Lesson 1: How to get a seat.

I was heading home with a friend one evening on the “E” train. She tells me that she never has any luck getting a seat and that I am a lucky charm for her when we ride the train together. The “E” train can get very crowded especially during rush hour but I’ve been able (for the most part) to get a seat. The trick is to know when people will get off and who those people are. For instance, the “E” train stops at 34th Street where you can catch LIRR and Amtrack. The “E” also stops at 42nd Street, Port Authority. Majority of the passengers will get off at 34th Street. You just have to look out for the Long Islanders. They’re usually in suits or dressed in business attire. Of course, not all people who get off at 34th Street take LIRR but from what I have noticed in my years of commuting, that seems to be my consensus.

At 42nd Street the “E”usually takes on more passengers then lets them off. Those who are getting off are usually tourists and you can spot those pretty easily. Besides having the words “Tourists” stamped to their forehead, you can tell from the cameras hanging off their necks, or the fanny backs or backpacks they are carrying, or speak with some mid-western accent (so full of excitement to be in Times Square). And then there are people carrying luggage who are trying to catch their bus to some destination at Port Authority.

Once you spot these people, you should position yourself in such a way that will allow the seated passenger to get up and get off the train with little effort on your part to guard it from other would be seat takers. Trust me, you are not the only one who realized that person was going to get off the train. Never stand in the way of someone who is trying to get off when taking their seat because you are essentially blocking yourself from taking the seat. You can kiss that seat “goodbye”. It’s best to stand off to the side of the seat passenger that way they have a direct route to the nearest door. You are essentially providing them a path to exit and securing your ass with a seat.

Should you be traveling with a friend, you will have to take the lead in obtaining seats for the both of you unless your friend is commuter savvy. The above scenario applies here as well but as I mentioned, you will have to take the lead in obtaining a seat first if you are not able to obtain seats for you and your friend.

So my friend and I were standing in the crowded car and talking. I noticed a seat freed up at 23rd Street and the man standing in front of the empty seat did not take and nobody else seemed to notice so I told my friend to sit down. The strategy here was for my friend to secure a seat for herself because the next stop was 34th Street. My friend is not one to create any unnecessary confrontation even though she is polite, she didn’t want to sit down. I told her to take the seat but she refused. It was a simple seat and she could have gotten to it had she said, “Excuse me.” But she didn’t even want to do that. Well, the seat was eventually taken as I suspected.

At 34th Street, a large and hefty man sitting in front of me got off the train and I sat down. There was enough room for one other person so I told my friend to sit down. Again, she refused. She didn’t think there was enough room. I told her to sit down again. And again, she refused, so I pulled her down because from the corner of my eye, I saw a big woman coming towards me looking at the empty seat next to me. Once my friend sat down, I whispered in her ears that, “I didn’t want a fat woman to sit down next to me.” Even though she knew I was telling a truth, she laughed.

Now, getting a seat from the platform is a hit or a miss. Depending on where you are along the train route you will get a seat easily or you won’t get a seat. However, if you get on and off at the same station daily, you need to position yourself along the platform where the train will stop and you’re standing almost in front of the doors. I say “almost in front of the doors” because just like trying to get a seat from a seated passenger, you don’t want to get in the way of the passengers trying to get off.  Stand off to the side that way as soon as the last passenger exits, you dash in and target an empty if there is one that your eyes lock onto – move fast, because like I said earlier you are not the only one who wants a seat or sees the available seat.

When sitting down, don’t throw yourself into the seat.  You’ve got it.  Just sit down without disturbing your seated neighbor.


  1. Spot a potential passenger who will get off the train.
  2. Do not stand directly in front of the passenger who is about to get off the train.
  3.  Provide an unobstructed path for the seated passenger to exit the nearest door, which secures your ass with a seat.
  4. Sit down gently.

~ by thedailycommuter on Sunday, January 13, 2008.

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