A Jersey Girl’s Commuter Survival Guide

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This November marked two years at my current job – which also marked two years of commuting, Monday through Friday, into New York City. While I could honestly write a book about all the things I’ve seen, I thought today (while someone hacked on the PATH *bleh*) that a survival guide would be much more appropriate.

So here you have some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned the past two years during my (roundtrip) 3-hour commute every day:

  1. Don’t text and walk. No, seriously – I don’t care if you’re lost. It will result in crushed toes, muttered curses, and potentially a scar that will last forever. And everyone will hate you – including the crossing guards. (Okay the scar may or may not have happened at a Target back in Jersey, but that’s a whole other blog post.) But seriously, just don’t do it.
  2. Please, please, please – if you DO have to stop, step to the side of the flow of traffic. Nobody wants to walk face first into your back, I can promise you that.
  3. While getting off the train, follow the pregnant lady. Always! Everyone will always step out the way for her. And if you’re on the train already, don’t forget to give her your seat. Also always. 😉
  4. Give people the benefit of the doubt: they are generally kinder than you think. While I’ve seen my fair share of rude comments being exchanged on the train, I’ve also seen countless people offering up their seats. I’ve seen people helping other people pick up things that they’ve dropped. I’ve seen people playing with babies, and complimenting the person next to them. Kindness is actually all around.
  5. When taking the PATH, look up. You’ll be informed of the latest news, and you’ll learn words like “cock-a-hoop” (which is an adjective that means “extremely and obviously pleased, especially about a triumph or success”… seriously. Check Google.) And if you keep watching, you’ll even get to see your horoscope for the day. (I somehow always either fall asleep or look away just as “Aries” flashes by on the screen and miss it -_- but do as I say, not as I do!)
  6. When someone coughs, don’t glare. Because when you’re sick in two weeks and coughing and blowing your nose and wondering why you’re even going to work, they’re all going to be glaring at you. And you’re not going to like it very much. (I’ll admit – I’ve been the glarer and the glaree. Now I just laugh it off. Whatever – people get sick. Just DON’T SNEEZE IN YOUR HANDS AND GRAB THE POLES FOR BALANCE. I beg of you and so do the thousands of other people who commute everyday.)
  7. Invest in some serious winter gear. Winter in NYC is no joke. Except this year’s winter… because as I’m writing this it’s almost 50 degrees in December. And I’m still wearing my fall coat. (Note: I am not complaining. At all. Even though I spent $200 on the best down coat ever last year – I still stand by my purchase.) Regardless, you will never be comfortable on the train, ever – because no matter how many layers you do or don’t wear, it’s just an unwritten law. ‘No person shall be comfortable commuting, ever,’ said the Commuting Gods.
  8. Make the most of your time. Most people don’t have the privilege to sit for an hour and a half one way to work. Yes, I said privilege. Use this time for you. Read a book. Daydream. Listen to your favorite album. Sleep. Whatever it is, make this time you time.
  9. Be aware. Of course, this is hard when you’re sleeping – and this is also coming from the girl who wound up in the PATH graveyard one night because she didn’t hear “LAST STOP, THIS IS THE LAST STOP.” But like I said, do as I say, not as I do 😉 I learned my lesson.
  10. And last but not least…smile more! Commuting can be dreadful, trust me – I know. When service is completely suspended and they tell you that the express train you thought you caught is actually now a local train – I challenge you to smile. At the person next to you, or to the one in front of you, or even just at yourself. It will make all the difference. And before you know it, you’ll be wherever you need to be.

Till next time xo

Ashley, Two-Years Strong