The NYC-MTA Subway Combine

With the NFL Draft arriving soon, some inspiration from this week’s great NYC-NY Yankees themed Righteous Prick Podcast episode, and my ever increasing admiration for the lack of civility and manners on the NYC subway I have decided to reveal another combine that is testing a unique and incredible set of skills: the NYC-MTA Subway Combine.  You may be saying, “the NYC Subway has never had a great reputation,” and that is true, but it used to have character, much like its home city.  Stabbings, muggings, graffiti, etc. were horrible, but at least you knew when danger was coming.  Now, in the NYC with way too many 7-11s, where gelato crazes were replaced by cupcake crazes, which are now being replaced by burger crazes, the danger has been replaced by a three-headed monster of rudeness, nuisance and lack of self-awareness.  So, with that cheerful preamble I now present to you the talented, diverse and awful competitors showcasing their skills at making your commute and travel irritating.

 1. The 11 Foot Dash.  This is probably the single most scrutinized event of the combine.  It values several things:

  • how quickly can you get to an open seat
  • how quickly you can get to an open seat when you are waiting for the train and you have to penetrate a wall of rush hour customers trying to get off of the train (scouts really like to see that special athlete-asshole who can get to the open seat before even two people have exited the train)
  • in a part people often forget, how quickly you exit the train, making sure you are first out, even if you have nowhere to go

Asian women tend to dominate this category because of their slight and quick statute, as well as a willingness to head quickly into danger and crowds because their cultures do not value the individual.  The best time ever in this even is 0.7 seconds from train door opening to sitting by 91 year old Chinese woman Li (an athlete of her stature only goes by one name).

2. The Create a Seat Event.  This is an event that measures strength and lack of awareness of one’s own size.  Most of the new subways fit 3-4 people in between poles, depending on which side of the pole you sit.  This event tests how well an athlete/moron fits themselves into a seat space that clearly cannot accommodate them.   This event measures hip strength and mental toughness – two things crucial to being an effective NYC Subway rider.  This event tends to have strong showings from larger black women, including Miss Stevens, a woman from the Bronx who once squeezed her 277 pounds into a seat space that officials at the MTA claimed could only have fit a malnourished 6 year old. 

3. The Rush Hour Text Exit.  This event tests dexterity of hands and rudeness of behavior.  The event usually takes place at 515 pm at either Times Square or Grand Central Station and as the train starts pulling into a station the athlete/rude tool begins to text messages (despite not having a signal) and does not look up as the train doors open to a sea of people 8 rows deep. The official measurement is how many characters without mistake can be typed before reaching the street level. This involves quick hands and fingers, ability to walk on even ground and stairs without looking up and a willful ignorance that you are making dozens if not hundreds of other commutes slower.  Manhattan’s Upper East Side is often producing athletes that crush this event, with  Alyssa Lara Gold typing over 657 characters last year to set the combine record.

4. The Backpack Swing. This event tests lower back strength and ability to inflict damage on other Subway riders.  This competition is often dominated by men, usually Caucasian men who are mysteriously in camping garb in Manhattan or by Mexican laborers who need to pack for 3 jobs each day.  A solid athlete/moron in this event simply leaves his backpack on, no matter how crowded the train and occasionally nudges and bumps other passengers.  What the scouts from the MTA look for here is the next level – the guy who swings around crushing other passengers and then gives looks in their direction like they need to watch where they are going. 

5. Ear Tolerance.  This is the event that measures how loud someone can listen to music in their headphones.  This event is often dominated by teenagers from the South Bronx and Washington Heights.  Too often their ears peak at 16 and never reach the same capacity for eardrum destruction again.  There are four different levels MTA scouts assign, with the first being least enticing and the last being most enticing:

  • Can vaguely hear music if you are sitting near the person
  • Can clearly distinguish the beat
  • Can clearly distinguish the lyrics
  • Can clearly understand the beat and lyrics even though you have never heard the song they are listening to

16 year old Debbie Sanchez is rumored to have had the entire 4 train singing along to Mumford and Sons at Mt Eden Avenue in the Bronx, despite the fact that no one had ever heard of them before she started playing her iPod that legendary day back in 2012.

6. Full Body Pole Lean.  This event is for the person who does not care if you have no where to hold on to during the ride and does not mind the feel of cold steel running up the crack of their ass.  Men of all races tend to dominate this field because their height tends to allow for near complete pole coverage.  One competitor/asshole named Michael Murphy from Park Slope once spent an entire day off from work reading a Proust collection while leaning on the F train pole for 11 hours.

7. The Loud Talk – This is a tricky event that is very unpredictable.  Past winners have ranged from intimidating black thug who is daring you to shush him, to NYU theater geek who cannot stop gushing over how funny and brilliant his Drama professor/secret coercive lover is,  to the Latin woman who is just having a normal conversation with her friend.  This requires vocal strength and a willingness to ruin everyone’s train ride.

8. Littering.  The second to last event of the combine is really almost the equivalent of the NFL’s Wonderlich Test.  The littering event tests how morally bankrupt your mind is. Athletes/sociopaths are given candy and or/cigarettes and have garbage baskets placed near them.  The person who insists on throwing garbage/wrappers on the subway tracks from the closest distance to an actual garbage can is the one who skyrockets up the MTA draft board.  In an epic performance that is combine legend, Malcolm Johnson, a 33 year old crazy person, once took a can of beer out of a garbage can and threw it on the tracks of the 1 train. He went #3 that year in the MTA draft.

9. The Box Out.  A move by heroes like the author of this piece, where you try to do the good deed and exit the train to let people off, but have to do a reverse pivot spin move to prevent people from getting on the train before you re-enter the train.  This event favors the good hearted, but fair-minded citizens of this city.  All 19 of us.  We may not put up the big numbers as others at the combine, but we are good people to have on the MTA team.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes