There are a few things all New Yorkers can agree on. Tourists walk too slowly. That’s one. We have the best pizza, and any politician that eats it with a fork and knife can get lost. That’s another. The slush off the curb is always a puddle and it will be deeper than you think. That’s true. But there’s one statement in particular that can truly unite a group of New Yorkers. When it comes up at parties, people groan in recognition. We are all scarred by it. We all have a story to share. So what is it that bonds us? The fact that it is entirely unacceptable to eat on the subway. This is not a point to be discussed. There is only one correct viewpoint. This is not a rule to be tested. That “open-mindedness” New Yorkers are known for does not apply here. Do. Not. Eat. Your. Gross. Food. On. The. Subway.
But I’m starving, you say. Well, you should have thought about that before you got on the A train. But it’s only a granola bar, you say. Right, with crumbs and a loud wrapper. Okay, but what about apple slices in a Ziploc? you ask. Oh, so you want to expose your cut apple slices to the sneezing toddler and the briefcase-carrying mouth-breather sitting on either side of you? Be my guest.
But there’s something even worse than merely eating on the subway: eating yogurt. Yes, yogurt. That innocuous breakfast staple morphs into a clumpy dairy nightmare with the potential to become even more horrible when it inevitably ends up spilling or, even worse, being flung onto one’s unsuspecting lap when the train lurches. Because the train will lurch. Especially when you’re scarfing up your skyr, thinking you’re immune to the whims of the MTA trackwork because you’re daintily eating from a container of fancy $5 Icelandic sour milk product. You are not immune. And the Chelsea-bound art gallery intern you spill it on will likely remind you of that when you ruin the silk blouse she spent her last paycheck on and she screams this at you. And everyone else on the train will collectively roll their eyes and nod in solidarity.
Aside from the potential for spillage, the act of eating yogurt on the subway is a disgusting visual. Have you pictured it? There you are, sitting bleary-eyed in the fluorescent light of the subway, absent-mindedly scooping white glop into your gaping maw. I wrote that out and my stomach turned a little. A little bit might crust in the corner of your mouth. And it’s possible you’ll take the spoon out of your mouth, turn it upside down, and lick the inside. Ugh. Fluorescent light doesn’t do anyone any favors, anyway, and it certainly doesn’t do anything good for someone who has yogurt on her face, slobbering on a utensil.
But even more than that, have you ever heard someone eat yogurt on the subway? Somehow the sucking sound of a spoon pulling out of Yoplait is magnified in a train car, managing to penetrate one’s headphones even if the volume is turned all the way up on one’s 112th straight listen of Lemonade. Not only that but there’s the cacophony of a scrape of the spoon on plastic, the scratch of a spoon against a foil cover, the clang of a spoon against teeth. And please don’t get me started on the squelch of yogurt in someone’s mouth. Because people will, for whatever reason, chew yogurt. (Why do you chew yogurt?!)
Why would you subject your fellow humans to such a sensory assault? New York has more than enough of that to go around. Save your yogurt for your desk breakfast. Save it for the comfort of your own home. Save it so we have one less thing to worry about when we get on the subway. We already have to consider the possibility that someone will unleash a box of crickets and worms on the D train at rush hour.