Home > architecture, NY, public, travel > down with rude behavior!

down with rude behavior!

today as i ascended from the bowels of Penn Station, i was greeted with the welcoming stench of stale urine for the second day in a row (the staircase of track 16 as it meets the main concourse).  aside from my vehement distaste for Penn Station and my continuing desire to see it demolished, this brought back not just a memory from this past weekend, but also an aggravation with public behavior in NY.

this past saturday evening, my lady and i were about the town.  we were on our way from midtown to the west village when we were visually assaulted by such a lack of taste and morality that i was beyond baffled.  we were transferring subways, i think from the 7 to the 2 at times square or from the 2 to the 1 at 14th street – it really doesn't matter.  we were waiting for the train with quite a full platform, and watched in horror as a woman traveling with her 3 young children had to make a difficult decision: go back upstairs and lose her subway fare or have her youngest child pee his pants.  but she thought outside the box – she took her kid to the edge of the platform, at the end so he was hidden from view by nearly everyone (except us and a young couple trying to get busy), and let her kid pee onto the tracks.  luckily his stream wasn't strong enough to hit the third rail.

i was so disgusted by this lack of respect for public space that i started looking for a cop.  i didn't find one and am kind of happy that i didn't.  honestly, she was in kind of a bad spot and there wasn't really much choice for her.  2 things come of this, though:

  1. her children are taught that public space is worthless and is available for debasement without retribution.   they will grow up thinking it is ok to pee on buildings, throw trash on the street, and deface property.
  2. we can recognize (as i've unhappily grown to accept) that the NYC subway system is in woeful disrepair and horribly out of date.  the fact that we don't have public restrooms in major subway stations reflects poorly on NYC's outlook on its responsibility to the public good.  the lack of public restrooms is being addressed slowly – Grimshaw has designed a major addition to the public domain in the form of freestanding public restrooms, bus stops, and magazine kiosks.  the horrible state in which our subways lie is a different story, though.


Categories: architecture, NY, public, travel
  1. April 22, 2006 at 7:17 am

    Dear sir,

    As I read through your blog, similar scenes flashed across my eyes. We have these kind of incidents happening in India on a day to day basis, but nobody seems to be bothered about the whole issue. Nobody even seems to consider it as an ‘issue’ at all.

    It troubles me more, when I see educated, urban society not only turning a blind eye, but also encouraging their children to do the same: You can urinate on roads (men in India consider it to be their birth right), spit paan (chewed beetle leaf) in bulildings and I have even seen a guy who gargled and spat on the middle of the road, while waiting for trafffic signal!

    Most of the time I make sure I throw unwanted stuff in the dust bin, if a dustbin is not around I either look for one or bring it home and chuck it in the bin. I beleive in a chain reaction, a few of my friends have ‘consciously’ or ‘unconsciously’ following this pattern. The first thing I teach kids around me is to be clean and keep their suroundings clean. Hope, this fire spreads from one to another…

    Samyuktha Raman, Banglaore, India.

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