The Focus Is On ME!

A few months ago, I was selected to be in a focus group.  Yea, you heard me right – focus group.  About the LIRR. Specifically, their bathrooms.

Yahtzee.  As we’ve discussed in the past, the Long Island Railroad – while vastly impressive in the number of people it hauls to and from the great City of New York, leaves a lot to be desired.

Some of the issues with the LIRR are not railroad problems – they’re people problems.  I could talk for days…and days…and days…about some of the freaks I’ve encountered during my 10 years (and counting) commuting from different areas of the Island into the City.  I’d type them all out, but I’m already terrified I’m going to get carpal tunnel, I know that will 100% push me over the edge.

I digress.  Focus, on the focus group.  Now, I’ve never participated in a focus group before – at least not a real one.  Telling everyone my opinion regardless of them wanting it can sometimes be considered “rude” or “annoying” (HELPFUL).  These people want to hear what I have to say, and they’re going to PAY me for it.  Effn.  Awesome.

There was one caveat.  We had to actually use the rest room in Penn Station and on the train before going to the group.

If anyone has ridden any train, or been in Penn Station, you know these are two places you do NOT want to go.  Especially not as a woman.  During rush hour.  Does it count if I sneak into Penn at 4am and go then?

My first stop was the restroom at Penn.  Now, I’m a bit of a germ freak, and I have a phobia of public bathrooms.  I hate them.  I hate the floors being sticky, I hate other people hearing me pee, I hate the thought of all the heineys that aren’t mine this toilet bowl has seen, I hate the idea I may or may not have toilet paper in the stall when I’m ready to go.  I mean – there’s a lot more that I can’t stand about public bathrooms, so this is the just the tip of the iceberg.

In any event, I’m not expecting much from this restroom (boy did they deliver!), but I am keeping in mind the fact that the restroom services so many people a day…it truly does have a very hefty job to accomplish.  With an open mind, I wait on the oddly long line for the ladies room (slightly before rush hour… I can only make so much progress in a week, guys).  As I approach the front of the line, I notice an entire wing of the ladies room not being used.  And a bathroom attendant leaning against the wall looking at her phone.  Word, I’ll go back here.

If you think public bathrooms are terrifying, public bathrooms with little light are even more terrifying.  Or better, I guess, because you can’t really see whats going on…so I rush in and out, careful not to touch anything…spraying hand sanitizer in front of me on the way out to block me from any airbornes…and walk directly into a homeless woman (I assume) washing her feet in the sink.

I’m out.  Sorry.

The one on the train…well.  I guess I’ll save that for another day.

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Ah, the commute.

Now, I know that I have a tendency to be a little aggressive at times, sometimes even a little intimidating – but I’m hardly an imposing physical being – just a little well versed at cutting the occasional person down (when needed).

The other day I’m sitting on a train, happily minding my business.  Generally, I will sit against the window in case anyone cares to join me, but today the seat I got into had duct tape all over it – and if someone wanted to sit, well, they could sit on the tape.  I’m not putting runs in my pantyhose for complete strangers. 

The train starts to fill up, and gets a little congested, when a woman comes up behind me – at the same time that a fella is to my front.  They essentially meet in the aisle outside the seat I’m in, and she taps me on the shoulder asking me if she could sit.  I get up, get as close to the man in my face as possible without molesting him, and she wiggles past me to sit down.  As I’m returning to where I was sitting, she looks at me and says “Animal.”

Obviously, she can’t be talking to me, so I look behind me and she says “no.  You.  You’re an animal.  You think you could have moved a bit more so I could sit down.  Now my nice leather skirt is torn”.

I kind of ignore her and she keeps rambling so I turn to her, and very quietly say “I have been commuting for over 7 years.  I don’t need you to tell me how to behave on a train.  You clearly saw I had no room to move, it isn’t my fault that your clothes don’t fit you properly”

I brush my hair back with my fingers, reach into my laptop bag and take out my phone.  She then turns to me and puts an open can of soda on the seat in between us, and with a sneer says “I sure hope this soda doesn’t spill”.  So, I put my phone back into my bag, put my right hand into the zipped pocket in the back (where I usually keep my weapons), and turn to her.

“You wouldn’t be threatening me, would you?  Because that would be a mistake.” I provide one of my “don’t fuck with me or I’ll ruin your day” looks, she picks up her soda can and says “You must be hearing things”.  So I remove my hand from my bag and continue looking at my phone, with a half-smile.  That prompts a “Well I still look better than you”.

We’ve been through this.  I know that I can be a touch on the arrogant side, but I’m not really one to self promote.  In this instance, however, I didn’t have much of a choice.  I had even brushed my hair that morning AND put on makeup, so I know I was rocking it.

“…oh honey.  We both know that’s not true”

After that – the rest of my ride was in silence.

pubic transportation.

No – that’s not a typo.  I’m lumping commuters into one, nasty bunch.

I take two forms of public transportation on a daily basis, and occasionally will hop on a subway (when I want to see how the other peeps live).

People are nassssty.  This morning, a woman was sitting next to me shoveling a cinnamon toasted sandwich, with what I can only assume was a pound of butter on it, down her gullet – followed with an iced coffee.

When she got up, there was a little pile of crumbs where she sat.  What did she do?  Well, what any commuter would do.  She left it there.

She got b-tchface.

Couple weeks ago, I was taking the train in on the weekend to see a friend, and there was a woman eating a plate of food.  With her fingers.  And it consisted of rice, peppers and onions and hunks of some kind of meat on a bone she was chewing on.

How in the hell do people not realize that they’re disgusting when they eat like that on the train?  Or the bus?  Do they honestly think I want to see their nasty eating habits on display?

Lemme clear it up: I don’t.  Actually, people’s eating habits in general gross me out.  I’m not the most refined person, and I’m all for chowing down on a plate of wings with my fingers – however – my napkin is in my lap and if I’m not in the company of people I know well, I’ll excuse myself to the bathroom to pick my teeth (my family gets a show, though, sometimes I’ll do it with a butter knife, at the dinner table.  I’m a laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaady).

Maybe the people you eat with want you to see how much they’re enjoying their food by chewing with their mouths open?  Maybe they want you to view the hunk of meat they have lodged in their molars (saving it for later!)

It’s not just chics that eat stinky food on the train, fellas are just as bad, but I’ve noticed that guys tend to gravitate more towards McDonalds, Taco Bell or pizza.  Let me tell you, if someone is getting in the seat next to me with a bag of popcorn, you can rest assured I’m sneezing into that bag or sighing loudly and often enough that they’ll get the hint they’re p-ssing off the whole car and leave.

I propose a quiet car – no food, no talking.  And no people who can’t sit still.  And everyone has to file in and out like civilized human beings.  You can have a bottle of water and coffee, unless you complain about the heat of the coffee.  And you can drink beer, but once you get drunk and rowdy, you go to the Animal car.  If you talk on your phone, or your iPad or Kindle or whatever you’re playing on makes noise – I’m confiscating it.  No questions, and you’re not getting it back.

Unless you try to take it from me.  And succeed.  Remember, I’m strapped.

Don’t even get me started on public restrooms.