We Are All Subway Heroes Now

The Way We Live Now: Muttering angrily to ourselves on the subway. Don't be alarmed! It's the normal response to a public transit system that crumbles at the same time driving becomes increasingly unaffordable. Don't cry—it could be worse.

Even though gas prices declined last year, Americans drove less, because 1. unemployed people don't commute, and 2. broke people can't buy gas even if it's cheap. At the same time, "Public transportation will be more crowded and more expensive this year as big-city transit systems across the country respond to severe budget pressures."

That means you, Chicago. And you, San Francisco. And most especially you, New York City.

It could be worse, you say? Well yes, technically, it could be worse. You could be a proud Maine lobsterman reduced to harvesting seaweed, and, worse, fighting with your neighbors for territory in which to harvest seaweed, and, worse, being opposed by a fellow Mainer who's against the harvesting of seaweed on environmental grounds and who herself is forced to harvest periwinkles to make a living.

So yes, could be worse. You could be a Muslim bodega owner who has to choose between following the Koran and selling things people want to buy, and of course you go against the Koran, because you can't eat the Koran, unless it's a souvenir Marzipan Koran, which would be sacrilegious anyhow. Or you could be Ben Bernanke. Nobody wants to be that guy.

Could be worse. Keep that in mind when one of your fellow mass transit riders finally snaps. If they're only swinging an axe, look on the bright side—coulda been a machine gun. It could be worse.