Home View from Underground Photo of the Day: Turning the B into a sleeper car

Photo of the Day: Turning the B into a sleeper car

by Benjamin Kabak

Photo by Benjamin Kabak

A few weeks ago, I was traveling from Midtown to West 4th St. on a B train shortly after 1:30 in the afternoon when I happened upon this scene. By all appearances, the man who made the B his own personal sleeper car didn’t seem to be homeless; he was just tired. So he fell asleep.

Now, because of the seating configuration of the R68s, an industrious sleeper can stretch out and form a human barrier. As this photo that I snapped surreptitiously shows, this sleeper is effectively taking up five seats for the price of one just so he can grab a little shut-eye on the subway. It’s a good thing this was a mid-day ride down the relatively uncrowded 6th Ave. corridor and not a trip with a few more passengers at an hour approaching peak travel times.

So riddle me this, loyal readers: Is this behavior acceptable? According to the New York Transit Rules of Conduct, it is not. This snoozer is violating at least one provision in Rule 1050.7 and could be accused of breaking a few more. He is, contra to Rule 1050.7(10)(2), placing his feet on a seat and is also occupying more than one seat. When I boarded the B, it wasn’t crowded enough to claim this guy was “interfering with the comfort of other passengers.”

Our time aboard a subway car is always a fleeting one, and yet people treat the seats as their own personal foot rest all the time. I’ve seen passengers scramble to remove their shoes from a seat that I’m about to use, and I always wonder how they would feel if I stomped all over their living room couch or dining room chairs. One person, one seat, and keep your feet on the floor, I say.

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R. Graham April 27, 2011 - 2:11 am

This is why I stand, even on a train with a all the seats that I can choose from. I stand because all too often who knows what’s been going on with the seat prior to my arrival and how often are they cleaned? Exactly!

pea-jay April 27, 2011 - 2:47 am

at least the MTA had the good sense not to use cloth seating. BART is finally getting around to addressing their truly nasty seat situation.

BrooklynBus April 27, 2011 - 9:35 am

I suppose then either you charge all your purchases or wear gloves all the time, because you never know who handled your money before you did.

Adirondacker12800 April 27, 2011 - 4:06 pm

Or handled the strap they are hanging on….

JamesL April 27, 2011 - 2:32 am

At the same time, when you stand and hold onto a pole, who knows what was going on with the pole prior to your arrival and how often it is cleaned?

Benjamin Kabak April 27, 2011 - 2:35 am

I’d say the poles are far dirtier than the seats.

R. Graham April 27, 2011 - 2:36 am

At least I can wash my hands when I get to work or home. When I get to work if I sit. I have to sit in those clothes all day. Holding the pole wins!

John Paul N. April 27, 2011 - 3:50 am

I never thought I would be fastidious about this, but I now always try to carry a small bottle of Purell with me when I go out and I feel disappointed if I forget. Maybe that’s because I often go to a restaurant after using the subway or bus.

John Paul N. April 27, 2011 - 3:53 am

I prefer cold poles over hot poles. That sounds dirty no matter how I say it.

John Paul N. April 27, 2011 - 4:49 pm

Here, I mean dirty as in raunchy, if there was any confusion.

pete April 27, 2011 - 11:39 am

The subway is only cleaned by the clean pants and clean hands washing the the grime off.

John Paul N. April 27, 2011 - 3:42 am

While I don’t condone stretching out as this guy did, what interferes with my comfort more is when a homeless or unkempt person (men almost every time) stinks up an entire car. You’d get personal space all right. Happened to me last week and earlier this week. Although I didn’t stay on the cars for more than 1 or 2 stations, I’d say the odors exacerbated the seasonal cold that is lingering with me now.

CenSin April 27, 2011 - 6:59 am

I’ve already long thought of the seats as elevated extensions of the floor. All sorts of people have placed their dirt on these things. I never sit because of that. Instead, I stand without even holding on to poles or leaning on doors; I’ve developed a good balance because of that habit.

pete April 27, 2011 - 11:42 am

Ever sat anywhere in public? Any fast food place is as clean the subway. What about your job? Is your chair exclusive to you and did you mark it with a marker as such (in case facilities swaps it out)? Lets talk about toilet seats.

If you leave your house, everything is pretty much contaminated. Dont bother trying to avoid it. You would never succeed under the UV dye and blacklight test.

Alon Levy April 27, 2011 - 9:07 am

If the train is not crowded, I don’t see what the problem is with taking five seats. You’re not paying for a seat; you’re paying for transportation, and when seats are scarce, they get distributed on a first-come-first-served basis.

BrooklynBus April 27, 2011 - 9:33 am

For once I agree with Alon. Ben, I think you are making a big deal over nothing.

John April 27, 2011 - 9:34 am

Totally agree.

BBnet3000 April 27, 2011 - 11:01 am

Agree, BUT the question is whether this guy would still be sleeping if the train got crowded. If he started near the end of a line, what happens when it starts filling up, etc? I can definitely imagine people doing this on BART, but the seats basically force you to sleep upright.

I think a more interesting topic is the germophobia thats been revealed in this thread.

ajedrez April 28, 2011 - 3:02 am

But if the train was crowded to the point where those seats were needed, wouldn’t somebody wake the man up if they needed to sit? Or they would’ve thought he was a homeless man and left him alone?

By the way, what is the fine for putting your feet up on a seat and taking up more than one seat?

Also, does this rule apply to the Staten Island Ferry since it is run by the DOT?

Bolwerk April 27, 2011 - 1:06 pm

I agree, but putting your feet on the seat is inexcusable and revolting. The punishment for it should be immediate death.

Gregory Malcolm April 27, 2011 - 10:11 am

If this conduct bothers you, be glad you missed out on the random gun fights that would break out on the train. Once you experience that, you’d WISH people taking up too many seats would be your biggest complaint.

pete April 27, 2011 - 11:46 am

The NYPD has a quota for bench sleepers nowadays. So he mustn’t be a bum or must be new. When was the last time you saw a bum horizontally sleeping?

The E train is a better sleeper car/bumotel. The B goes outdoors. The E never goes outdoors. Although both the B and the E don’t eject riders at both terminals, which is a plus.

ferryboi April 27, 2011 - 11:49 am

I’ve driven in to the city 1000’s of times, and not ONCE has a bum and/or sleepy-guy appeared on the passenger seat next to me. Boo-ya, score one for the drivers!

pete April 27, 2011 - 10:46 pm

How many tried to wash your windshield then threaten to key your car at a red light?

Bolwerk April 28, 2011 - 12:05 am

The only time that happened to me that I remember, since the early 1990s, was in The Bronx circa 2004.

Alex April 27, 2011 - 11:53 am

I don’t think this is acceptable. When I sleep on the subway (and I sleep often), i grab only one seat, typically one where I can lean against something.
I don’t really care if the seats and poles are dirty or not. They seem to be doing ok by me. I do my laundry weekly and I wash my hands on a regular basis. If I wanted to avoid all the germs on the subway, I’d own a car.

BrooklynBus April 27, 2011 - 5:31 pm

I’d rather he do what he is doing, than sleep on my shoulder.

R2 April 27, 2011 - 12:22 pm

To all you subway germaphobes, this is why you have allergies.

R. Graham April 27, 2011 - 7:06 pm

I’m doing fine in that department and like I said. I don’t have a problem holding a pole. My hand washing habit ranks better than average.

John April 27, 2011 - 2:43 pm

I sort of agree with R2 on this one. I ride the subways and buses all day and I don’t worry about who sat there before me or who grabbed the pole prior to my arrival. What’s the point? If you live here and commute here, you know what you’re getting yourself into. And to all these germophobes on here: are you sick all the time from this? I was unaware this was a new issue that was spreading diseases rampantly to all New Yorkers. I haven’t had an issue once, and I don’t forsee it happening.

John Paul N. April 27, 2011 - 4:46 pm

I tend to get sick easily, ever since I was born. I have used hand sanitizer regularly only in the last year, and by regularly, that’s once or twice a day if I feel like it, so no, I don’t consider myself a germaphobe. I don’t blame my heavy use of the bus/subway as the primary contributor of my sicknesses, it’s more likely my house environment and preexisting bodily conditions. Lately, if I do get illnesses, they tend to be shorter and more manageable since I was introduced to a particular immunity defense tablets by a friend. (Thanks, Kenny! He also works in a vitamin store, BTW.)

As I said above, foul body odors that are as strong at either ends of a subway car are a bigger annoyance to me than touching or sitting on things in public vehicles. And other people agree with me: on Monday the odorous car (the F at 42nd Street to Queens) had like 10 people with the homeless person, the adjacent 2 cars were standing room only. I actually chose to get off and take the next train.

Pete F April 27, 2011 - 7:53 pm

Anybody familiar with Edmund G. Love’s Subways Are For Sleeping from 1962?


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