Shannon Holly

Shannon’s Commuting Chronicles: Stories from the NYC Subway That Smell Like the City

October 8, 2018

My daily commute is predictably unpredictable. I do the same thing everyday, and I do it at the exact same time.  It’s what I see on the ride that makes me wonder if there’s a hidden camera somewhere. This past Friday on the subway I watched a twenty-something in super-unstable high heels choose the shoulder-to-shoulder standing room only 1-train Downtown as the place where she would curl her eyelashes. Now, any woman who has ever used an eyelash curler learns very quickly that if you jerk your curling hand, even the slightest bit, it will send you to the stars and back.  Each lash is seemingly bound by at least a trillion nerve-endings that will show no mercy if they’re tested. Yet, this commuter thought nothing of holding a subway pole for balance with one hand, and clamping her lashes with a drug store eyelash curler with the other.  All of this while the conductor pumps the breaks randomly and slams on them for each stop. 

The day before that I saw a real life Subway Sniffer.  Yep, I watched a 60 something year old man walk up to unknowing women, stick his beak in the nape of their unknowing necks and sniff. There was no touching...just the gross, obvious nostril-flaring, eyes closed sniffing of womens’ hair. By the time I realized this was really happening there was no time to blow the whistle on him. The ladies were at their stop, got off and went on with their day.  Then I thought, its probably better that way. Do they really need or want to know that they were sniffed?

Also, there's this guy.

I can’t tell you why the NYC Subway is such a magnet for strange moments, but it IS a reality show where the stars are not getting paid enough.

Still, almost every commuter has their head buried in their phone and earbuds plugging their ears disarming them of their two most important senses. You should be aware down there or you’re not only missing the show, you’re quite possibly getting sniffed.