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Annoying Things People Do on the Subway or the Bus

I actually don’t mind taking public transportation.

I know some people think it’s demeaning, degrading and/or only for people who can’t afford a car, but none of that is true, and I like taking the subway most of the time.

(Did it up until the age of 25 when I got a car only for work; then donated said car to charity and went back to the bus!)

Reasons why I enjoy public transportation:

  1. No need to think about driving — you just sit/stand there, stare blankly off into the distance & wait
  2. You get to see interesting things / people / ads (I get a lot of fashion inspiration, believe it or not)
  3. No traffic to deal with — I think that during rush hour, I can get home in the same time or faster
  4. It’s cheaper — $5.30 barely covers the cost of parking for an hour ($3 per half hour) let alone gas!
  5. Don’t need to find a parking spot or wander around in a circle looking for one for 15 minutes
  6. No limits on how long I can be out — “OMG is this half hour going to cost me ANOTHER $3?!?
  7. Can wander and go anywhere I want without having to trudge back to my car
  8. I get a lot of thinking done when my brain is not active, which also helps me make ‘To Do’ lists

Of course there are times when I wish I had a car, such as late at night coming back from a friend’s place, but those occasions are fairly rare.

(Yes, this is exactly why I keep bugging all of you to eat earlier and meet me earlier than is normal for a non-senior citizen.)

… but some days, you get really annoyed with people who don’t know how to respect others who have paid the same fare and are using the same system.


So this is my Public Service Announcement (PSA) to anyone who takes the subway, bus or streetcar:


Headphones in? Check.

Humming, rapping, or singing off-key to a song that NO ONE ELSE CAN HEAR? Check.


You suck. Most people SUCK at singing and you are one of them.

(…and if you don’t suck at singing, you should find a stage to sing on, but please don’t torture the rest of us who don’t have headphones and/or your music to listen to, neither of which are appealing options, to be honest.)

WE DO NOT need to hear your rendition of whatever it is you’re singing. I can understand that it’s impulsive, and the music is so loud that you can’t hear anything, but trust me, the looks I’m shooting at you is not because I think you’re the next Christina Aguilera.


Unless you are standing, and you put your items down on the seat instead of sitting down, you are NOT to hog up every seat around you for your purse, bag, or whatever it is.

I don’t even care if you want to pretend like you’re such a tired, worn out student who needs to nap.

Go to bed earlier, or hold your bag in your lap if you’re able to nab a seat.

Once during rush hour, I saw a guy taking up TWO seats. One for his groceries, one for him. An old man gets on with a cane, glares at him the entire time (he managed to get a seat), and then before he leaves the train he says:

That’s all very well and fine isn’t it?

Taking up a spot just for your groceries and being totally disrespectful to others around you?

Can’t you see there are people who would love to sit down?

The idiot has the nerve to reply:

But.. that seat… it’s for my groceries!!!

OMG. He had a straight face on and everything.

I didn’t know whether to laugh at how pathetic that guy was, or to cry at his idiocy. You tell me.

Anyway the point of this whole story is:

A) I’m going to be that person one day, too old and frail to get beaten up for telling people off for their disrespectful behaviour.

B) Don’t put your things on a seat unless you’ve given up that seat to your items unless you want some old woman yelling at you.

So when I see things like this, I say a: HELL. YES!!!!!!



YES. The chicken stands up for the people!

Via Stomp.Com.SG — for those of you who are uneducated in URL lingo, “SG” refers to Singapore, not China. China is “CN”.

And no, Singapore is not located in China. Get yourself a map.


I have names for all of these people.

TAKE OFF your backpacks from your back, or at least move them to the front of your body like a kangaroo so that you can see it annoy people, and back off.

Otherwise, don’t be surprised or angry when your backpack pushes up against me and I give you a shove back the direction you came.

Yes, I am THAT girl.

(No, I was not in that chicken costume, it looks like it could be a guy because it’s a pretty tall chicken.)

I am that rude girl who will push you right back because you didn’t think about all the ways your backpack can annoy someone.

Oh you didn’t think about your backpack annoying people?

Exactly my point — You didn’t think about it.

I know it’s not an extension of your body and you can’t feel it being shoved in our faces or throwing us off balance, but even though it isn’t intentional, deciding to leave it on your back, while on a crowded subway, IS.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you for the next time. You heard it here first.

(And yes, I always pull my bags in front of me out of consideration of others.)


You know who I’m talking about. Pole huggers.

Those irritating folks who either won’t take a seat for whatever reason (yeah it sucks in winter because we’re all dressed like Michelin Rubber Men in our winter gear, taking up one and a half seats).

These pole huggers aren’t strippers, they’re people who HUG THE POLE with their elbows or their crook of the arms and then start playing with their smartphone because they can’t really use their phone without both hands.

Normally, this wouldn’t annoy me, except that during rush hour, you are HOGGING THE ENTIRE POLE when there is NO SPACE for anyone else to stand or sit.

They also can’t seem to wait for 1 – 30 minutes with nothing to do but reflect upon their thoughts, and desperately NEED to be entertained immediately. They can’t even wait until they are able to get off the train, or bus or streetcar to record down whatever it is they’re doing.

They simply MUST do it now, and hug the entire pole, ignoring everyone else around them.

I can’t even get my hand in there to hold the pole because your whole body is wrapped around it like a koala bear, so don’t be surprised when my hand shoots out in front of your face to grab onto the pole before I fall down.



Instead of having headphones, why don’t you go ahead and blast your music (horrible or not, it makes no difference), and pollute the airways of everyone else who is silently, and respectfully doing their own thing?

I mean, no one really cares that your music not only is not to our taste (read: it sucks to everyone who doesn’t want to listen to it), but sounds awful coming out of speakers not meant to play music in open-air.







Yes, I am also talking to you, mom or dad with their precious child holding some very loud, annoying, beeping toy/game!

(And people wonder why I carry earplugs around with me).


I can sympathize with parents who are frustrated have babies crying, who don’t seem to want to stop no matter what they do or say.

No one wants to hear that squealing, especially not the parents who are near their wit’s end.

I feel really bad for those parents trying to shush them, calm them down, or try all the tactics in their parenting book to keep them to a low hum.


But those other parents?

You know which ones I’m talking about.

The ones who have the nerve to say to you:

What am I going to do about it? It’s a kid!!

This is usually followed by an inane laugh or ‘aw shucks’ giggle, and a shrug, with a smile.

Ummm… how about you try keeping them quiet?

The way my parents used to do to me when I threw a fit in public?

I don’t even need you to shush them completely, I just want you to give a damn about other people around you and TRY.

Or they say things like:

It’s their right to make noise, I’m letting them be their own agent to make their own decisions.

Even if that means they want to scream, cry and flail their arms for the whole time.


What kind of New Age book have you been reading, while smoking your wacky tabaccy?

They don’t know any better! They’re young, unformed blobs when they’re kids (just as we all were), and they have NO IDEA what is right, wrong, or socially acceptable.

It is your job as a parent to teach them what society may eventually have to when they get into the world and realize that throwing themselves down on a floor, threatening to hold their breath, kicking and screaming is not going to get them that $10,000 a year raise.

How can it be that there are perfectly well-behaved kids who are polite even as toddlers all around us, and then we have to suffer and endure your little monsters?


Your disgusting, muddy and/or wet, filthy shoes on seats that other people with their clothes have to sit on.

You should not definitely not be wondering why I am staring at you with this look of disgust on my face.

I can even understand a kid doing it without thinking, and then a parent saying to them:

Put your feet down.

You are in a public place, and being rude by putting your dirty shoes up on a seat.

You aren’t at home. Have some respect for others.

Heck, I’m sure my future kids will do that some day, and I’ll say the exact same thing to them.

But anyone who is young or old, should have enough respect to keep their feet DOWN ON THE GROUND where they belong.


Seriously? MOVE BACK. There is more space right up by the back seats, and we all won’t have to cram up in each other’s armpits if you do.

Move. BACK. Especially if you aren’t getting off at the next 2 stops.

I think that about covers it of the top habits I hate.

I can’t believe that people have no idea how to behave on a subway or a bus. Most of the time it isn’t bad.

Actual schedules and service aside, taking public transportation shouldn’t be difficult, annoying, frustrating or filled with inconsiderate, disrespectful folks.

It really is COMMON sense and common courtesy to be respectful of others around you.

Feel free to chime in on what other subway habits you hate.


  • Pauline @ Make Money Your Way

    People who get too close. Personal space…. when you are waiting in line to get in and they get so close, probably thinking it will make the line move faster, they almost step on your feet. Makes me crazy.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      It’s a cultural thing. I noticed that in some countries in Europe, but not in France, England, Canada or the U.S. We have a personal bubble around us and we KNOW we shouldn’t get close to someone (safety issue). In Portugal or Spain however? They’re right up in your space.

  • maz

    Me again.

    Passive parents.

    You have no kids yet so maybe you cannot grasp how difficult it can be to get your child to behave at times. I like to think that my kids are pretty well behave and polite in public however, there are days when you know, well, that your day is gonna be difficult. And that’s the day you have 1 hour ride planned to go across town with kids and baby in tow.

    There are the day when your child gets up cranky and won’t do anything right. He/she’ll cry, throw tantrums when you try to get them dress / comb their hair etc. These days happen and believe me, when you are stuck on a bus with a toddler throwing a full tantrum, it is not easy.

    Sometimes nothing works. And before anyone says that if we can’t control our kids we’re bad parents, let me ask you something: have you ever try to argue / have a conversation with a shouting and hysterical ADULT? Chances are, you did not succeed. I’m not saying you should let your kids run riots and do whatever they want in public spaces, i’m just saying that sometimes, under 3 can be difficult to deal with when they are ill / tired.

    I’ll all fine to say we have to teach them but that’s the whole point: TEACH. And unfortunately, teaching a child manners doesn’t happen overnight. I take time and consistency.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I have taken care of kids under the age of 3, and I know what you mean — you can’t get them to understand anything…. except they don’t seem to throw that kind of fuss with me that they do with their parents (my siblings) because I don’t let them try their crap on me.

      Kids are surprisingly smart. They act differently with each person, and they may not like me as an aunt very much but they do listen to me and obey me more than their parents.

      What I hate the most is parents who don’t even try to get their kids to be under control. I’m talking about an extreme here, where they just let their kids act like monkeys on the seat and run riots in the car without saying a WORD. Not even a single WORD.

      In my day, I would have never imagined doing that, even at 3 (my mom says this), because she would have whacked me blue and red.

      It starts at home and then filters outside, so while they may not be perfect, I cannot accept that parents won’t lift a finger or say anything to get them to stop acting like monkeys outside of the home. It may also be a cultural thing because I’ve noticed the same cultures letting their kids run wild, over and over again.

  • maz

    I live in London and mainly take the tube and the DLR ( overground ). My stop is the first on the line… and I get off at the last stop so yes, I do sit down and occasionally put my bag / grocery etc on the sit next to me… because I can as there’s hardly anyone in the carriage when I start my journey.

    When I see people heading my way, I always remove my bag / grocery bags etc to let them sit down.

    On a couple of occasion though, I was so engrossed in my book that I did not notice anyone coming near me. When people just sit their bum on my stuff, it really really annoys me. I always say to them ” Can’t you just say “excuse me”?”. Why is it so difficult to say “Excuse me”??? I’ve been on the train for the last 45 min, I’ve been reading for the last 45 min with no one coming in my carriage so if you see I’m not looking up, just say “Excuse me”, I’ll say “Oh, I’m sorry” and remove my bag/s. Simply as that.

    We are all human beings. Most of the time, we don’t do things to annoy people but because we are distracted ( not inconsiderate, distracted ).

    Thing is everyone getting on a bus believe they’re entitled to a seat. Never mind the old lady or the pregnant one. Most people very conveniently bury their face in their newspaper as soon as they get on the bus/tube. Believe me, I went through 3 pregnancies and people just don’t see your bump. At all. It annoys them to give up their seat ‘cos you’re just pregnant, not ill right?

    I remember standing with my baby on a sling in the tube on various occasions. People would always comment “oh, he/she’s so cute”. I would just smile and say thank you but in my head I would always think ” yep, he/she’s cute but he/she’s heavy as well. Why don’t you just give up your seat for me”.

    Well, anyway, I’ve been taking the tube/DLR/bus for the last 12 yrs, mainly during hours, with bump & kids in tow and I could just go on and on about people’s behaviour. But maybe it’s got to do with London as a city. Possible the most child UNfriendly city in the world.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      True. I’d at least say: “Pardon me, may I sit there?”

      I always give up my seat for pregnant women or women with little kids they’re carrying. THEY ARE HEAVY. REALLY. REALLY. HEAVY.

      I think London is not that unfriendly per se, I think it’s just the fact that it’s such a big city that everyone is faceless and less known, so people are less likely to be nice. I do agree that your trains are very child unfriendly and tiny. I thank goodness for trains in Canada everyday because they’re so spacious in comparison.

  • Allie

    For me there is nothing worse than hearing a person crack or chew their gum loudly on public transportation (or anywhere for that matter).

  • Tania

    LOL. I used to ride the bus in Honolulu all the time. I’ve had dudes smelling like alcohol who feel asleep and in their sleep put their head on my shoulder. YUCK!

    I have to say in Honolulu the bus drivers are very very nice. It’s something I’ve noticed when I visit other cities that our bus drivers are so helpful and answer people’s questions. It’s a great bus system and easy for tourists to take as well. If you live far away from downtown they have express buses which typically aren’t crowded, only have a few stops and then boom on the freeway, it’s almost like having a friend pick you up.

  • CorianneM

    Blockhead Boomboxers –> you’re forgetting the people who *do* have headphones but are already so deaf and put it so loud, you can *still* hear exactly which song they’re playing.

    Passive Parents –> yes, oh I *hate-hate-hate* them. I always think, these kids will probably grow up to be the most annoying, monstrous teenagers ever – these parents will some day be confronted with how they raised their kids, I’m sure of it.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      OH YES. Thank you for pointing out those people who put on headphones that don’t do jack squat.

      I am all right with parents who are trying their best. I am NOT OKAY with parents not doing anything to calm them down, or even try to make an effort to do so.

  • Ben@ThisHealthyBudget

    NYCer here and former DC resident (I’ve been taking the subway/metro for the last 25 years). The most annoying one for me is definitely the last one. I take the 7 train here and on a daily basis am saying “move in please!” when I board because everyone crowds the doors when there is a ton of space in the middle of the car.

    The other one which is more applicable to DC is standing on the right and walking on the left on the escalator. Without fail, every time you get on an escalator there is some dope standing on the left, not allowing people to walk. Before you know it, the entire subway car is waiting at the bottom of the stairs to get on the escalator because of the backup.

    One final one – teenagers who decide it’s acceptable to scream, wrestle and use the subway as a playground.

    • Tania

      @Ben@ThisHealthyBudget: Used to travel a ton for business to different US cities and I think that allow people to pass on the left on an escalator (or airport moving walkway) is pretty standard in most cities. I usually do a quick and friendly, excuse me please!

      The one place this is not standard is in Honolulu. We wouldn’t pass someone on an escalator, it’d be considered very rude.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      I agree with people NOT MOVING TO THE MIDDLE. It drives me nuts and sometimes I just push my way through until I stand in the middle, with lots of space around me. Something about doors, attracts people to crowd around them…

      What I also hate is that escalator backup you mentioned, or when people get off the escalator AND THEN STOP!! … KEEP MOVING GODDAMNIT. Sometimes I admit to being rude and pushing them gently out of the way, because it’s like they think the whole world revolves around them and they don’t need to get the hell out of the way to let others disembark.

      It’s also our lack of assertiveness to say something to these people who otherwise don’t see all of that.

      Teenagers. Not all are good, not all are bad. The worst ones are the ones who have no respect for people who don’t want to have a flying fist or leg in their face.

  • C.M.

    Thank you! I live in NYC and, although I love not having to worry about owning a car, sometimes riding the subway drives me crazy! Just the other day as I was riding the subway home from work, I saw an average looking, middle aged man pull out his electric shaver and shave his face! He didn’t look embarrassed or anything. Just sat there like it was the most normal thing ever.

    • Tania

      @C.M.: In Honolulu, traffic is horrible and to get into an all day parking without a reserved card, you’ve got to get to downtown earlier before they fill up. They are in their own cars but everyone can see you and I’ve seen people brushing their teeth, plucking their nose hairs, curling their lashes and yup shaving at traffic lights but more frighteningly also on the freeway which is gridlocked but still moving. I used to leave all my make-up in my auditor brief bag and put it on once I was parked.

    • saverspender @ save. spend. splurge.

      HAHAHAHAH!! I have NOT seen that yet, but I have seen some questionable things on the subway.

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