Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Field Guide to Commuters

The blog is catching on my friends. I recently got asked to write a "fun" column about commuting for Westchester magazine, which is good news for me and my ambitions to retire on the profits of my commuting demise. Unfortunately, its bad news for you, my loyal readers, because it means I spent this week writing for them instead of you. So in lieu of my regular bitch-fest, I'm simply going to post the article here. It's not as bitingly sarcastic and profanity laced as my usual column, and I left out any juicy personal details about hygene and scatological habits, but it has its moments. What can I say. When you whore yourself out to the mainstream media establishment, you just can't talk about poop. That said, I promise to be back to my abnormal self next week. Oh, and why am I wearing a UPS baseball hat? Because it was on the effing free table at work, OK. Happy Thanksgiving!

John's Field Guide to Metro North Commuters

by John Korpics

I ride the train a lot. Two hours a day, 5 days a week for the last 12 years (and counting). So in the interest of science, and as a way to pass all that time, I have compiled this handy guide to a wide variety of commuter species. The next time you ride the train, take this along and see how many you can spot...

Schoolcutticus juvenalius
A high school student who cuts school to go into the city with their buddies, usually for a Yankees day game, a Yankees parade, a Yankees pep rally, or St. Patrick's Day, all of which involve underage drinking. These riders are not hard to spot. They wear authentic team jerseys and Uggs, nervously pool their spare change in order to pay the extra peak rate tickets that they didn't buy, and then spend the entire trip talking about which direction is best to walk when they leave Grand Central station.
Distinguishing Characteristics: Pimples

Americangirlicus parentus
A parent with a daughter who is carrying a doll dressed just like her, both of whom have hair appointments, followed by a reservation for high tea and a musical variety show, all at the American Girl store. There are so many things wrong with that sentence that I can't begin to list them. Seen mostly on elementary school staff development days.
Distinguishing Characteristics: A profound look of disbelief that says "is this really what my life has become"?

Cellphonica obnoxious
A person who's need to make small talk on the phone super-cedes your need for sanity. I was looking through some old drawings of medieval torture techniques the other day (like you've never done that) and I came across one that was particularly disturbing. It showed a man whose arms and legs had been pulled off by horses, his eyes had been gouged out, and someone was laughing while pouring hot liquid into his disemboweled stomach. Now imagine the guy laughing and pouring the liquid is me, and that one of the severed arms is holding a cell phone...
Distinguishing Characteristics: Look carefully for the numbers 666 somewhere just beneath the hairline.
Warning: This rider can be dangerous if antagonized with a sarcastic comment (trust me).
Overheard phrases can include: "Nothing, what are you doing?" and "I am so bored".

Fosters twofisticus
A commuter who boards the evening train with two (yes two) 22 ounce, motor oil sized cans of Foster's beer. 44 ounces of beer of beer for a 45 minute train ride. If he drinks an ounce a minute, he still has an extra minute to pee! Subject has also been observed spilling various snack foods on his lap and not caring. Have you ever seen that scene in North by Northwest where Cary Grant orders a Gibson in the dining car of the train and then charms the pants off of Eva Marie Saint? This is the complete opposite of that.
Distinguishing Characteristics: Untied tie, un-tucked shirt, sits near the bathroom.

Newspaperus scavengerus
The person who climbs into the metal trash bins on the Grand Central terminal platforms to get a free discarded newspaper. That's right, he's sticking it to all the fat cats at the New York Times who are drunk on newspaper profits! The M.T.A. trash police have mounted an 18 inch high metal barrier atop the bins to deter this behavior, kind of like how campsites try to keep bears from getting into dumpsters, but he is tenacious and can usually mount the bin and reach in for his prize. Bravo sir. If someone is willing to go to this much trouble to save $1.50, I'm afraid the newspaper industry really is doomed.
Distinguishing Characteristics: Long arms, no sense of shame.

Twoseated booby
A person who spreads their stuff out over two seats, and then pretends to be asleep when new riders get on.

Snoring droolapotomus

He sleeps. He snores. He drools. Hat trick!

Checkered flagosaurus

A person so terrified of having to wait in line, that he is always the first person out the train door, into his car and out of the parking lot, thereby shaving precious seconds off the end of his commute while also (bonus points!) risking countless lives as he speeds through the parking lot.

Marthastewart wannabeetles
A person who knits, crochets, sews or does some other generally crafty thing on the train. Look for the tell tale L.L.Bean canvas bag full of crap.

Please feel free to respond to the blog with your own additions. When we get to a hundred I'll make up an official list and post it. Thanks!


  1. You crack me up, Korpics.

    North by Northwest!

  2. Hey, nice blog. Just found it today. I'm following now. I've been blogging about my commute on Metro North for a few months now. So many wonderful stories :D

  3. Here's a species for you:


    This is a person who, for whatever reason, (probably boredom), sits quietly tapping away on his laptop, scanning his fellow communters for inconsiderate behavior, poor clothing choices, peculiar eating and drinking habits, and general weirdness.
    Distinguishing characteristics:
    Snaps iPhone photos at strangers, glances secretively around the train car and has a 2 lb. bag of gummi bears on his lap....
    Warning: If you interact with this species, you may be the subject of his next blog.....

  4. John,
    This is the best laugh I've had in a long time.
    Bravo...and thanks
    I just sent Jeff the link

  5. How about this one:

    Stinkaloticus Nondeodorantus:

    This pungent commuter is typically a male manual laborer and has not praticed a shred of personal hygiene in days, weeks and sometimes months. This subject is painfully oblivious to the fact that there are other commuters onboard who have a sense of smell, and does not hesitate to raise his arm to grab the straphandle while unleashing a waft of stench in your face that can only be compared to a combination of bum urine, dried vomit and the smell of hot steaming garbage at the Fulton Fish Market.

    Distinguising Characteristics:
    Grubby beard stubble, armpit stained shirt, food scraps embedded in front teeth, breath that could halt a charging rhinoceros and hair so greasy you could perform a lube job on a Hummer if you wrung it out.

    Word of Caution: Do all possible to avoid close contact should the subject release a belch, as it may result in eyebrow singeing.

    -Craig Walsh