by Richie Frieman
Regardless of where you work or what you do, you probably have some sort of commute to your workplace. Whether it's a 10 block walk, a 20 mile drive, or even an hour on the train—commuting to and from work is a part of life that we all have to deal with.
My commute is fairly easy—a 20 minute drive in the comfort of my car, coffee in hand, early in the morning to avoid major traffic, and for the most part only rare hiccups along the way. However, in my previous jobs, I’ve had to suffer through much longer commutes, especially on the train (subway and rail) and I’ve seen behavior that made me want to click my heels together and be back in my cozy, warm car. Turns out, I'm not alone.
Many Modern Manners Guy readers and listeners have emailed me about this exact issue. Glad to see I'm in good company. Well, let's just say "misery loves company" and I’m glad to have many other miserable people to join me. So without further ado, here are my top 3 tips on how to avoid improper commuter etiquette:
Improper Commuter Etiquette #1: The Seat Is Not Your Bed
Here's the deal, folks, I don't care if that seat is the single most comfortable piece of furniture your body touches all day, it is not yours. You don't own it. You're not even renting it. You're only temporarily using it, at most. So, that seat is not your bed, and certainly not a testing area for your bodily functions.
See also: Is This Seat Taken?
One reader recently emailed me that a fellow commuter took off his shirt to sleep more comfortably on the subway. Granted, he had a "work tank top" underneath, but this man allowed his entire upper body to lounge free as a bird all over the seat as if he was sleeping on his home sofa. Sure, you can catch up on some Z's while you’re commuting, but do not actually treat it as if you were home taking a nap. Leave your clothes on, people! And if you are next to a person who is publicly disrobing, and their flesh is intruding into your space, you are allowed to wake them. Kindly tap their arm and ask if they wouldn't mind putting their shirt back on. If they refuse, then get the heck out of dodge because lord knows what will come off next.
Improper Commuter Etiquette #2: The Train Is Not Your Bathroom
True story: A colleague just emailed me to report an actual sighting of a man clipping his toenails on the train. As honored as I was to be the first person on her mind, reading the email caused me to nearly lose my lunch. Clipping your toenails is one of the most disgusting things you could do in public. For starters, toenails FLY! Have you ever clipped your toenails and they all simply land in your hand softly? NO! At least one is bound to go AWOL and I don't want that anywhere near me.
Here's a memo that should be posted on all public transport locations:
ALL PERSONAL HYGIENE SHOULD BE TAKEN CARE OF BEFORE ENTERING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.
MODERN MANNERS GUY.
Improper Commuter Etiquette #3: This Train Is Not Your Office
One luxury of having a commute where you’re not at the wheel is that you can get some work done. And if you don't have work to do, at also a great way to relax and kill time. However, there are limits to this. For starters, it's one thing to type away on your laptop of tablet while commuting, it's another thing to hold a full-blown meeting in the middle of your commute.
One appalled Modern Manners Guy reader told me that a fellow commuter was not only using a rather large laptop that was inching into his area, but also blasting away on the phone louder than a trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Not only was this guy yelling, but he was using rather "colorful" language, too. He was totally rude and didn't care about anyone surrounding him (and it was a crowded train).
If and when this happens, always move. Even if you have to leave your seat and stand up for the rest of the ride, do it. This person is someone you do not want to be around and chances are my usual advice of "kindly confronting them" will not work. For this improper wacko, if yelling profanities into their phone during a busy commute is considered appropriate, chances are they will not be sympathetic to your polite request.
Have you been the victim of improper commuter etiquette? Sound off on the Modern Manners Guy Facebook or Twitter pages.
Pensive businessman from Shutterstock