Rule #6: Single File in This Town, People

I'm not proud of this, but I'm going to admit something, here:  I don't really understand football.  Look, there are rules in every sport that the casual observer doesn't understand, right?  I love baseball, but I can't comprehend the "infield fly rule" as hard as I try.  I enjoy hockey, but have trouble understanding "icing", and generally look for blood when the puck itself is too hard to see.  Soccer is exciting, but I don't know when to be excited, exactly, because the clock counts UP and I never have any idea when the game is due to end.

So, American football.  I used to watch with some guys back in college who were always talking about their "fantasy team" and "the draft" and how so-and-so did a nice "pick" and so on.  I would always nod and smile and generally try to drink quietly and quickly until their conversation became interesting. 

(When we lived in New Zealand, we were turned onto a different sport:  RUGBY.  It turns out rugby is just like American football, except there's no padding or helmets, the refs don't ever stop the clock, and the cheerleaders look like hobbits.  I miss New Zealand.)

There was one time in particular, after I was sufficiently inebriated enough to admit my total ignorance of the sport, that I asked a buddy of mine the following question:

"Why doesn't the guy with the ball just run where there aren't any guys?"

Love football all you want.  Talk about how the coaches are super brilliant and how such and such a quarterback can Hail Mary a tight end until all hell breaks loose.  But at the end of the day, I haven't ever really gotten a good answer to this question.  You have the ball, and your job is to run to the end of a field with it.  There are people all in a line trying to stop you.  Why not just run where those people AREN'T?  Too often I'll watch a football game and see some dumbass with the ball try to jump THROUGH a crowd of guys who are, frankly, a lot taller and bigger than he is, and all he had to do was run like 10 feet to the right where the huge gap was and he would have been home free.  One day someone will give me a good answer to that question in the hopes of getting me to like something about football BESIDES the food at SuperBowl parties.  At which point I will shush them because I'll be watching rugby.

Can you see where I'm going with this?  Can you see where talking about a line of large people blocking you from reaching your goal would have a DIRECT CORRELATION to NYC commuting?  Ever walked on the sidewalk?

Side-by-side is rarely, if ever, acceptable.  I  understand it, and sometimes (on the rare occasion I mosey) I am guilty of holding hands with Fiancé as we walk down the sidewalk.  But here's the kicker (ha!):  if someone is coming towards us, or I hear someone trying to pass us from behind, I will scoot behind Fiancé.  She thinks I'm being polite.  It is actually because there's a good view when I'm behind her.  Pffft.  Whatever, it's win/win.

I've seen some of these rubes dragging their wheeled suitcases that boast airline tickets from some podunk flyover state when they're walking abreast in front of me, and I think, "Walk faster," which is what I generally think when I'm walking behind anyone, but it's worse in this scenerio.  In this scenerio, the sentence ends with a semi-colon and is finished with, "Single file in this town, People."

I like tourism.  I like that it brings money to the city.  I like that tourists riding the subway brings money to the MTA so they don't "have" to raise the fares for at LEAST another four months.  But if I were a tourist in, let's say FRANCE.  I'd at least ATTEMPT to order some food in French, right?  That's part of the fun of travelling!  Not just to SEE the Eiffel Tower, but also to live like the French... if even briefly.

Well, if that's the case, welcome to New York.  Feel free to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  Times Square has a TON of space for you.  While you're here, however, we have a few rules for you to follow, if you don't mind.  First and foremost is this:  It's single file in this town, People.



Lauren of Astoria

My friend Lauren wrote an open letter to the MTA that I wish I had written.  Or at least signed.  But alas, I'm not nearly the writer she is.  Plus, we're all in this together, right?  This sweaty, smelly, humid subway car of life...


Dear MTA,

I am writing to tell you that you are in critical need of an ass kicking.

It has consistently been taking me about 30 minutes longer to get anywhere than it should. This is likely attributed to your colossal service cuts that eliminated scores of trains and the employees who operate them. This coincided with yet another rate hike. You charge me more, MTA, and you deliver me less.

You must not have been paying attention in Basic Business 101. You were flirting with the class burnout, weren’t you, MTA? Twirling your hair when you should’ve taken notes? You skipped school and raced out to the bleachers, just to find him with his hand up someone else’s shirt. It’s ok, MTA. It’s happened to us all.

But let me explain how it’s supposed to work. You promise to provide BETTER service and customers are incentivized to agree to a price increase. You get more money and give more service. Are we clear?

In the interest of better service, I’d like to make some suggestions.
I recommend that rather than scaling back on the people who drive the trains, perhaps you could curtail the people who ride them. For example, consider having a “bouncer” at each station, prohibiting the following groups from entering:
  • Old businessmen who tell me to smile
  • People over 6 feet tall
  • Tourists
  • Mariachi bands
  • Children
  • Passengers wearing any of the following:
    • Bedazzled shirts 
    • Backpacks
    • Cubic zirconia earrings 
    • Sunglasses 
    • SARS masks 
    • Clothes from the previous day 

This should prove to be a much more pleasant experience for Me, and surely some others. In fact, don’t limit yourself! You needn’t stop at people. There’s so much more to get rid of! A few candidates could be stairs, boomboxes blasting Sugarhill Gang, and instances in which I witness another human defecating inside a train car.
I hope you’ve found this useful, MTA. I’d tell you in person but it’d take me too long to get to your headquarters, 10 blocks away.
The WB


Missed Connection

My actual post on Craigslist this morning:

new york craigslist > queens > personals > missed connections

Brunette with blue bag on N train this morning - m4w - 32 (N train into Manhattan)

Date: 2011-05-27, 8:48AM EDT

You: The brunette on the N train this morning with a blue bag and jeans. You were reading "Getting the Love You Want" and you got on at Astoria Blvd. or 30th Ave. You sat next to me on the "loveseat"-style bench at the end of the car.

Me: The blond guy with sunglasses and a white button down shirt, doing a SuDoKu.

You know those guys who sit in the subway car and spread their knees as far apart as possible to air out their junk? Well, I'm not one of those guys. I was sitting against the rail with my feet on the floor. YOU, on the other hand, apparently ARE one of those guys, or the female equivalent. Why did you have to sit so close to me? There was SIX INCHES on your right, between you and the wall. Why didn't you move over? Why were you on top of me, breathing all heavy through your nose as if you'd just gotten back from an intense workout? I don't need that in the morning. I don't need that at ANY time.

At first, I thought maybe you were into me but didn't know how to "make your move". I figured since you were reading "Getting the Love You Want", you were trying to be more assertive. Then I realized, nope, you're just an idiot. A heavy breathing idiot with no regard for personal space. What made me change my mind was you reaching ACROSS me to grab the pole before the train stopped, and then KEEPING your bony-ass arm in my face after I tried to rise to exit the train.

After all this, however, I've decided to help you. I'm going to save you the trouble of finishing your book. I can tell you "how to get the love you want" right here on the Internet. I don't OWE you this, but it's Friday, and I'm feeling benevolent. You're welcome.

Getting the Love You Want:
Don't sit down too close to someone on the subway and breathe on them at 7 o'clock in the morning. Further, don't reach across them and stick your bony, hairy elbow in their face until you're actually ready to stand and exit the train. Men will notice this, and totally date you and ask you to have little babies with them. And then you can move to Long Island and you'll never have to ride the N train ever again.

  • Location: N train into Manhattan
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
PostingID: 2405430335


Celebrity Sighting

This weekend, on the N train, Fiancé and I saw the man pictured above.  Fiancé did not want me to go up and say hello to him for two reasons: 

1) In New York City, it's is not what's done with celebrities.  In New York City, you IGNORE celebrities so they feel they have a safe haven here in the city - so they don't have to worry about paparazzi or autograph-seekers.  Apparently, in New York City, the level of politeness so great it manifests itself in apathy is the least we can do.  I'm sorry, but I kind of disagree with this.  No one ELSE in New York considers it a safe haven or feels comfortable... why should celebrities?  Just because what makes them uncomfortable differs from what make ME uncomfortable doesn't mean they should have it easy.  But I digress. 

2) If you recognize the picture above, you understand her hesitation.  On his best-known show, nothing good ever happened when he was around.  In fact, you could pretty much bank on BAD shit happening the minute he was on screen.

So, I begged and pleaded to be able to go up to the guy and tell him I admired his work, and she firmly put her foot down and told me that under no circumstance would I be doing any such thing.  She told me it was because that isn't how we New Yorkers treat our famous people, but I think she was actually scared that, if we acknowledged his existance in our little world, the subway would let us off in 1967 and we'd never be able to get back.

Two stops before ours, the actor departed the train with his companion.  Fiancé breathed a sigh of relief... until he turned to walk past us, then she got all tense again.

I managed to catch his eye and smile.  I waved at him and, in this wave, said "Hey Man, you do really good work.  My fiancé and I both really appreciated the scares and tension you gave us on the roller-coaster ride that was your show, and we consider you one of the great TV villains of all time.  I don't want an autograph or anything, and I'm not an actor; I just want you to know that you and your castmates gave us hours of conversation during the last decade, hours of tears, hours of laughter, and I wanted to say thanks."

To my surprise, he smiled back and nodded.  This nod said, to me, "Hey Bro, thanks for the kind words an encouragement!  I did my best on that show and am looking forward to whatever's next for me.  Thank YOU for following my progress and supporting us for so many years, and also for allowing me to ride the subway in peace this afternoon."

To Fiancé, his nod probably came across more like, "I'm going to eat your firstborn after transporting you to a desert in Tunisia and getting you hooked on heroin."

p.s.  To those of you who don't know who he his, I highly recommend you lock yourself away for a week and catch up.


Bitter Friends

Well, it's been almost a month since the epic CYOA post, and the ideas for new things to bitch about ("about which to bitch"?  I know I shouldn't end a sentence with "about", but I'm not exactly comfortable rhyming, either...) are beginning to come back to me.

Last night, I was standing on the sidewalk with two friends, Clutch and Michelle, and they were mentioning funny subway experiences they've had.  Michelle, at one point, used the phrase, "I love crotch-watching on the subway", which is an amazing sentence and a large part of how I knew I'd be posting something today.  The sentence itself stemmed from a story I have since asked her to email me for two reasons; 1. She could tell it better than I ever could, and 2. I feel a little dirty thinking about it.  I promise to post it as soon as she passes it my way.

Before they knew about this blog in the first place, Clutch goes, "You know what?  Someone should write down all the rules of commuting and post them somewhere.  Because, in New York, let me tell you, you can talk slow and you can read slow, but you are NOT allowed to-".

This is where I cut him off, mostly for dramatic effect:  "Walk slow?" I offered.

"Yes!" he replied.

So, like a magician pulling away the curtain during the big reveal, I said to Clutch, "Dude - the name of my blog is 'I Walk Faster Than You'!"  At which point we proceeded to high-five in an effort to appear more Caucasian than we already did.  I'd imagine it worked.

So, at some point soon, I will be posting Rule #6, for which Clutch gave me the idea by going off on a rampage about tourists.  Michelle, for her part, studied her toes until it was time for her to share her crotch-watching story.  She did, however, provide me with an excellent site: "People of Public Transit", which I have linked to on this blog's sidebar.  It is worth checking out for significant amounts of LOLs.

Michelle also sent me this via Facebook:

As you can see from my last post, a blogger on The Huffington Post named Paul LaRosa wrote an article about subway etiquette in NYC that addresses many of the topics on IWFTY.  He even answered my comment telling him I promised to always raise my umbrella over his head as I walk past him should we ever encounter each other on a rainy day.  It's the least I can do for such a kindred spirit... even one from Brooklyn.

Lastly, it should be noted that I did write a post regarding the death of Osama bin Laden, I just didn't publish it.  It had a bitchin' picture of Captain America standing in front of the twin towers that Google Image Search was kind enough to provide for me, and it had fireworks and noisemakers and a waterslide and a pizza party and strippers and cake.  Fiancé listened to this epic description and advised against me publishing it on the grounds that this blog is known (ha!) for being snarky and sarcastic - why would I get all celebratory and patriotic now?  It's is a valid point, so I decided to curb the post and keep it to myself.  Personally, I think she just didn't want to share any of the fireworks/noisemakers/pizza/cake/strippers with any of you

For the record, the last sentence of the bin Laden post was something about his last commute involving being thrown from a helicopter into the ocean.


Subway Etiquette, or, "What's Wrong With Other People?"

It's nice to know others feel the same way. Mr. LaRosa, I vow to always raise my umbrella for you on the sidewalk, Good Sir.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost


Queens Irish (or: "Only in New York")

NYC Commuter/Comedienne Erin "Irish" Conroy posted this over at comedianerinconroy.blogspot.com and I HAD to reprint it here.

This means that both blog posts this week were actually written by other bloggers.  Which is fine by me for three reasons: 1.  I was sick the last week, which made me a more forgiving commuter but a less frequent blogger.  The cold medicine also pointed me towards such regrettable decisions as 2. I joined Facebook this week.  So I have a lot of imaginary friends now.  Which is nice.  And 3. Quit complaining!  The Choose your Own Adventure Post was fucking EPIC!  Jesus. 



Only In New York!

I hate that phrase with a passion. Dummies in NYC use it as a kind of weird declaration whenever something slightly cool or slightly terrible happens; as if to convince themselves that the trade-off for living in one of the biggest and therefore toughest cities in the world is the promise of odd happenings in their daily life. Happenings that their relatives in Kansas could never understand, right? LOLz!

For example, one time last summer I was standing waiting for the bus. (Like a BOSS) I happened to be wearing a new dress that I had bought and really liked, and was feeling pretty great. As my bus began to approach, I suddenly realized that directly in front of the bus stop there was a half-full Gatorade bottle lying in the street. The wheels in my distracted brain began to turn, and I started to do the math - could that bus be pulling up directly in line with the Gatorade bottle? And if so, does that mean that I'm lined up perfectly with the -

My brain did not figure this all out fast enough, and the next thing I know, the bus most certainly did roll right on top of the Gatorade bottle. The pressure of the bus exploded the top off the bottle and expelled the entire contents at such a high and fast volume that I don't even think Mr. Wizard would have believed it. ("You LYIN', bitch!", Mr. Wizard would have said.) But I believed it, because every last drop of that Gatorade bottle was emptied directly onto me and my new dress. I stood there absolutely speechless and in shock, as what seemed like the entire population of Manhattan passed by with little smirks on their faces. Only one woman stopped, an elderly well-dressed woman with pearls around her neck. She stopped, looked me up and down with her hands on her hips, and then loudly proclaimed "ONLY IN NEW YORK!!!!!". Then she gave me a wink and carried on her merry way. I wanted to run after her and tackle her and smear my Gatorade soaked hands all over her surgically-enhanced face. Because no, Old Lady - that couldn't have happened "only in New York". A bottle could have been rolled over anywhere in the United States - nay! The WORLD. Unfortunate occurrences aren't exclusive to this city, so stop trying to act like New York is the center of the universe. I hope she got mugged on the way home. Not hurt or anything - but I hope someone stole her pearls.

This phrase popped up again yesterday morning during my commute. I was on the bus in, and all of a sudden a TORRENTIAL downpour started out of nowhere. Without any kind of warning, the bus driver got on the PA system and started singing to everyone. Some original ditty about how the rain doesn't bother him, because tomorrow is Friday, and that's when he sees his girl. It was harmless - if not charming. But then some big galoot turns around to address the whole bus with, "Only in New York, am I right?!?!", and that phrase immediately soured my mood. The guy next to me wasn't impressed with any of it either, because he pulls out his phone to call his wife:

"Hi, it's me. Yeah. Just thought you should know the bus driver is singing to us. No - SINGING. Yeah. And then I got an 'Only in New York'. Yeah. Because you should have DRIVEN ME LIKE I ASKED, that's why I'm telling you."

Haha! Comments like that are only heard ANYWHERE. Anywhere that passive-aggressive marriages are still alive and well.


Brooklyn Sean

I don't have a full post worth of material for today, so here are two small things:

1.  A good way to walk slower and be okay with the world around you and serene in your morning NYC commute is to get very sick.  I've been so doped up on DayQuil the last two weeks that even the Umbrella People haven't bothered me... much.

2.  Sean's got a new post, and it would fit nicely at I Walk Faster Than You.  I've been bugging him to write a guest post for this blog, much the way Allie and Kevin did, but for now we'll have to settle for a link to his site.  Enjoy!

His new post is here.


Choose Your Own Adventure

The Commute

“It looks like it’s gonna rain,” you say out loud to your empty apartment.  You had paused at the window to check out the rapidly darkening sky as you get ready for work.  There are many things about living in New York City you like; Sunday morning foot traffic in Manhattan, the silence of a middle-of-the-night snowfall, and a cool iced tea on a shady park bench are among your favorites.  Rainstorms, on the other hand, are not.  “Ugh,” you sigh as you continue to prepare yourself for another long day.

It is your plan to go visit your friend Sean in the hospital after work.  Sean has been your friend for many years, and has always been there for you when you needed him.  Recently, citing “keeping it green” and “being all healthy and stuff”, Sean has decided to start biking to work from his apartment in Brooklyn.  When he first moved to Brooklyn a year ago, you remember having made fun of him quite a bit, calling him a “hipster” and telling him he should grow a beard and wear skinny jeans.  You’re proud to know him, though, and he takes the light ribbing well.  Sadly, it was about a week ago that Sean was biking to his job and collided with another bicyclist.  He was seriously injured in the accident.  He’s recovering well enough now, however, that he’ll grin when you bring him a package of Double Stuf Oreos™ and hear you when you call him a dumbass for biking to work in the first place.

You place the sandwich cookies in your bag and exit your apartment, making sure to lock the deadbolt behind you.  You’re already halfway to the subway station when you hear the distant rumble of a far-off thunderstorm.  You’re another fifteen feet past that when you slap yourself in the forehead because, in grabbing the Oreos, you neglected to also grab your umbrella.  You can, in fact, still see it in your mind’s eye, hanging off the door knob of your apartment’s only closet.

You hesitate briefly, considering going back for it, but the clock on your cell phone’s display reminds you that you need to be at work sooner than later.  There are eight blocks between your residence and the nearest subway station, so doubling back four of them at the risk of being late for work is simply not an option.  You decide to push on, hoping against hope that the rain holds out until you’re safely underground.  “Besides,” you say aloud, “I’ve got a hoodie on.”  Indeed, you do.

The crossing guard at the next street is not smiling today.  Normally, she’s there about this time of day waving and stopping cars from running over the schoolchildren that sporadically dart into the middle of the road on their way to school.  Today, however, she’s looking a bit concerned as she speaks with another pedestrian who stopped to speak with her.  As you get closer, only about two blocks from the subway, she looks up and makes eye contact with you.  “Train’s delayed, today, Dear,” she says, “Police activity on the tracks.”  You happen to know of a bus stop about ten blocks away that, were a bus to come, would at least get you on the island of Manhattan.  From there, it would be another subway ride (on a different line) to get to work.  Whether you deal with the delay on your regular subway line, or you decide to speedwalk to the bus stop, you begin to realize there isn’t much chance of being on time anymore.  It is at this point that the first raindrops hit you, and you further begin to realize there isn’t much chance of being dry much longer, either.

If you carry on and brave the delayed subway, click here.
If you decide to head down the street to the bus stop as fast as you can, click here.


Rule #5: Don't Turn a Blind Corner

Fiancé and I saw something funny the other day.  It was one of those moments you wish were in slow motion so it would never end.  We were walking down the street, and we saw two people walking towards the corner of a building from opposite directions at the same time.  The one walking parallel to us was a young guy who was busy texting.  The person walking around the corner from him was an old woman who was busy trying to stay upright, I think.

We literally stopped in our tracks to watch what was sure to be a head-on collision.  We also wanted to see who would step aside to let the other pass.  This was one of those rare scenarios where you could actually witness the moments before the unexpected.  We decided to watch, of course.

Sadly, the end of the story is anticlimactic.  We stood across the street as the texting lad and the old woman met face to face at the corner of the building, and unfortunately violence did not ensue.  I'm not sure what we were hoping would happen, but I think we both honestly believed it would be epic; like Godzilla or the idea of dividing by zero.  As it turns out, they stopped, regarded each other, and he let her pass while he continued to text.

I convey this story not to put you to sleep (though I'm sure I've done an admirable job of that), but to bring up a very important loophole in Rule #1.  Both of the people in the example above were, in fact, Hugging the Rail.  Had I been walking behind either the kid or the older woman in the same direction they were, I would have been pleased as punch that there was plenty of room to pass.  She being elderly, and he texting, I'm sure I walk faster than them both, and would have been grateful they were so self aware as to allow that kind of space next to them.

However, they bumped into each other.  If I had been hurtling near the corner and someone else had been hurtling towards the same corner, we could have broken each other's noses, or worse, someone could have seen us break each other's noses.

And so, it is here now, in this very post, that I tell you the secret of making sure this doesn't happen.  It's something you can do while abiding Rule #1, and it's a flawless way to make sure you don't literally run into anyone on a blind corner.  The only requirement is as much self awareness as the kid and the woman in the example above exhibited.

SOLUTION:  Flick your wrist.  Of course, you should have something in your hand at the time, otherwise it's less effective and more spasmodic.  As you approach said corner, if you are appropriately hugging the rail (walking closely to the side of the building), make sure your hand passes the corner before the rest of you.  I frequently do this while holding a newspaper or kenken puzzle, but anything (cell phone, ipod, fake dance move) works well for this purpose.  If you just flick your wrist and put your hand out in front of you as you approach a blind corner, the person coming around the bend will stop prior to calamity.  That fraction of a second could mean the difference between an awkward moment between you and a stranger and an awkward moment between you and a stranger that someone and his fiancé  across the street saw.

Extra points for making it look like a normal part of your gait and not letting it bother you that 99.9% of the time there's no one around the corner at all.

You're welcome.


Rule #4: Suck it up

One thing I love about children is the universal reactions to things.  Almost 100% of the time, you can watch their eyes light up if there's a kitten nearby.  You can also see the complete shutdown when they're tired.  Kids are great, aren't they?  Totally predictable in many ways, but will always surprise you.  (I'm not going to link that line to http://www.mta.info/ because that's not the topic of this post.  Feel free to do so on your own.) 

So, if a kid on the school bus passes gas, what do you think you're going to see?  Most kids will laugh and scream and wrinkle their noses, and a few will put their hands over their mouth/nose.  But there will always, always be one or two that pull the front of their shirt up to cover their nose like a burqa, as if Mom had last washed it with some anti-stink detergent that also happend to smell like grape bubblegum.

Oftentimes, as well, you'll see children put their fingers in their ears due to a loud noise, like a car horn or loud music.  These are universal, and a totally acceptable reactions to the aforementioned scenerios...

...if you're 6.

Once you're older, and have been to a couple of concerts, fireworks displays and professional sporting events, you begin to outgrow that behaviour.  Instead of putting your fingers in your ears to keep away a loud noise, you turn your iPod UP.  Rather than pull your shirt over your face, you wait out the smell, or, in very bad cases, remove yourself from the location entirely.

New York City is full of interesting, and sometimes overwhelming scents and sounds.  But part of being a New Yorker is that we have to deal with some discomfort in order to continue surviving in this town.  So you make do, and you add little things here and there to make the discomfort more bearable.  In extreme cases, one will even find onesself outrunning discomfort by trying to control the behaviours of others - even going as far as writing a blog that outlines the rules of commuting or some such nonsense.

But this post isn't for the kids who smell something bad and pull the front of their shirt up, and it's not for the kids who put fingers in their ears when real life get's too loud.  It's for the adults that do.

For every blog post, every gripe, every "rule" I make up about my fellow New Yorkers not doing what I would, in an ideal world, like them to do, there are about five or ten examples I don't mention.  This is because it's simply a part of living in New York - you put up with things.  You suck it up.  The trade-off for living in such a crowded, noisy, dirty, inarticulate, insensitive, sprawling, pushy, intense, perverse and depraved city is that you can take advantage of the fact that it's expensive, too.

But I suck it up.  I keep walking, one foot in front of the other, one day at a time.  Sometimes a rat will cross my path.  Shiver, but cope.  Keep on walking.  Sometimes there will be a roach in the restaurant.  Notify your server, maybe never eat there again, keep on living. 

We bear the discomfort with armor that only  New Yorker has, knowing that, by doing so, we can safely say, "We're New Yorkers" when we're next in the midwest buying cigarettes for $3 a pack.

But the adults who cover their ears when the subway pulls in?  The ones who cover their noses with the front of their shirts when Mystery Smell invades the train?  They are not New Yorkers.  Regardless of their actual residence, they are tourists, and the presence of such weakness is far worse than a Chinese dinner being consumed on a subway car or a siren passing by.


Staten Island Allie

The Staten Island Ferry - It's free and everyone gets a ride!

The following email was written to me by one of this blog's readers, and I had to share.  Thanks for reading, Allie!

(As for me, I've only been on the Staten Island Ferry once.  I was alone, and it was coming back from a birthday party that was held as far away from the homes of the majority of the guests as possible.  My hunch is it was the hostess' way of trying to trap me there and make it my home borough.  I managed to escape via a tiny little train that was a lot like the NYC subway (without being physically connected to NYC, apparently Staten Island is technically part of NYC).  Said train took me to said ferry.  Said ferry took me past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty to Battery Park.  From there I took the subway back to the most normal place I'd been all day: Queens.  God, help me.)



From:  Allie J.
To:  Jordan Knol
Date:  Tue, Apr 5, 2011 at 3:59 PM
Subject:  Saturday

I was on my way home from the bar on Saturday night.  I caught the 4:30am ferry to Staten Island (which was packed of course - children, weirdos, loud, drunk Staten Island Guidos/Guidettes). 

As I was walking to a seat with my group of friends, I noticed an old friend/coworker from a few years ago.  She wasn't alone though, she was sitting next to this guy - very cozy with him, maybe even holding hands (I wasn't 100% on this at the time because it was 4:30am after a night at the bar...) - who I quickly realized was someone other than her husband (at the time I forgot she was married and just thought to myself 'oh her and her boyfriend must have broken up'). 

So I proceed to say hello and act all happy to see her and we start catching up and she introduces the guy next to her as her friend (no big deal)... After about 4 minutes, you can cut the tension with a butter knife.  I, however, lacked the ability to stop talking since I was slightly intoxicated and continued to talk to her the entire 25 minute ferry ride from NYC to Staten Island - Awkward Turtle

The ferry docks and we say our goodbyes and when we get out of earshot, I tell my boyfriend what just happened and how awkward this whole situation was. I decide to give her the benefit of the doubt - maybe it wasn't as bad as it seemed and she just felt like it could look bad if taken out of context.  Ten minutes later I completely forget about this whole ordeal anyway. 

Well, at about 4:00pm the next day, my memory is refreshed with a Facebook message from her saying that it was an old friend from way back when, and her husband didn't know she was out with him... oh, and:

"Don't say anything to anyone, please."


Forever Alone

"How is it possible," you ask, "that this blogger can bitch and whine as much as he does about driving etiquette, rules for bicyclists and subway riders, and still jaywalk?  Should he also be calling out himself, for breaking the rules of the road, for flagrantly ignoring the safety of himself and others?  How can he possibly justify this critical judgement of others and still blatantly commute in a way that is frowned upon (and for good reason)??"

Because it's my blog.  And the internet is a playground.

Yesterday, I was happily crossing Ditmars Blvd. mid-block.  I didn't have headphones on, and I looked both ways multiple times before crossing.  I recognize the hypocrisy of this, considering I am so judgemental of other people obeying the rules set out for them, and I break mine.  I suppose one difference is that if a car or a bike doesn't stop at the red light designed for them, and they barrel into someone due to their own carelessness, someone could be seriously hurt.  If *I* carelessly cross against the signal, and barrel into someone, the only repercussion *I* risk is embarrassing myself and mildly disappointing someone else.  And that's pretty much the story of my life, so I think I'll manage.

But I digress...

So I was crossing Ditmars yesterday, and a car turned onto the Boulevard towards me.  Once it righted itself from the turn, the guy gunned it, presumably to make it through the next light (or, perhaps to convey to me, "My car zooms fast!!").  I thought to myself, as I always do when this happens, "Jeez, where's the fire, Man?"

So I continued my saunter (I don't saunter.  My version of sauntering is still faster than the normal walk.) down the Boulevard.  A crosswalk or two later, I was halfway across the street when someone else turned onto the street I was crossing, apparently deciding there was enough room for their car to fit in between the parked car on the right and the random pedestrian in the middle of the street.

Whatever.  She, just like the guy before, gunned the engine after righting herself from the turn, and hurried her little driving self towards 21st Ave.

And I thought to myself:  How funny would it be if both drivers were in a rush to get to the same place?  What if they were racing each other, or going to a concert with a very specific start time?  My theory then became that they were going to an awesome party.  Someone, somewhere, was throwing a party for all the drivers in Astoria.  Clearly someone with a very long driveway or a parking lot.  They invited all of the people who drive cars, and had free appetizers and an open bar until 7pm.  As it turns out, I was walking at about 6:45, so, with this fantasy in mind, I could totally understand why someone would rush to take advantage of the last few free drinks before the bar starts charging.

As I strolled (I don't stroll.  My version of strolling is still faster than the normal walk.), I took this even further.  What if they, the two drivers who had each gone out of their way TO get too close to me, this man and this woman, were destined to meet?  What if, by showing up at this party on time, near sunset, with alcohol and pigs-in-a-blanket a'plenty, these two were to look at each other from across the room and hold the gaze just long enough to smile slyly?  What if, by the end of the evening, they ended up sitting in one or the other's car, talking about past loves, fate and the wealth of compassion?  What if, after that night, they end up spending the rest of their lives together, having fallen so deeply in love, that life moves more slowly, more leisurely, and the need to press down hard on the gas pedal is eliminated?

The thought made me smile.  But then it made me sad.  I began to realize that I would never be invited to that kind of party.  And I realized why:  because I'm a snarky, hypocritical jaywalking blogger who would ultimately need to bum a ride off of somebody, anyway.


Bout of the Century


     Ladies and Gentlemen!  Boys and Girls!  Children of all ages!  This is the fight you've ALL been waiting for!  Welcome to the BOUT OF THE CENTURY!

Our first contender, weighing in at 130 lbs without his skinny jeans and beard, bicycle advocate and sponsored by Gothamist, GRANOLA McHIPSTERSEN!!

And his opponent, weighing in at 165 lbs, and that's just his head, economist and Jaguar driver, sponsored by The New Yorker, JOHN CASSIDY!!


Round 1:

Holy cow, Ladies and Gentlemen!  Cassidy has wasted NO time getting in a quick right hand jab to the face of McHipstersen.  He seems to be saying something about bike lanes as he continues to circle and dodge.  Cassidy is REALLY pumped for this fight!  He's trash-talking McHipstersen so loudly, I wonder if we can't turn up the ring-mic to have a listen to what he's saying as he intimidates his opponent:
"...a constituency that pursues its agenda with about as much modesty and humor as the Jacobins pursued theirs, and which has found its heroine in transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, I say hats off to Iris Weinshall, the former transportation commissioner, who, together with some like-minded citizens, has filed a lawsuit..."
Folks, this is an epic battle between two supremely good competitors.  Cassidy looks like he might get in another couple of punches just before the bell-- And there they are!  A quick one two in the final seconds of this round have left McHipstersen reeling in a daze as they retire to their respective corners!


Round 2:

Ladies and Gentlemen, we sure hope McHipstersen received some good guidance during that round break, because he really looked weakened out there in Round 1.  Our fighters are meeting in the center of the ring, sizing each other up for what is sure to be a penalizing Round 2.  McHipstersen is riled up, Folks!  He's shouting in the face of Cassidy!  Let's see if we can't get a listen:
"...let's take his allegation of humorlessness at face value and point out that if cyclists are sometimes overly serious, it's because the consequences of bicycling in NYC can be so deadly.  You may be yucking it up in his bloody Jaguar listening to Larry the Cable Guy..."
Wow!  You just don't hear that kind of talk during such a high-profile fight!  To think these two used to co-exist on the same planet! Now look at them!  McHipstersen is really going at Cassidy with a series of rights and lefts to the ribcage. 

From the sound of this crowd, McHipstersen has a lot of fans here in New York he does NOT want to let down!  Many of these people are holding up signs, proving their solid allegiance to McHipstersen.  We'll see if we can't get some closeups of some of these comments written by McHipstersen fans during the round break.

(End of Round 2)

Folks, we have just a minute here to show those of you in our television audience what some of McHipstersen's loyal fanbase has been saying:
"People in New York City don't need cars, jack ass."

"I prefer 'Jagoff' Cassidy."

"The average American car size is directly related to average American ass width."

Round 3:

Folks, thanks for joining us for this historic, winner-take-all  matchup between two of the country's loudest voices.  Round 3 has begun, and we're sure it's going to be a doozy!

Cassidy and McHipstersen have advanced to the center of the ring, and both combatants look angry enough to eat their opponent for breakfast!  This fight has become about so much more than just bikes vs. cars, my friends!  It's about young vs. old, upstarts vs. the Establishment, e-media vs. print!  As both men stare each other down and continue to try to psych each other out with their comments, it looks like this may come to a head very, very soon!

Wait a minute!  What's that?  Folks, someone, perhaps a fan, has just gotten past ringside security and has jumped INTO the ring!  It looks like-- Is that-- Yes, folks, it appears he is carrying a baseball bat!  This crazed fan appears to be wearing a t-shirt that says, "Walk/Don't Walk" on one the front, and an NYC subway map on the back.  Wow!  This "Walker" has just pummeled John Cassidy into a fetal position with his bat!  He appears to be screaming about the Manhattan Elite and how Cassidy shouldn't be referring to cars as "contraptions" because this is no longer the 19th century. 

Where is security?  Why haven't they put an end to this bloodbath?  Cassidy is lying motionless on the mat, Ladies and Gents, and "The Walker" seems to have turned his attention to Granola McHipstersen.  McHipstersen looks up from rolling his own cigarette just in time to take a bat to the jaw!  He's out cold!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I don't know when such a respectable sport such as boxing became so debased as to allow armed pedestrians into the ring in the middle of a fight, but this is insane!  Why is no one stopping him?  The crowd is stunned, Folks.  All action has come to a complete stop as- wait- could it be?  Yes!  Folks, the referee has started counting!  He's counting down on both Cassidy AND McHipstersen!  The crowd has started counting along with him!



Folks, the fight is over!  What started as an epic battle of bikes vs. cars has become reminiscent of a professional wrestling match!  The crowd is going wild!  The sheer decibel level here in the arena is really difficult to describe.  They have all started chanting in unison, "Wal-Ker!  Wal-Ker!  Wal-Ker!" 

Folks, the ref has raised both hands of "The Walker" in triumph!  He is strutting around the ring, sometimes even stepping ON Cassidy and McHipstersen.  The referee seems to have taken OFF his striped shirt and put on an MTA jacket!  In response, the crowd seems to be celebrating WITH the ref, chanting, "Sub-way!  Sub-Way!  Sub-Way!"

I don't think I've ever seen anything like this.  It appears as though "The Walker" has something to say to his two impromptu opponents.  Folks, he's reaching for the announcer's mic!  Let's hear what he has to say:

"You're both assholes.  Cassidy, you schmuck, use your turning signals and turn on your lights in the rain.  McHipstersen, you want bikers to have the same rights as cars?  Start obeying their rules; stop at red lights and stop signs, stay off the sidewalks, and signal when you're about to turn.  You guys make me sick.  What exactly were you fighting for tonight?  Huh?  Who's the biggest douche?  Well I have an answer: it's a tie.  And I own you both.  Dipshits." 



It didn't take me long to blow up something in the kitchen after my fiancé left for California for the weekend.  Really.  Like, 10 minutes?  Maybe?

I woke up at 4:30am to see her off to the airport.  After she left, I figured I'd make something in the oven and go to bed after it was cooked so it would be nice and cool upon waking.

The instructions were simple: 425° for 15 minutes, 325° for 45 minutes and then 10-minute increments if it's still not baked all the way through.  So I used the timer on the microwave to cook the first 15 minutes, used the timer on the microwave to cook for the next 45, and then accidentally used the "Cook" feature of the microwave for an additional 10.

The microwave did not like this.  Not one bit.

For awhile there, about 7 minutes, it was a real sport.  It woefully cooked nothing but it's own insides, whirring along in such a manner so as not to arouse any suspicion from me in the other room.  But then, I guess it had decided it had enough of this tomfoolery.  "Screw this guy!  I've been heating up delicious food for him day in and day out for a number of years, and THIS is how he decides to repay me?  By nuking my own GUTS?!  Well.  Not one more second.  I'm going on STRIKE!"

So when I realized I hadn't heard the beep for some time, I went in and noticed it had refused to work.  No clock, no light, nothing.  At first, I was thought I'd blown a fuse, but eveything else plugged into that power strip worked fine.

So that's the setting of my adventure:

Can you buy a microwave at RadioShack?  No.  CVS?  No.  Rite-Aid?  Not even a little.  While it's not something you often think about, there aren't THAT many places one CAN buy a new microwave.  I learned this brutal truth at about 6:30am that morning.

Luckily, Google came through for me and reminded me that, if I took a short bus trip down Steinway, I could stop at P.C. Richards and get one.  This is what I decided to do.  I hadn't wanted to leave the house the entire weekend, but I had plans to make an entire crockpot full of 3-Meat Chili to last me through the fiancé-less weekend, and thawing two of the three meats rendered a microwave a necessity.

Not being too accustomed to the NYC bus system, I checked the schedule of the Q101 that runs down Steinway.  The following is a minute-by-minute play-by-play of what happened after I put on some jeans and a shirt (and watched WALL-E to kill time before P.C. Richards opened):

Bus scheduled to come at approx. 10:07am.  I leave the apartment at 10am sharp.

Bus arrives on the corner of Steinway and 23rd Ave right on time.

I exit in front of P.C. Richards at 10:17am.

I pick out a slightly different microwave than the one we've been using for years, and let the salesman talk to me about the problems with the media and how ATMs from different banks charge you a fee if you're not a member of that particular bank.  I think he may have been mildly retarded.

Either the 10:18 was late, or the 10:48 early, because I walked out of the store with a 30-lb microwave in my hands and sprinted a half-block to catch the bus that was coming.

(On the bus ride back, there was an automated voice on the system that wasn't there on the earlier trip.  It advised, "Please use the rear door to exit."  There was a guy who got off earlier than me who had yelled, "Back door!" at his stop, so I assumed the rear door did not automatically open, but one had to request it.  Maybe to save heat?  I don't know.  When I got to my stop, I heeded the advice of robot-lady on the loud speaker and stood by the back door.  Which didn't open.  So I did what the guy before me did.  "Back door!" I yelled.  The driver gor snarky and was like, "You have to push it!"  To which I replied, "I have a big box!  A little help, Bro?"  He opened the door and was yelling something at me as I exited.  I assume he thought when I yelled "Back Door" he thought I was claiming dibs on his own personal *ahem!* 'rear exit', and was less-than-enthusiastic about the possibility.  I didn't mind, though, because...)

At 10:45 I was home and had a new microwave hooked up.

45 minutes for the entire trek.  This is an EPIC win. 

So while I don't yet have any pointers outlined for the MTA bus system, I would like to thank them for being accurate enough that I could make a delicious batch of 3-Meat Chili for the weekend and therefore my fiancé was able to focus her disgust on that as opposed to the daunting task of having to learn a slightly-different microwave.


Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down

Every day, I exit the downtown 6 Train on the North end for work.  Technically, it's the 51st Street station for the E, M and 6, but the E and M Trains are on the lower level.  Leaving on the North end, the rear of the train, I am able to exit on 53rd and walk directly into my office building.  To do so, however, I have to navigate down a very narrow set of stairs with a bunch of other commuters.  This path was an inspiration for this blog, as coming into work every day is not unlike a combat zone.  The stairs I descend run alongside an escalator going UP, which some enterprising people decide to ignore so they can barrel up the steps like a tank and run head on into a steady stream of commuters such as myself.

The reason I decided to recognize this subway station for Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down is because there is something here that makes me smile, followed by something that makes me grind my teeth, and they appear in rapid succession:


There are two people handing out the free commuter paper, AM New York, that crack me up every single day.  One of them is at the bottom of the stairs.  He has long dreadlocks and is always smiling.  He announces his paper to other people and says things like, "THERE'S the smile I was looking for!  Hold onto that all day long or I might steal it for myself!"

Shortly afterward, as you're walking up your final stairway, you can hear another AMNY distributor hawking her paper to people repeating the line, "AM New York!  Get all the news you need right here!  Stay safe, stay warm, stay focused!"

I love them.


At the same time as you encounter the second AMNY passer-outer, you realize she's yelling over music.  Now, let's be clear:  I am one of the rare people who likes buskers - normally.  I will turn off my iPod in order to hear the guys on the subway itself, trying to squeeze in a song between stations, or the people on the platforms who are making a living doing what they love for anyone who'll listen.  I can't imagine what that must be like for them, so I always try to listen, at least a little.

But this particular "musician" is... I honestly don't know the words to describe the infection that are his songs.

First, please note that it is one guy playing a Peruvian Pipe Flute.   This would be fine in and of itself, but he plays along with a CD that has, apparently, the rest of his bandmates playing the other tracks of the song.  So it's instrumental karaoke.

Secondly, THE CD ONLY HAS TWO SONGS.  I don't know if this is 100% true, or if Peruvian Pipe Flute music is a genre where all the songs sound the same to me, but I'm fairly certain that if you walk by at any given moment, he will be piping one song from the following list:

1. Unchained Melody
2. Our God is an Awesome God

The first is a wedding standard, and also appeared in the movie "Ghost" with Jim Cunningham, the nun from "Sister Act", and Ashton Kutcher's mom, Demi Moore.  The second is a contemporary Christian song I happen to know exists because I was forced to listen to it in Sunday School in Michigan when I was growing up.  Neither is an exceptional piece of music, and BOTH qualify as songs you DON'T want stuck in your head for the day.

So, many mornings I start my day smiling at the funny AMNY people, and then immediately wanting to scream, "Hey, Peruvian!  If your God is so awesome, how come He hasn't taught you any other songs?"


MetroCard Belt Buckle™


(A woman just can't find the subway card in her big purse.  People are bumping into her as she becomes increasingly frustrated )

Tired of standing in front of that busy turnstyle, fumbling around for a fare card you can never seem to find?  Too busy texting and playing with your important handheld device to realize how close to the entrace gates you actually are?

(Jib into spokesman standing over display)

I'm here to show you a revolutionary new product.  The MetroCard Belt Buckle™.    The MetroCard Belt Buckle™ has been mathematically proven to save you valuable time at the subway entrance, far more than traditional belt buckles, and when you're done swiping, you wear it! How does the revolutionary MetroCard Belt Buckle™ work? 

(Cut to a still closeup of a MetroCard Belt Buckle)

Just look the patented 'hipster blacksmith technology':  2 stylish plates scientifically proven to provide a metal case for your card!


(Spokesman sets it down on the countertop.  Divide screen to see ordinary subway card versus subway card and belt buckle)

Just look at this seemlingly ordinary belt buckle encase a metrocard!

(A man watching the subway pass by as he furiously balances his coffee and newspaper and looks through his backpack)

Oh, no!  Did John miss his train again?  No problem with the MetroCard Belt Buckle™!  And after you're done swiping, you have a fashion-forward accessory you're already wearing!  Wow!

(Same man taking card out of belt buckle and swiping effortlessly)

Now, we realize your time is valuable, and so is the time of those around you.  "But how can I save time AND look like the Brooklyn hipster/Upper West Side widow/Bronx MS-13 member I am?"  We have the solution for you!

(Show belt buckle on display prominently with a stamp that says 'all natural')

It benefits children too!  Your kids will LOVE spending the time you've saved with you.

(Show three kids smile, cast multi-ethnic if possible)


“I have no idea how I ever went anywhere before I found The MetroCard Belt Buckle™!”

“It's so easy and fun, it doesn't even feel like I'm wearing a belt!  And the metallic coloring is sublime.”

(Back to spokesman)

But that's not all.  Order your The MetroCard Belt Buckle™ now, and get complimentary full access to the rest of the products on our website!  We're have no doubt that once you try this first purchase, you'll be back again and again!

Just go to the website below and order today!

(Speed disclaimer)

Order HERESee it on the news HERE!  See our other infomercials HERE



Three Words

Three words I've heard on my commute lately that I would really appreciate if you'd stop using:

1.  "Chillax"

2.  "Ginormous"

3.  "Redonkulous"

Thank you.


Chicago Kevin

From: Kevin B.
To: Jordan Knol
Date: Thu, Feb 17, 2011 at 11:59 AM
Subject: Nice blog

A couple things I wanted to chime in on just because...

* in Chicago people don't stand to the right on escalators.  It just doesn't happen.  It's a HUGE noticeable difference that I think stems partly from the Midwest vs EastCoast.  People on the East Coast are wound tighter and therefore are anxious to get to where they are going, so you have more "fast walkers" who will enforce the rule to stand to the right on the escalator.

[[I appreciate receiving this insight.  It's been a long time since I was on the "El", so it's nice to know I should wait a little longer until people in the Windy City get their shit together.  It should be noted, however, that this "stand on the right on an escalator" rule ONLY applies on public transportation escalators.  Once you're on a private one, all bets are off.  Sometimes, in Port Authority or at a movie theater, I'll stand on the left just to watch people behind me get confused.]] 

* my biggest pet peeve happens almost every time I go to Union Station in Chicago to catch my train back home.  People that STOP right when they get off the escalator.  Are you kidding me?  The next 10 people behind them have to stumble by while they make a decision about deciding where they think they are.  Most of the time this happens in high-touristy areas for obvious reasons.

[[I love your line: "people have to stumble by while they make a decision about deciding where they think they are."  This is EXACTLY what's happening: 
--At first, the escalator is a novelty (Every.  Damn.  Time.), "Holy shit, dude!  These stairs MOVE!  It's like... it's like they're CARRYING me!" 
--Followed by complacency, "Hum-de-dummmm... this moving-stair ride is freeeeeee... and I'm on iiiiiiit!"  
--Then, you would think the leveling off of the "stairs" would be an indication the "ride" was about to end, but NO - these rubes are always taken aback by the end of the escalator, like their equilibrium was so jostled in the last 30 seconds that they need a minute to gather their bearings.  (You will notice this jackassery on the sidewalks, too - as people exit storefronts, but I think the importance of pedestrian merging and not ever stopping will be posts of their own, so we'll save that for another time.)

Thanks for writing, Kev!]]


Rule #3: Ride the Wake

In the race car movie Days of Thunder, Tom Cruise's character illustrates how to pass a guy by racing directly behind him, thereby minimizing his own wind resistance.  He conveyed his message by moving sugar packets up the thigh of Nicole Kidman's character.  At least, I THINK this is what he was illustrating.  All I could focus on was Nicole Kidman's thigh.  You see, this is BEFORE she got all the work done on her face.  NOW she looks like Heath Ledger's version of The Joker... only more scary.

My point is that it's sometimes okay to bide your time before passing someone who's walking in front of you.  Please take a look at the illustration below.  It is an approximation of the Ditmars Blvd. stop on the N/Q train.  Like any good commuter, I always try to know which door to enter in which train car so I have easy access to the stairs/escalator/exit upon arrival at my destination. 

This is the subway stop at which I live, and I have knowing-which-door-to-exit-from down to a science.  As illustrated above, many people (represented by the purple "X's") think the door from which to exit the subway car is the first one, Door #1.  On the contrary, it's actually Door #2.  You see, if you can be the first one out of Door #2, you can cover the distance between the train and the LEFT staircase in a few strides, whereas if you exit from Door #1, there are a. generally slower people in front of you, and b. all of them are going to go for the nearest staircase, slowing your exit from the station.

So I (the little happy face in the picture above) always try to leave from Door #2.

But what's that you say?  There are people coming UP the stairs?  As it turns out from the epic illustration above, there is indeed a child and it's parent walking ascending the righthand stairway, and one lone soul ascending the left.  So the strategy here is simple:  Ride the Wake.

The large "X" exiting Door #1 is likely to be a fast walker: like me, he knows which door to exit and has been itching to do so ever since 30th Avenue.  When you see HIM make a beeline to the LEFTHAND staircase, that's when you make your move.  Get in stride directly behind him.  He will mow down (or at least force aside) the one knucklehead coming up the stairs, which will allow you to pass him at the turnstiles below.

Under NO circumstances take the righthand stairs.  The presence of the child and it's parent indicates that they are people who will be traveling abreast, not single file and hugging the rail as is appropriate.

I was going to add red arrows to the illustration to show what I was talking about, à la the whiteboard of an NFL coach, but all I could hear in my head was John Madden's voice doing a play-by-play of the whole thing, and, quite frankly, there are enough voices in my head to ignore without the appearance of his drunk, rambling ass.

Riding the wake is like using a human shield.  The person in front of you takes the hits, while you match pace and get where you're going bruise-free.  Obviously, if they are a Slow Walker, this is a problem.  When that becomes an issue, please direct them to Rule #1, so at least you can still progress in your journey, even with some bumps and scrapes along the way.


I don't think I've gotten enough credit for NOT making fun of Scientology in this post.  I mentioned Tom Cruise at the beginning, and didn't so much as giggle.  The Voices and I are making real progress.


Rule #2: Commit

While I understand there is no way to close your eyes while reading this (have someone read it to you, maybe?), I would like you to try your best to imagine something for me:

Imagine you are a good looking, professional women, who has been so career-focused you haven't had much time to date.  Financially, you do well; not so well you have a permanent driver 24/7, but well enough that you can afford the stilettoes and fur coat you're wearing.  Imagine you finally found someone who could be the man of your dreams.  The first three dates have gone very well, and your taxi just dropped you off across the street from the restaurant where Date #4 is to occur.  As you begin to cross the avenue, the "Don't Walk" sign starts flashing.  What do you do?

Need some time to think it over?  Okay, here's another:

Imagine you're a young guy who just got his driver's license.  A buddy of yours wanted to go to this party way the hell out in Queens, and since you knew that there'd be drinking there, you made the difficult decision to "borrow" your parent's car so you could make sure your friend got to and from the party safely.  Now it's late.  You're got a little turned around on the way home, and your buddy is no help as he is drunk in the passenger seat, yelling loudly about how this chick from his Chemistry class spent the whole party ignoring him and making out with a varsity athlete.  You aren't a very good driver, but you're fairly certain you can get back home before your parents notice you (or their car) were ever gone.  The problem is, you're not QUITE sure where you are.  As you approach an intersection with a stop sign, you are unsure of whether or not you should turn.  There's traffic on both sides, but as you roll past the sign, it dawns on you that perhaps you wanted to turn right at that stop because you're pretty sure the sign in front of the diner down the block looked familiar.  So you basically stop in the middle of the road, unsure of what to do, as the drivers in both of the lanes you're blocking begin to approach from both sides.  Now there is also a car behind you, and someone trying to cross the street at the crosswalk you're approaching, and people are starting to honk, and your buddy looks like he might vomit in your parent's car.  What do you do?

Still not with me? 

Okay, one last one, and then I promise I'll get to the point:

Imagine that your mother lives by herself in Queens, and doesn't get around as well as she used to.  Sure, last summer, you were able to go feed the ducks at the park with her, but lately you've been concerned that she doesn't like the stairs to her apartment so she makes up excuses not to go out.  You mean to call her more, but you've been so busy at work, and your partner is driving you crazy, and your siblings keep texting you pictures of THEIR kids at insane hours of the morning.  Today, the day you're imagining, you haven't heard from your mother in some time, and your brothers and sisters haven't, either.  She won't answer her phone, and none of the neighbors have heard from her nor seen her in a few days.  You had planned on watching "Dexter" on Netflix that night, because you are midway through Season 2 and, let's face it, that show is insanely good, but you ended up being the Lucky Family Member to go check in on Mother, who you're sure is fine, that perhaps she had just accidentally turned the ringer off her phone because that sort of thing had happened before.  But that feeling of dread and fear that something is just not quite right begins to settle itself in your gut as you approach her block.  It has been snowing this winter, and the crosswalks are only cleared wide enough for one person to cross the street at a time.  You know these weather conditions can't be good for your mother.  A block away from her condo, you notice an ambulance out front with its lights flashing.  You begin to run towards your mother's building, fearing the worst as you start to cross the street.  You notice in the deep recesses of your mind that, about a half block away, a car is coming towards you and has a green light.  It is not speeding, and you have plenty of time to get to the other side.  What do you do?

The answer, to all three examples is simple:  COMMIT. 

To the lady in the fur coat and heels, commit to crossing.  You'll be fine.  Odds are good that any driver coming has already seen the light is red and, while it will SOON change to green, you'll be at LEAST halfway across the street by the time that happens, and there's no way he's going to hit someone who looks like she could sue him for everything he's got.

For the kid, commit to going straight.  New York is composed of small blocks, and chances are good if you made the wrong call, you can circle back within about 90 seconds and be back on the right track. 

For the person worried about their mother, COMMIT.  Who CARES that there's a car coming?  You're already starting to speed up, and who knows?  That ambulance could be for HER!

It should also be noted that in the the case of the kid with his folk's car, I'm the guy who's trying to cross the street, wondering if you're going to go, or what.  For the person going for their mom's, I'm actually behind you, wondering why the hell you're so concerned about a car that's WAY THE HELL DOWN THERE when all I want to do is get out of this freezing weather.  And to the woman in the heels, I'm the guy waiting for you at the restaurant.  But I'm going to take this opportunity to break up with you in person.  I just can't COMMIT to someone who wears fur.  You look like an idiot.