It is truly remarkable that there are not more accidents, muggings, etc. here in the Tri-State area. Invariably, EVERYONE has earbuds or headphones on … On the Trains, Subways, in the street … everywhere. Being somewhat nervous walking through the urban areas, I try to avoid even checking my phone. Any distraction could be someone trying to shake you down, so I stay alert. The worst example I have seen is mothers pushing baby buggies with earbuds in, looking at their phones; what the fuck is going to happen if the kid suddenly chokes, throws up (or worse!) and this idiot doesn’t hear it? Amazing!
Aother side is the trend on commutes to avoid interaction AT ALL COSTS! This is completely facilitated by having headphones/earbuds connected. Those same people somehow are supposed to hear commands from the conductor ( a Federal Requirement I believe? ), know when someone is saying “Excuse me” when trying to get off the train and acknowledge any other sound. Of course, the running joke about New Yorkers in the Subways is “Never make eye contact” and it is strictly adhered to! You can tell the non-Commuters … they’re the ones looking around at everyone!!!
Then there’s what I call Sleeptending; the sitting & pretending to sleep on the Commuter Train. This is an interesting activity employed a) to avoid interaction of ANY kind and, b) avoid being asked to give up the seat to someone more needy. This is usually employed by able-bodied men…usually in suits & shiny leather shoes!!!