Step 1. Check for deviations online before you leave the house. If you don’t, you might find yourself stranded at 11 p.m. with no idea how to get home. WARNING: There is always the added thrill of wondering whether or not the website has been updated accurately. Sometimes, NYC transportation gets a sick thrill from canceling the R, M and E lines on the same night without telling you.
Step 1 ½. Have a water bottle handy. If trains are delayed, you might be stuck on the platform for a while with stale air and 1000+ degree weather. No one wants you to faint and fall onto the tracks. It will make everyone else late to work.
Step 2. Don’t scream when you see a rat waddle by. Get over it.
Step 3. Try to get a seat. If not, kindly do not lean against the pole so no one else can use it to stabilize themselves. And if you are on a bench and there is only one other person, don’t try to sit right next to her. (It is unspoken protocol to sit in the farthest available seat. Don’t be the one to break it.)
Step 4. Pretend no one else is on the train, but subtly watch everyone. This is best accomplished with sunglasses. The whole “You can’t see me but I can see you” works. With glasses, you can judge the styles in front of you, shudder at the sweaty PDA and checkout the suits without appearing to be a creep. (But in all honesty, sometimes it’s fun to weird out your fellow travelers. It livens the ride to work.) If you forget your shades, practice your “indifferent” look. Relaxed face, no smile, eyes unfocused. Easiest achieved if you have an iPod.
Step 5. Stay awake. You really don’t want to wake up at Prince Street when you meant to get out two stops earlier at Union Square. Trust me.