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  • Sam Darling

The difference with America

It was a lovely day. I took Metro North from my beloved Grand Central Terminal and rode up America’s most southernmost fjord (thanks, glaciers!), the Hudson River, to visit my friends. We went to a farm and ate delicious food and lovingly scolded the children. A perfect day, right?

The only thing that marred the gorgeous vista during my train ride was the repeated loud-speaker announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, please watch the gap as you step off the train.” Every five minutes we hear this.

Firstly, I’m all, “Watch the gap do what?” It should be “mind” the gap because it should.

[And a legion of word nerds cringe.]

Secondly, is it American’s litigiousness or some hallmark of a nanny state that people have to be constantly reminded of lurking dangers any toddler would have the sense to avoid? I’d forgotten how quiet train rides in other countries seem by comparison to this nonsense.

Thirdly, surely the people who ride this train are mostly commuters. These poor bastards have to listen to this message forty times each day because passengers can’t be trusted to look where they step? There are signs to this effect at every entry point. Enough already.

Fourthly, at every stop I’m prompted to have thoughts about personal safety instead of relaxing and watching the beautiful view. All because New York City Transit doesn’t trust people? No wonder New Yorkers are famously anxious. “Oh, jeez. What if I fall? Oh, jeez. I might fall! Oh, jeez. Watch out old lady, you might fall!”

Fifthly, in relation to the subway system, in an average year around 150 people are injured by trains, and around a third of that number are mortally wounded. Considering that the train system in this city carries millions of people a year that is a small percentage of accidents.

I doubt the constant reminders to “watch the gap” are the reason for those low incident numbers.

Please shut up and let me think about puppies.

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