Monday, April 26, 2010

NYC, FAT, and Subway Douchery

Move over, Charlie. Fattie on the MTA. O, just click it!

While I am totally in strong like with friend, FGF supporter, and fellow blogger Ivan Greene from FAT in NYC, sometimes there is a bit of fat in NYC that needs to be trimmed. Ah, but what kind?

I was surprised. [Um, was I really? Queue voice of friend and fellow Big Moves New York-er The Obstreperous Ms. Janie Martinez, “Kira, why are you surprised?”]
I was surprised to read in amNewYork—you know, my main source of news—about bloggers who go after unsuspecting New York City subway riders who eat and/or hog seats on the subway. The bloggers charmingly refer to those who do such things as ‘slobhangers’ or ‘hoggers’ and often, “pigs.” No separate category for fatties. Yet. But, they actually talk about us…at Nicely.

Between service cuts, a possible fare increase, and the building stench and uncleanliness; the increase in vermin; NYC is a tad bit frustrated with the MTA. But, damn, remember the 80s, with our crazy-ier homeless, graffiti train cars, a few old real straps left hanging on, and the muggings. Sigh. The good old days…..?

So, heck yeah, I wanted to check out the sites and see how they treated fatties. And to make sure I wasn’t in any pics. But I must be honest about my MTA subway ridin’ style and ‘my rules’ that I created, like, when I moved here. I have dag-nabbit darn good, indeed, I would say FIERCE MTA ridin’ habits. In fact, I am throwing a party with my friend ‘Al from the bus’ at the end of the year for my fellow M8ers. But I am not without my pet peeves.

First, the.PET PEEVES. In PEEVE-ability order.
Pet Peeve # 1: If you are able-bodied, move your ass out of the ‘eldery and disabled’ seats! I really do wanna scream at people some time—leave those seats empty. They are convenient FOR THOSE WHO NEED THEM! NOT FOR YOUR TIRED ASS. My FAT ass won’t sit there. I have witnesses!

Pet Peeve # 2: People with an extremely high volume on their Ipod headphones. I hate you people, if I wanted to listen to your music I would ask! I don’t expect anyone listening to mine, so I don’t want to listen to yours.

Pet Peeve # 3 Clip your nails elsewhere, like, um, your bathroom! Like, what is your problem, people? Didn’t your Mama teach you any better? Seriously? Seriously?!

Pet Peeve # 4 There NO REASON NOT to clean up after yourself. Littering is illegal. And you should be tarred and feathered! Bring it!

Pet Peeve # 5 Please, please, please let us off the train. Step to the side.

Here is my very own short list of rules to which I abide:
Rule 1: No Reason for Unnecessary Hogging
(Nope not referring to the *OTHER* Fattie Kind. But, if you never read about it, try this. I could not find the Details Magazine article about it. [Um, Janie?]

I am not a seat hogger…….unless there is a pretty empty train (which includes that the wagon/train car has a plethora of seating for a low volume of fellow riders.
AND the max I hog-quite sincerely- is to put my purse down on the seat next to me. And I only take up one seat. As far as I know.

And when I mean my purse, I mean I decided to buy a Jimmy Choo bag, one which grants me morning harassment by this unknown nanny at 125th Street with whom I sometimes share a walk up the stairs. Not because my bag is on the seat—it isn’t at that time of the morning; it’s because she wants it. I told her that I am sure she and Jimmy can make a deal. Canal Street is, after all, on the A train. O, not THAT Jimmy Choo, exactly.

Now there are definitely people who hog seats, with multiple bags, oder (yes, I said it) and the like. And what do I do with those fellow NYers? I tolerate them. I might stare them down if they are particularly rude. And I also stand up when I need to—both literally and figuratively.Part of the fact is that I also take the train at odd times. 6am and 7pm. Not exactly rush hour, not exactly empty.

Rule 2: Be kind (ie.There I go again with that Love Your Neighbor, crap.) Be kind always. Even when it hurts. Like, don’t gauge the eye out of the kid who is screaming “I like blue waffles” on the A train. Don’t stick a shiv into the people who think that I need to listen to THEIR music. Trust me, whatever they are listening to is NEVER on my ipod.

There was a time I sat in pee. There was an empty seat, I was exhausted—especially because it isn’t like I get much sleep 4-5 hours a night usually. And my follower straphangers let me down. I didn’t see it, so I sat. Of course, after I sat, a construction worker dude was like, “O, yeah, that’s wet.” [Thank you MFer Kira said to herself.) And thank you smelly urine dude. I literally had to take off my pants and wash them at work, and then put them back on and ‘carry on Christian soldier.” Thank you black polyester, I love you. But the smell was SO bad, it left me with the impression that it came from an alcoholic. Despite what anyone might think, I said a prayer for that dude. And for anyone else who sat in what he left behind.
Let us not forget that people are freakin’ tired and travel a great distance, much of the time here in NYC. My commute is an hour each way, sometimes and often longer than that. Many are hard working people, immigrant families, or those who know they can make more money with a job in the city, so do the traveling. And the MTA is their only mode of transportation. Must I remind you of our dear friend Emma Lazarus’ words?

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

OK, Emma, I am all about bringing my fellow brother and sister over here. But, they can be neat, right? Must they eat Chinese food/curried goat/McDonald’s, etc. next to me on the subway? I don’t eat on the subway. To me: it is dirty, wrong, inconsiderate, in poor taste, and not good for your health. I don’t think it is good to ‘eat on the run’. And if you need to, I think it better not to do it on the subway. Reason? Filth and vermin. And if YOU NEED to eat on the subway, by all means clean up after yourself! My thoughts and opinions are shared by many a New Yorker.

Yet, these same people do not keep NY clean and that annoys me to no end. Why the F not?! I’ve a riddin’ on many a train, bus, plane, and subway… and don’t understand how Europe can enjoy a cleaner subway system than my own—despite the sheer volume that rides the NYC MTA daily.

These websites/blogs explicitly state that they are ridiculing poor behavior. Part of that I understand, and might even agree with. However, it all depends on HOW you do it. They chose this way. Reminds me of “People of Wal-Mart.” Now, I agree there some people who go out of their homes in outfits that would cause a stylist to have a brain hemorrhage; or perhaps would be best if worn in doors—behind closed doors, but….. they have their right to wear it. This is America! Queue Lee Greenwood.

But some places have amazing dang subways, like Russia for example. And no, there is no soldier with a gun hovering over your kielbasa sandwich if you eat it on the train. In fact, “back in the good old days” no one would be caught dead eating on the subway in the old Soviet Union—it wasn’t, quite simply ever done. It was considered in bad taste--against the standard, bad for the bourgeois and terrible for the proletariat. Most people sat down, crammed in like sardines when need be, and helped babushkas (grandmothers/old women) when asked, and read. Yes. Read. It was silent because people read all the time. You had to be quiet and kind. And if you broke those rules your ass would get handed to you. Even if you were drunk, you knew you should be quiet and read. Unless, of course, you broke out into song. If so, you better have a good voice.

A tangent with no lines. [If anyone actually gets this, I will be in shock.]
For those of you that don’t know, and if my last name isn’t obviously Russian to you, you should know that I spent a considerable amount of time living and working in the Soviet Union and Russian Federation. When most people say “Russia” many iconic images come to mind for the non-Slavophil: The Bolshoi Ballet, Red Square (which is not really red—and I can prove it!), VODKA, fur hats, the long lines of the Brezhnev era, and these days—millionaires, oops; I mean billionaires. And we can make a special note of one favorable fat art admiring billionaire when we recall Roman Abramovich’s $33.6million dollar purchase of Lucien Freud’s 1995 painting of Benefits Supervisor Sleeping in May of 2008. That “fat art” thought made me also recall Freud’s After Cezanne [1999-2000], which also features people as he liked to paint them "not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be." This painting features two women, one of which is plus-sized, in my opinion. Hey, he might not be a fatty lover, but he is open to different shapes, clearly. But, I digress. Or am I just ‘thawing’ out my ideas?! Ah yes, retro Cold War humor! Nostalgia, folks, na-stal-ghee-ya. Yeah. Sigh.

Onward, Russian soldier. One of the many delights (yup, you heard me right) of traveling in the former Soviet Union/Russian Federation is the splendid subway system both in Leningrad [that’s what we called ‘Peter’ when I first arrived] and Moskva (Moscow).

But, it seems, that other places are cleaner. Did we just give up? Are we THAT tired that we can’t clean up after ourselves?!

Now look at the ridership of many of the subway systems I have ridden. NYC totally kick’s your city’s ass in ridership!

San Francisco BART daily ridership 346,504 (Jan-Mar, 2009), wiki
Washington D.C. Metro daily ridership 801, 400
Paris Metropolitan daily ridership 4,500,000
Boston MTA 1.3 million weekday/all modes
London Underground daily ridership 3.4 million weekdays
Saint Petersburg Metro daily ridership 3.43 million
Moscow Metro daily ridership 6.6 million average
NYC MTA daily ridership 11,574,566 weekday/all modes

OK, so NYers tired of what they see below ground, take it to the internet to bitch-slap those who help to create the mess.

But, the question remains, how do they handle the fat issue?

Site # 1:
Since October 2009,, has been keeping track of those who have been “hogging” seats.

They state:
This site is dedicated to outing all NYers or NY subway visitors to hog a
seat in some way, form, or manner. The reason, says is due to

I don’t think that is always the case, as I think the average NYer,is probably too stressed or tired to pay attention to what they are doing some times. Yet, this is NYC, you need to pay attention—all the time. Someone might steal your purse, you might get hit by a cab, you might encounter a pick pocket or Mayor Bloomberg might decide you aren’t rich enough to live in the 212. Oops, he already did that.
I have to give them some props on the fatty issue to

They put us at number one in stating the following:

“Here Are Some Common Examples of NOT Seat Hogging:
1. Fat People Who Spill Over Into Adjacent Seats are generally not considered
Seat Hogs unless someone has paid money for the seat next to them.” {
OK, maybe not what everyone in the size-acceptance community wants to hear,
but………..we aren’t being considered seat hogs. It is, somehow, in some small
way, a step in the right direction? I see it as positive. And I thank them for
knowing, appreciating, and accepting that people, and fellow NYers come in all
shapes and sizes.

But they rate people by casting a vote in “pigs.” Dude. Ok, you are going with your theme, I get it.

Site # 2
This site is primarily dedicated to those who eat on the subway, leave behind items, and litter. When you live here and gotta look at it day in and day out—it’s gross.
From a commuter’s paper that taking up ‘extra’[?] space, to those who eat on trains and train platforms. I appreciate the sentiment in trying to generally, literally, point the finger [and a camera] at those fellow NYers or visitors who can and often are keeping the momentum of vermin writhing under our feet, quite literally on some days. Clean up after yourself, is that SO HARD? Seriously?!

However, frankly, I totally agree with the woman who flipped the bird. If Thou click, thou might get ass kicked. This is New York, yo! I wonder what my lawyer says. Hmm.. Scottie?

Site # 3
I am not sure if this was a way to gain noteriety for his comedy, amuse himself, or perhaps, it seems that this Brooklynite hates subway douchery, as we all do, for the most part. Yet, Tom Sibley is talking and blogging about his hate for the douchbags underground.

Breast feeding, throwing up, peeing on the train. Yeah, that is subway douchery all right. Why o why do people do it? Because they can?

One interesting comment reflected on, “I love NYC subways. Anything can happen.” True that.

One person’s subway douchbaggery is another person’s free entertainment.
Crazy drunk trannys pole dancing,”
or guys rick rollin’ it (actual term! Damn, the sh*t you find on the internet!)
University of Oregon accapella group On the Rocks rickrolled us recently.[Dudes—shout out from a fellow UO duck! Dude the blond with the beatbox—you go, brother!]

That IS part of the fun! That is part of why I DON'T live in suburbia ( I could be persueded, though, maybe, perhaps.)I find it hilarious, anyway. Way more hilarious than sittin’ in urine, getting blasted with lively and loud Spanish music at 6:30am, or I do have to hand it to fellow NYers who kick ass in the ‘creative grafetti’ category. And if you ever want to see some serious grafitti, you should check out the documentary that premiered at Tribeca in 2007, Bomb It!

Despite grafetti being illegal, or “morally wrong in defacing others’ property;” there is some which I simply could not live without!

Although, thanks to this site, I was able to solve and age-old question for me and fellow Big Mover, Suzi Tasca. Visit this link, Suzi. I think I found the culprit. We kept hearing this guy, but could never see him. Explains a lot, right?!

Site # 4 [Northface jackets, optional.]
A site dedicated to those who lean on the pole and do not allow others to use it. Simple enough, with a good point. Make room, yo! And the one Biggest Loser post, was about a woman completely leaning against the pole, not her weight.

A simple agenda to socially humiliate the wrongdoers into doing the right thing. I abhor the fact that one site tells you how to snap a picture.

In every New York minute, people are always moving. The best description I ever really heard that captured it was in Russian, where a friend said , “New York kipeet,” which translates as “New York is boiling.” That being said, we are all on the go to go somewhere else, do something else or someone else—or their friend—(not me, but I do read) and as a result for many, that means eating on the run. Practically every block you can see someone sipping coffee as they walk, the coffee cup has become a fashion accessory for many. And from where you buy your coffee says something about you.

I mean I know our apartments are small and all that, but, really, it isn’t an extension of your home.

Even more recently came out with a brief article interviewing author Robert Rowland about his new book “Breakfast with Socrates: An Extraordinary (Philosophical) Journey Through Your Day, who states we should “Love They Neighbor.” Even on the subway. Part of which, he invites us to “Stop dreaming and start living.” Jimmy DELAVEGA, can you hear me?

NYC is a grind. It is a tough crowd in many ways. And we definitely have it harder in some very real ways. Try paying my rent! So….if we all have it hard—make room for everybody, because there is room for everybody.

And let me close with my recent fatty issue on the M8. As Al and I were sitting there having our morning chit-chat (quietly!), Ms. Must Sit in First Seat-less-than-charming-totally-graduated-from-high school many an era ago-thinks fatties must die-could seriously use Botox, like, um, all over—decided to mimic my size with her hands and mouth the words “too much, too much.” She had made other faces and or gestures over the past 2 years, but I could never prove out-rightly that she was 1) talking about me specifically [even though I knew she was], 2) was not as overt about it (even thought I knew what she was doing). So, on her last gallant failure, I decided to say something and what I said was: “Lady, your prejudice is way bigger than my body!” Smiling, and exit. It was kind fat activism in my opinion. I stood up for myself, and did not ‘sink’ to her level. Why? Because Fat Girls Float.

KIRA NERUSSKAYA, Near perfect NYC MTA etiquette and “Love Thy Neighbor’ enthusiast.

NEW YORK CITY, but wishing I was watching the sun set in Galway……

Alive and well, and ridin’ the M8, A Train, D Train, and M18 daily
with my Unlimited Metrocard.

PS. Please note that Charlie’s wife gave him a daily sandwich.
But, I doubt he was fat.


  1. This is a great post! I lived just outside NYC for nearly a year (I miss it so much!), so I can definitely relate to everything you've said here, and agree wholeheartedly with you!

    Also, I am moving to Galway for the summer. It's a beautiful place!

  2. Thanks, Melissa! Enjoy your summer!
    Drink a pint for me!

  3. You're very welcome! Your project looks like it will be good (I watched one of the videos you posted!), and definitely is a story that needs to be brought into the mainstream.

    The pint... I don't drink beer, but I'll have some whiskey for you! Ireland is a beautiful country, you should visit some time! My original plan was to be here for a year (grad school), but I may be coming back permanently in the near future. :)

  4. Yah know, I haven't been on the NY Subway in, probably, a year but I feel like this encapsulates my past experience. Except for one thing; Back Pack Kiddies- People who have the effrontery to try getting on a sardines-in-a-can crowded train WITHOUT bothering to taking off their back packs. I HATE that crap!

    I totally agree with your observations on the different systems in other cities. Haven't had the chance to get overseas but I can attest to the differences between the NYC Subway and the DC Metro. On the Metro, it seemed to me that seating space was more akin to prime Real Estate. When the doors open in the Greenbelt Station (First Station on the line into DC) it was like the great Land Rush with people diving to stake their claims on seating. And i don't mean just the fat folk. It seemed to me that thinner folks were FAR more intent and competitive to make SURE they got a seat on the trains. But maybe it was just me. After all I was used to NYC where people usually cluster around the doors with the intent of getting OFF the train and getting to their next appointment as quickly as possible (“New York kipeet,”? Yeah, that pretty much pegs it. Gotta remember that one.) Even the Fat Folk. The only time I sat on the subways was when the car was practically empty and that had more to do with MY comfort than anything else. Scrunch myself up into a tense little ball trying to accommodate someone else or stand and relax? I'll take 'stand' for $300, Alex.

    Maybe it's just me getting older, but I'm thinking that a large part of the hostility and hair temper irrationality we're seeing on the travel ways (Planes, trains, buses, and by 'we' I mean EVERYBODY) is probably due to the erosion of general civility in this country. Did a post on LJ awhile back that pretty much sums up my feelings on that one. Basically, 'Get over yourselves people. 'Cause it could be worse'.

    As for the Back Pack Kiddy who once tried to reformat my spine with his pack on a crowded E train one day? Well, he found out just how uncomfortable he could be when, over 300Lbs of pissed-off fellow commuter decided he'd had enough and just LEANED on him. The faint sound of face peeling off glass when the doors finally opened at Penn Station was most satisfying.

  5. Hahaha, great blog from your friends at We put a link to this blog on our front page under SeatHogs Press. Keep up the god work and keep fighting the good fight.

    Email your photos of SeatHogs or outrageous Subway Behavior to

  6. I agree with most of this, but sometimes I really do need to eat on the subway. There are occasions when that subway time is the only close to free time I have, and I'm really hungry RIGHT THEN and need to eat before my blood sugar gets too low for comfort. But I don't leave messes, certainly.

  7. I forgot to mention, i actually wanted to title this piece:

    A Grape, a Cheeze It, and an empty Arizona can becuase that is what I saw on my way home that day.

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