Riding Metro-North. With Kvetch.

man spreader

Friday, November, 13th.

Morning Paper.

“Confiscated glitter spray at airport security…Mouldy bread…No caffeinated coffee…Cannot find simple persian rugs with cherub imagery…Lack of free time…Horrors of luxury travel…Mediocre meals…Rude customer service…The obnoxious guy at the next table…The Talkative taxi cab driver…A hostile airline ticket clerk…The interminable security line…The malodorous seatmate and crying baby.”  Teddy Wayne, the author, continues in The Microcomplaint: Nothing Too Small to Whine About.  “It was once considered unbecoming, or annoying itself, to moan publicly about trifling personal ordeals. Now, in a seismic shift for the moral culture, abetted by technology, we tolerate and even encourage the “microcomplaint”: the petty, petulant kvetch about the quotidian.”

I finish the article and mumble my POV: Micro b*tches and then tweet or blog the h*ll out of them.  Can you believe these people? Grab a six-pack of perspective people!

Wednesday, November 18th.

5:40 a.m. Metro North to Grand Central.
Train whistle blows as it approaches.
I’m assessing the passenger load as the train cars pass. 5:40 and jammed.

There’s a single aisle seat open in a two seater.
My seat mate doesn’t raise his head from his magazine.
His oversized backpack sits on the floor between his legs.
His legs, spread wide, encroach. A Manspreader! In My Space.

I sit.
He does not move or acknowledge me.
His right leg leans heavily on my left.
I inhale a whiff of disinfectant-urine mix.  Ah, yes. The Public Toilet is one seat up.

I reach down into my bag to grab my Reader and lean in ever so slightly.
Smoke signal Mate. Smoke signal.
He does not move.

I turn to feign a glance out the window and lean heavily back.
He does not move.

I assess.
He’s not oversized. Not in weight or in height.
Middle aged. No obvious disability that requires a spreading.

He finishes his magazine.
He spreads his legs wider to reach into his bag for his smartphone.
And then surfs.

It can’t be. Could it be that he’s actually widened his manspreading and his lean-in?
I shift left into him, and then shift right and away.
He feels the counter lean, shifts, but does not eliminate the Man-Leg to Man-Leg contact.

What is this shortness of breath? Claustrophobia?

He pecks out numbers on his cell phone.

“Take-out order please. Light buttered toasted bagel with cream cheese. And a diet coke.”

He pecks out numbers for a second call.  And turns his head to the window to disguise the conversation, which is muffled but echoes through the quiet car.

He’s still leaning in.

Other morning commuters have noticed the breach in the Quiet Car code of conduct with his phone chatter.

I’m now sizing up the merits of confrontation. 15 minutes left in the ride.  Just let it go Man. Let it go. Shift your focus. 

He’s still leaning in.

This is blog worthy. I start taking notes on my iPhone. Bearded, middle aged man with splotches of grey. Brown corduroy pants. Eastern European accent. Coat swings on the hook; it’s a winter down jacket.

He stands up, and jostles me on his way up.  I tap away on my iPhone: He roughly rips off the original plastic wrap on the handle of his backpack and tears the plastic wrap on the wheels. (Odd)

He taps me on the shoulder. Excuse me. This is my stop.


Friday, November 13th.

Teddy Wayne continues: “The smartphone in particular has facilitated extemporaneous caviling. Irritations that the passage of time may have soothed can, in the moment, be immediately expressed to an audience. […]”

Wednesday, November 18th. 8:30 p.m.

I hit Publish.



  1. I am sorry that you had that experience…(ugh, ” whiff of disinfectant-urine mix” if I had to face that I’d have to carry a perfumed infused kleenex with me for emergency scent, relief) I would have a hard time on crowded mass transit, personal space invaded, …do you carry a small 1oz squeeze hand sanitizer? I have already encountered sneeze-ers and cough-ers who do not cover their under pressure release! Monday, a female in close proximity, behind me in line at Victoria Secret coughed so hard I felt my sweater move between my shoulders blades, taking the full impact…I thought icky. not classy… PS (if I had the need to use a bus I would be thankful for the option,, though if it was crowded i would be uncomfortable) the buses going to the University are standing room, sometimes..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are a quick study, David. But then I already knew that. This is a magnificent micro complaint!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Grrrr. I just want to poke him with something. You’re amazing- turning your fantasy whoop a** into a blog post! Thanks for the laugh!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Public transport, gotta love it. I don’t remember the last time I went on a train or a bus? I am so glad I have you to keep me updated and aware. You show extreme patience with issues like the “spread” and the “smell” I personally, may have moved away, and that’s why I have no good stories! Thanks for the share. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. David, I’m so sorry… but my sides hurt from laughing so hard! This was brilliant. GREAT writing!! I will have to reread this, multiple times. Thank you so much. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Why not ask him to move his leg? (I know, how naïve!) Though, of course, then you wouldn’t have this brilliant post to share. Irritation is relative.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. .”I’m not a germaphobe”, yet, either…being a diabetic and having some other health issues I have a need to take extra care 🙂 …

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kanigan kills it with another blazing example of squeezing lemonade out of lemons!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You are…HILARIOUS! Lol!!! By the way, I think I might suffer from odorphobia. Unpleasant odors are the worst for me. Try being a female and raising two boys when you’re an odorphobe.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. michael zahaby says:

    On trains, planes and in airports everyone behaves as if they are in their own living room. He is lucky i wasn’t his seat mate

    Liked by 1 person

  11. we teach the kinders to leave a ‘hula hoop’ of space between them and others, as not everyone is comfortable with people in close proximity –

    Liked by 1 person

  12. yes! and it’s something in their life that they can visualize and actually try out –

    Liked by 1 person

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