse the 200 yards to the platform before the train closes it doors, or the slow climb I make back to daylight at the end of my workday, where I am frequently outpaced by an old lady carrying all of Dumbo’s recycling in garbage bags on her back.  I can usually handle the delays in between stops which engender shortness of breath, clammy palms, and a sweaty brow, the overcrowding which results in my extended (yet somehow still not obviously pregnant to my fellow straphangers) belly being shoved and jostled, or the endless coughing and sneezing which makes me glad I got my flu shot for the first time ever. The real problem here are those riders who  lack pole etiquette!  You know I am talking about you,  tall guy with your gangly limbs wrapped around the pole so that no one else can get a finger on it otherwise. Or the lady who has sandwiched the pole between her butt cheeks as she enjoys 50 Shades of Gray on her Nook.  Subway poles are public spaces and safety mechanisms.  Do not get all up on it in some misguided stripper fantasy of yours!   Just grab on, extend your arm and move aside so that your fellow straphangers don’t have to battle with gravity when the train lurches to a stop at 2nd Avenue.

With the change in your center of gravity during pregnancy, your balance is compromised and subway surfing becomes particularly hazardous to your health and that of those standing next to you.  Holding on to the pole on a moving train can be critical!   Given my stature, I have to really reach to grasp the high poles, and its is mind boggling that the seated person who has the pleasure of my belly in their face won’t offer me their spot.  In my pre-pregnancy days, I used to racially profile Chinese families sitting on the subway, thinking that most of them would be heading to school or work at the next stop,  East Broadway and I could claim their place.  Now, its Hispanic men who I look for. Their sense of chivalry allows them quickly to spot a compromised lady.  I barely have to bat an eyelash in their direction and a seat is proffered to me.

As I round the corner into the final stretch of this pregnancy, I am a little anxious about how my growing belly, clad in bulky winter gear will fare on my commute.  Lately I’ve taken to getting up earlier to ride the F train with the Mr. who  protects and stabilizes me for the first half of my ride.  He is constantly encouraging me to open up my coat and stick out my stomach in a vague attempt to steak my claim to a seat. Sometimes he rubs my stomach, talks about the baby and makes eye contact with unassuming sitters, loudly proclaiming that I am entitled to a seat in the disabled area! So embarrassing.

So, with the holiday season upon us, I ask you to please be aware of your surroundings and don’t hog the pole! If you see an elderly or pregnant woman on the train (I’ll be rocking a faux fur leopard print swing coat for the next 3 months), offer your seat! Courtesy IS contagious!



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