December 28, 2014
Metro, the vast transportation bureaucracy that likes to claim it keeps the trains and buses running on time, is also amongst those unhinged protean forces pushing for the 710 Tunnel. And like so many of that ilk they are beholden to nobody but the big moneyed interests whose favor they work so very hard to win. Both from here and abroad. They're really not all that different from many politicians in that regard. They will happily sell you out in a heartbeat if it furthers their financial agenda.
Average citizens, whose tax money sustains these folks in their well-salaried and comfortably pensioned careers, are considered to be little more than a marketing problem. Which is why Metro maintains its own information and news compendium called The Source. Here you can find daily evidence of just how Metro views the world, along with its very important place in it. It's all very self-celebratory stuff.
Which is where I found the following story. Titled "A scourge is spreading! MTA’s cure: Dude, close your legs," it deals with something that has become known as "man-spreading." Here is how Metro gets their crazy going (link and scroll down):
The article looks at those who are pushing back against men who feel the need to treat the subway as if it’s their couch and/or lounge chair and/or ManCave. That list includes the New York MTA, which has debuted a new poster.
The video that Metro is gushing about, mildly raunchy language and all, can be linked to by clicking here. But a more interesting version is found here.
This is a portion of the New York Times article Metro cites so reverentially (link):
It is the bane of many female subway riders. It is a scourge tracked on blogs and on Twitter. And it has a name almost as distasteful as the practice itself. It is man-spreading, the lay-it-all-out sitting style that more than a few men see as their inalienable underground right.
Now passengers who consider such inelegant male posture as infringing on their sensibilities — not to mention their share of subway space — have a new ally: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Taking on manspreading for the first time, the authority is set to unveil public service ads that encourage men to share a little less of themselves in the city’s ever-crowded subways cars.
Riding the F train from Brooklyn to Manhattan on a recent afternoon, Fabio Panceiro, 20, was unapologetic about sitting with his legs spread apart. “I’m not going to cross my legs like ladies do,” he said. “I’m going to sit how I want to sit.”
And what if Mr. Panceiro, an administrative assistant from Los Angeles, saw posters on the train asking him to close his legs? “I’d just laugh at the ad and hope that someone graffitis over it,” he said.
For Kelley Rae O’Donnell, an actress who confronts man-spreaders and tweets photos of them, her solitary shaming campaign now has the high-powered help of the transportation authority, whose ads will be plastered inside subway cars.
“It drives me crazy,” she said of men who spread their legs. “I find myself glaring at them because it just seems so inconsiderate in this really crowded city.”
When Ms. O’Donnell, who lives in Brooklyn and is in her 30s, asks men to move, she said, they rarely seem chastened: “I usually get grumbling or a complete refusal.”
Here is the thing. Having lived and worked in New York City for more than a few years I know how crowded and unpleasant subway commuting can be. They're generally awful places, and much of my distaste for public transportation comes from years of having to put up with such misery. When I moved out here I gladly bought a car and never once looked back.
So here's the good news. Since the Gold Line (or 210 Trolly as I often call it) doesn't go anywhere very useful except perhaps downtown Los Angeles, not that many people ride it. Sometimes you can get a trolly car almost to yourself. You can freely stretch out on those small and quite hard plastic seats and at least attempt to get comfortable.
Which is why I cannot understand what Metro is getting all excited about. Train crowding is generally not that much of a problem here. Besides, riding public transportation is degrading enough already without some angry emasculating jerk with a digital camera and a Twitter account telling you to cross your legs. Or else.
Like I said, you have to keep an open mind to the madness. There is just so much of it around.