Subway Airspace

If you have lived or even been in New York City for a few days, you have probably heard, "stand clear of the closing doors please."  Yes the sound of an automated robotic sounding voice urging people to get the hell out of the way of the doors as they close on your foot, hand, jacket or backpack.  But what happens once you're in?  Are you one of hundreds of human sardines, crammed into the car gasping for a breath of fresh air, or are you lucky enough to capture an end seat with a seat in between you and the person next to you?  Honestly, most times I find myself somewhere in the middle. 

Since I'm an able bodied young gentleman, I usually pass on sitting down in the train, especially if I don't have too far to travel.  Most times I can get a standing spot against one of the closed doors, and having lived here for over seven years, I know which side is the "weak side," the side the doors open the least.  So I can most times travel over a dozen stops without having to move, but for whatever reason as of late, my strategy has backfired.  The train car will be relatively empty, I'll get my spot leaning lightly on the door where I can peacefully listen to my music, and maybe get in a few games of Candy Crush.  Then the inevitable senselessness happens... A small group of folks will step on to the car and as I'm minding my business, I'm met face to face with the back of someone's head, or worse, directly face to face.  But wait, there is hardly anyone in this car and tons of standing room, light-years away from another soul, and yet this individual decides that standing inches from my face is the perfect place to be??  Really?  Do I look that inviting?

 No one to the left, and actually a few open seats . . .

No one to the left, and actually a few open seats . . .

 No one to the right and a whole mess of open seats . . .

No one to the right and a whole mess of open seats . . .

 Ahhhhh, perfect spot.  Directly in front of me, literally six inches away from my face.

Ahhhhh, perfect spot.  Directly in front of me, literally six inches away from my face.

This situation repeatedly perplexes me, since even in a packed subway car, I manage to figure out a way to not encroach on someone's personal space or make someone feel unnecessarily uncomfortable.  In some cases, if someone plants themselves directly in front of me I will push my way by and find one of the four dozen open areas with no one within an arm's length of me and shake my head.  My question is, what compels someone to do this?  Millions of people scurrying around this city, and on a subway, the first impulse is to be right on top of someone else?!  I'm shaking my head while typing this, so I'll stop.