Back in the summer I decided I was going to ride my bike to work every week because I needed time to exercise. I enjoyed the rides until I got hit by a car and then almost hit by a car several times in that same week. Probably I was being too gutsy with my rides, but either way, I was spooked.
To make it to work on time for morning meetings, though, I needed to start taking the subway. I could have chosen to go very, very early, or just deal through rush hour.
Although I like early morning bike rides, I’m not naturally an early bird (with riding, it’s either ride early or bake in the sun). I actually quite prefer sleep, so I opted to sleep in and suffer through pretending to be a sardine in a human sized-can.
The benefits to traveling during rush hour is that the trains come more frequently, and for my “rural” line, that can chop off between fifteen to twenty minutes off my wait. I travel from Daxing and go through one of the busiest connection points in the city, where line 5, line 10, and Yizhuang line all meet.
Cautions: I wouldn’t recommend rush hour for people who clench up or have flashbacks when touched. I also wouldn’t recommend this for parents traveling with kids, a stroller, or pregnant ladies. The time saved just isn’t worth the danger of possibly getting crushed in these delicate times of life.
1. Easy Exit. Learn which cab is closest to your final subway exit and get on that cab every time so it’s an easy exit. I have my route to work completely learned.
2. Arm Up. If you want to stay close to the door and not get pushed by the in-flow of people, you should stand at the side rail right next to the doors with your back facing the door. No one will push you – but if they do, just hold on to the side rail like you’re about to lose your life.
3. Find Breathing Room. The most packed cabs are typically the middle and front cabs on Yizhuang line, but that’s not always the case on other lines. Learn what cabs are most bearable for your commute.
4. Stand Your Ground. There are these jerks every morning who force themselves on to the cab even if people are making a woven human wall. They turn around and force themselves into the cab. You can either push back with your back, or you can lock them in the eye and give them the death stare. The people who do this avoid me when I give them the death stare. I’ve heard other women say “Don’t touch me,” but I find that a bit silly when we’re all clamoring over one another.
5. Stay Busy. There are plenty of things you can do on the subway commute if you have data on your phone. You could listen to music or podcast, read a book, check and respond to email, interact on WeChat, Facebook, or other social medias, and write blogs. In rare situations, I’ve been able to sit down and work on my laptop, but I haven’t charged just for those situations. It’s nice when that happens, but in reality, I typically just use an easily hand-held notebook since I think better with a pen and paper compared to typing notes on my phone.
6. Xia Bu Xia. If you’ve found yourself in the middle of a cab far away from the door, start to move toward the door one stop before. When everyone starts to leave on the stop preceding yours, pretend like you’re leaving too, but stop short of the door. You can also move forward during the ride by asking “下吗？“ (xià ma) Are you getting off?
7. Mooove. If you’re going through a transfer station and herded like cattle, go down middle lanes and then merge on sides.
8. Leg Work. If you have the choice of going up stairs or escalators, don’t go up the escalators unless you’re tired, have luggage, or the left lane is clear for you to go up. You can ask a few standers to move over easily if they stop in the moving lane of the escalator, but it’s harder when it’s two rows of standers. Otherwise, walking up stairs is always faster.
9. Sitting Down. Speaking of being tired and luggage, if you look really sick, someone might feel sorry for you and give you a seat, otherwise luggage makes a nice makeshift seat. If this is just your normal commute, look for people who are looking at the blinking station lights. It gives them away that they’re looking to exit the cab soon.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons