An Open Letter to the Pushy Guy on the Metro

To the pushy, middle-aged guy on the metro:

Please sir.  It pains me to see you standing there on the escalator — on the left, mind you — while dozens of people crowd up behind you, too polite and too shy to ask you to “step aside” or “make room” so they can pass, but nonetheless wondering why you insist on standing in their way, in my way, in everyone’s way. 

And I’m irritated, too.  Perhaps because the elevators here move so slowly.  May be I wouldn’t mind if we were in Eastern Europe, where the escalators often move at the speed of sound.  But here, where the designers and officials and architects had some semblance of Western-minded safety in mind when they set these escalators to run at a more, ahem, tort-minded pace.  I bet they figured that some people would walk up on the left, too… but I bet they didn’t count on you.

And perhaps I mind because I know that this escalator is only the first of four, as we ride all the way to the surface.  Did you know that this line is one of the deepest in the city?  They dug down to the old lake bed, to the bedrock of the foothills of the western mountains.  Just so we could be safe.  When they thought of putting in these escalators, I bet that thought of all of us, too…. but I bet they didn’t count on you.

And perhaps I mind because, from where I stand, I can see that smug look of benign ignorance and content on your face.  Content at being the first on the escalator.  Doesn’t it feel nice to have everyone riding behind you?  You can be the first to step on, the first to step off, and — hey! if you hurry — the first to turn the corner and step onto the next one.

But I think the real reason that I mind is that this isn’t the first time I’ve seen you.  Oh, no!  I saw you back on the platform at Tacubaya pushing and shoving your way aboard.  I saw you stick your elbow out, shoving back aside the doors and delaying the entire train so you could slip in to this already-packed sardine car, and nearly knocking down that tiny woman selling chiclets.  You looked like you were in quite a hurry.  I had pity for you, then.  I thought that may be you were running late for work (hey, just like me!), that may be you urgently needed to go to the pharmacist to pick up your medication.

And then I saw you here, just as we were pulling up to the station, angling and squirming and pushing to be next to the car doors so that you could be first out when they opened.  And, wow — did you shoot out!   Like a bullet you took off, out of the doors, around the corner, and down the corridor towards the escalators.  Not walking, not even a brisk pace — you ran!  I must say, I still felt pity for you then.  Perhaps you’re a courier, rushing to collect some urgent correspondence, or perhaps even a doctor, with an appointment to deliver an impatient baby.

But then, just as you reached that first escalator, the first in line into the first bottleneck that all of us must face…. you stopped.  You stopped running.  You slowed to a walk, then a step, then a complete stop… just as your foot reached the lowest moving stair.  And there you stand now, slowly waiting your way to the top.  You’re not in such a hurry anymore.  All that running and rushing and pushiness?  Gone, as if it melted away, as if you have neither a care nor a concern in the world.  Never minding that all of the rest of us… all of us in our own hurries to get to our own destinations and our own daily tasks, and that poor woman you shoved with your elbow, are all standing behind you.  Never minding that, were you to just step aside, to shift your bag, oh — but about a foot! — that we could pass by without any hindrance to you or to us.  

But now I know better.  Now I know that you faked it all.  You faked the need and the rush and the bother.  Just so you could be the first to ride up these escalators.  Was it worth it?  Do you know that we’re all waiting?  Do you know and just not care?  Do you do it on purpose?  Or are you really just blissfully unaware?

And so I hope that, whenever it is that you arrive where you’re going, you take the time to sit down at a computer.  And that, for some blinding coincidence, a thought enters your mind to search the internet for escalators and the Metro and etiquette.  And that, perhaps by some God-granted chance, you stumble upon this note that I wrote for you on behalf of myself, the lady selling chiclets, and everyone else on this escalator… so that you might read it and understand that I still have pity for you.


Metro Barranca del Muerto, México, D.F.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: