You know the saying. Some kindness a day keeps the doctor away. Okay, sure, I made that up, but you have to admit it can be pretty darn dreadful out there. November 13 marks World Kindness Day, and it’s about putting forth the effort to lend a helping hand, give a compliment or simply show a smile.
“World Kindness Day is a great day to begin building a new routine which means including intentional moments of kindness, laughter and delight,” VP of The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, Brooke Jones, writes in a blog post. “It also means taking a moment to enjoy and recognize when those things are happening.”
This World Kindness Day, we’re focusing on the place where such kindness seems to be lacking and people are extra nasty: the NYC subway.
“Commuting is so routine, it’s easy to become absorbed in our book or phone and lose awareness of what’s happening around us,” Jaclyn Lindsey, co-founder of global nonprofit Kindness.org, tells Metro. “When you take a moment to really look and listen to what’s going on around you, there are often many opportunities to choose kindness.”
“That could mean giving up your seat, making sure your coat or bag isn’t in someone’s space, offering directions, learning the name of the person who works at your station,” she continues, “or actually letting people know there’s a water puddle where they are about to sit.”
She’s speaking our language.
World Kindness Day: How to be nicer on the subway
After consulting with New Yorkers and drawing from our own experiences, we’ve compiled a handy list of tips. Remember them on World Kindness Day and every day thereafter.
The next time you want to scowl at a fellow MTA passenger or take up space like you’re a family of four, perhaps think twice (three times if you need).
Without further adieu, here are ten ways you can be nicer to people on the wonderful NYC subway.
Offer up your seat to people who need it
This is an easy one and shouldn’t need to be justified in any way. If there’s a person who is visibly disabled (they’re having trouble walking, or look as though they are physically ill) ask if they want your seat.
Same goes for pregnant people and those with small children. It doesn’t mean they’ll take you up on the offer, but it’s a kind thing to do.
Please (oh please) wait to eat smelly meals until you exit the subway car
Also, don’t leave food on the train. One Williamsburg resident says, “There are definitely times when I’ve gotten on [the subway] and someone’s dinner was just sitting under my seat.”
Certain foods are fine, but think before you turn the subway car into your kitchen table.
Let others off the train before you step on
This goes without saying, though it’s something worth repeating (a lot).
Allowing passengers to exit onto the platform before you barge right in, is common courtesy. Have patience, young grasshopper.
Don’t lean on the poles
There are many instances when you’re tired and you just want something, anything to support your bodyweight. Subway poles should not be the answer to your prayers.
The next time you wish to hog one, especially on a crowded train, refrain from doing so.
Have a silent concert, not one equivalent to MSG’s Jingle Ball
If you feel the need to drown out your surroundings with some music, please make sure it’s contained and not blaring through a speaker for the whole world to hear.
Personally, I love some good tunes during my commute, but they are for my ears only. Not everyone’s a fan of Today’s Top Hits on Spotify.
Remember your hygiene, folks
One Metro staffer recalls the times when cramped rush hour subway cars become saunas, smell and all.
“People had a full day at work and quarters are tight,” he says. “That doesn’t stop them from just keeping those arms up and letting the place stink up.”
If you’re tall, grab the top bar
I, for one, have experienced the struggle of standing on tiptoe to steady myself on the overhead bar. Let us shorter folk hold the bars within reach.
Think (really hard) about how much space you actually need
The main issues here are placing your bags on the seat next to you, keeping your overstuffed backpacks strapped tight like a Ninja Turtle (guilty, sometimes) and the dreaded “man spread.”
As one NYC native declares, “Close your goddamn legs.”
Always think ahead
I know it’s hard to predict how your commute will play out with construction and the ever-stubborn weather but, as one NYC commuter says, you should “leave earlier so you’re not in a rush, and then you don’t have to push people out of the way.”
Please and thank you.
Hunker down, dig deep and pull a Nike: Just do it.