You've done it. You've passed the point of no return. You made eye contact with the person standing across from you not only once, not only twice, but THREE inexcusable times. It's over, right? You should just change your name, move to Antarctica and live among the polar bears.
WRONG. Don't pack your snow shoes just yet. This is one of many unpleasant interactions you will positively encounter when traveling via subway in New York City and all of them can be resolved (with the help of New Girl GIFs).
The Triple Eye ContactWe're starting off this Unfortunate Subway Interactions series with a basic, everyday subway embarrassment. If you have traveled by this underground means of transportation before, you will already know that the game of finding a place to look while going about your ride is not only difficult, it's downright impossible. No matter how hard you try, there will come a time when you accidentally make eye contact with someone.
The first time, you'll both probably look away instantly, embarrassed that you were caught looking at another human being. It is an unspoken code of the NYC subway system that you don't look at anyone, ever.
The second time you lock eyes with the same individual, the awkwardness has escalated tremendously and your gaze may linger on their's a second longer as you give a sympathetic smile that says "I am an absolute idiot and a horrible New Yorker. Please forgive me and go about your day." Then you'll immediately look away once more.
If you make the unforgivable third eye contact, (as I did on the subway yesterday) you will find yourself grimacing in their direction, mad at both yourself for making contact again and at the other person for continuing to make contact with you as well. At this point, you should just turn around and face the other direction.
So, how do you avoid this?
"Oh, I know! I'll just stare straight ahead of me!" This is a rookie move, my friend. Without a doubt, there will be a fellow rider standing directly across from you no matter where you're standing (especially during rush hour traffic when everyone is packed like sardines). This person will think you are hardcore staring into their soul, and that makes the ride a little less comfortable for everyone involved. As humans, we are naturals at being easily distracted, so even if you've found that one spot on the wall across from you where nobody is standing, you will still make eye contact with another individual if anyone moves, falls over, coughs, sings, chants or snores.
"Okay, then. I'll stare up at the ceiling!" If you're not worried about people thinking you are an absolute lunatic, then feel free to use this suggestion. However, I have personally tried this method myself and thought I had a broken neck for the rest of the day. You've been warned.
"Fine. I'll stare at the ground." For my fellow ladies with long hair, if you don't have it tied back somehow, your hair will fall in front of your face and you will look like the creature from The Ring. I have also found that the people around you think you are staring at their feet and will glare at you as they shuffle around and try to escape your downwards gaze. Again, as long as you don't care what people think (which you shouldn't, most of them are self-absorbed New Yorkers) and aren't afraid of being hated by everyone standing near you with deformed feet, feel free to use this method.
"Can I at least read the advertisements?" Yes! This may seem like a simple solution, but this method actually requires strategic planning. There aren't going to be many advertisements in your eye range, especially on a train during rush hour. So, your plan of attack is to pretend that you are the slowest reader in all of human existence. Stare at a single advertisement for at least five minutes before moving onto the next one. This way, you will keep yourself occupied and won't be tempted to make awkward eye contact with others.
Whatever you do, avoid letting them talk to you at all costs. Sometimes when you make awkward eye contact, people see this as an invitation to communicate verbally with you. If they start to ramble to you on the subway...well, that's another unfortunate subway interaction altogether (to be continued).
If all else fails, just do what I do and bring a book. I'm usually so invested in the story that I almost miss my subway stop. #Casual.
Until next time,