I don’t know who made the commuting etiquette unspoken rules, but they absolutely exist. No one really needs to say “don’t be a douchebag and put your bag on the seat during rush hour,” or “don’t leave an empty seat on the inside with 5 people standing right next to you.” Common sense, right? You would think so! However, that shit happens all the time.
But it’s the more subtle etiquette rules that I really enjoy. Particularly the “do not look anyone in the eye, ever” rule. I accidentally did that this morning. But it was fully unintentional, I swear! I had been spaced out looking at some advertisement while waiting to get off the train. A woman was passed out (with her bag on the seat during rush hour, of course) directly underneath that sign. I move my eyes away from that stupid sign for a millisecond at the exact moment she wakes up and our eyes meet. She immediately has that look, that says “has that crazy person been staring at me while I sleep?!?!?”
I wasn’t! I swear! But you can’t frantically explain “oh no, I promise I wasn’t staring at you. It was a coincidence! Our eyes just met! Really, it was both of our faults for having appalling lack of timing!” Because then that makes me sound crazy in addition to looking like a total creeper, which wouldn’t help the situation at all. So what do I do? I do that quick neck stretch/pop thing I do every time this happens. “Oh I wasn’t looking at you, I was in mid-swing of a refreshing neck stretch, obviously.” She doesn’t look convinced, but that’s ok. I’m sure everyone on the train that witnessed it thinks I have a weird nervous tick instead of being a creepy train stalker.
Know what made me feel better? I got to witness someone else doing almost the same thing on the next train. Imagine, if you will, two people fully engrossed in their smartphones/paper, entering from opposite ends of the train. They end up a foot apart, still fully engrossed, not realizing that they are directly facing each other. Personal space no-no number one! I felt awkward just noticing it! Then the inevitable happened. She turns her paper over and he puts his smartphone away and they realized simultaneously “oh sweet Jesus, another person is right there! Their face is less than a foot away from my face!”
The silly bastards did the “I’m not looking at you intentionally dance”, scrambling for the smartphones “Oh, I was just checking Facebook,” or whatever. Poor, silly bastards. Hard to recover from that one.