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.