People in New York City, particularly Penn Station and Time Squares are in such a self-important rush to get where they are going. I say this as a born and raised New Yorker who has commuted into the city for work for 10 years and traveled for fun into the city my whole life. I am a true New Yorker and I was appalled recently at the apathetic rush of people during the morning rush hour commute.
As I write this I am 9 months pregnant. I recently commuted to my office, taking the Long Island Rail Road Train to Penn Station. The train drops passengers off in the bowels of the underground so we all walk out the doors and line up to a long flight of stairs to the station concourse. My belly is huge and my waddle is prominent. Did anyone allow me a courtesy right-of-way? No.
Next I'm walking up the stairs slowly because I am 35 pounds heavier than normal and wary. I'm holding the railing and being deliberate. I hear loud sighs as the fast stair climbers cut ahead of me.
Next I walk through the crowded concourse to the subway platform to take the 1 train. I stand behind the yellow safety line, leaning against the wall. I don't want to slip and fall on the tracks!. As the time passes, people walk by and bump me as they pass the narrow opening to my left. No one pauses or even flinches. In time, people stop and wait directly in front of me. Even though I was one of the first to the empty platform, if the train comes and there are two rows in front of me I won't get on the train. I start to panic because I cannot stand much longer. My ankles are getting thick from gravity pulling my increased water weight.
The train comes and I manage to position myself so I make it onto the train. I'm standing and getting crushed up against the pole but I grateful to be on the train. I protect my belly with my arm. No one offers a seat or gives me any extra space. We go uptown one stop to Times Square and I say "getting off" and try to squeeze through narrowing spaces out the door. I walk up the stairs to the subway concourse and across a huge opening to the tiny exit by the 42nd Street shuttle. I'm walking slightly slower than the streams of other commuters and they are whizzing by me.
I walk up the narrow one-lane stairs to exit to the surface. People are groaning behind me and a hipster squeezes to my right. "Excuse me" she says as she cuts in front and runs ahead. I get to the surface and again walk to my office, trying not to get hit by faster people walking by me. I'm angry at humanity by this point.
Are people deliberately being rude and pushy to me, a visibly 9 month pregnant woman? No, not really. Most people in these scenes are just completely oblivious. They are in their own world, listening to a podcast or music and not actually present in the moment. They don't see me and my pregnant state. They half-see a slow person in their way and rush by without a conscious thought. They don't actually look and assess the situation. They aren't actually thinking through the scene in front of them.
I find this both sad and dangerous. Crowds of people with their mind elsewhere, missing huge details. Throngs of commuters without kindness and courtesy, just trying to get to their destination rather than interacting and helping others. Everyone in such a rush to get to work and not experiencing the travel time.
I used to be one of those people. I probably cut off a ton of people who needed a little of my patience. I probably could have taken a courteous moment to let someone go first or hold the door while I wait an extra 15 seconds. Being present and mindful could actually bring a kind moment to someone who needs it. That's the kind of person I want to be. I don't care if I get to work 5 minutes later. It's worth it.