Starting on Tuesday, cell phones will get reception at six subway stations on 14th Street, thereby ending the sweet, sweet silence on NYC's platforms. But just because you can use your phone doesn't mean you should. Here are some rules.
The best thing about the subway, for me at least, was that phones didn't work. It was the only place you could completely escape and be free of the constant nagging of calls and texts both on your own phone and having to listen to someone else's. Now this is all ruined. These stations are the first, but the whole subway system will be wired by 2016 (a decade before the Second Ave subway is completed, probably) so let's just lay the groundwork for how to behave now.
We do not want to hear your phone conversations. This goes for in line at Starbucks or standing out front of your office and certainly at the station. If you want to talk while walking down the sidewalk, that's fine, because you're just like a passing ambulance, but no talking while standing still. I don't want my commute ruined by being forced to listen to your side of some stupid fight you had with your boyfriend or talk to your mother about he weather in Boca. Shut up!
Since you can't talk, feel free to send as many text messages as you want. Behave like a 14 year-old who just got her phone back after being grounded for a week and send 73 short communiques in 60 seconds. Let your thumbs go positively crazy. As long as we don't have to hear it, we're fine. Just do us a favor and turn down your ringer so when the replies start pouring in we don't have to listen to the first few bars of "Hey Ya" on your ringtone.
Keep It Brief
If you get a call that you absolutely must take, keep it short. If it's your boss or your girlfriend or your mom and you can't let it go to voicemail just pick up and say, "Hey, I'm on the subway, can I call you back in 5?" Then call them back when you get off at your stop and talk away (as you walk away). If it's the person who you're meeting at your destination, just say, "Hey, I'm waiting for the subway, I'll see you soon." That's fine. We've all been there, and we'll excuse it. It's the yammering that is going to drive your fellow passengers crazy. If it's a call of mild importance, let it go to voicemail and text back that you're on the subway and you can either text or call back when you're off the rails.
Get Out of the Way
If you have to talk on the phone, do it somewhere people aren't going to have to bump into you. That includes on the stairs, at the top of the stairs, in front of the turnstile, in front of the Metrocard machines, in front of an empty bench seat right smack dab in the middle of the platform or just inside the turnstyle. Just about everywhere other than leaning against the wall of the station. That's the best place for you. Just get as close as you can to the wall or risk getting pushed onto the tracks. Chatting is not a reason to stop and hold up traffic for everyone. Asshole.
Screaming Does Not Improve Reception
Just like yelling at someone doesn't make them understand English, it doesn't help your reception either. For some reason I assume the reception on the subway will be spotty and if that happens, don't yell. We're already annoyed at you for making a long call, don't make it even worse with a bunch of, "Are you there?"s.
Enjoy the Internet
If you have a smart phone and can check your favorite websites, update Facebook, tweet your Twitter, or read your Instapaper, go for it! That sure will make the 25 minute wait for the next F train go by a lot more quickly. Just, you know, don't look at porn. Well, feel free to look at porn, if you're alone but don't touch yourself. But if you're going to watch anything with sound or surf YouTube videos, plug in your headphones. The only thing worse than watching Keyboard Cat is only hearing it. Oh, and if you're on Grindr and you see me on Grindr too standing "0 feet away," don't send me a message, just come over and say hi. The only thing better than the internet on the train is a new friend to take home.
[Image via Shutterstock]