The New York Commuter’s Glossary: A Book for Metro-North Riders

How vast is your Metro-North Commuting vocabulary?

“Commuting is a death by a thousand tiny pin pricks, as opposed to the broadsword,” says Michael Malone, writer, blogger at, occasional Westchester Magazine contributor, and author of The New York Commuter’s Glossary. “For the most part, the regular riders are well behaved, and get the drill. Some, known as commutants, don’t get it, and some, dubbed assengers, don’t ride enough to pick up on the code of behavior.”

If you’re not a daily Metro-North rider and don’t yet know all of said unspoken rules, at least you can learn the lingo. In The New York Commuter’s Glossary, Malone has given a name to all of the little indignities that face a daily train commuter.

How savvy are you? Let's see if you recognize these words:

Kneegotiations: The awkward intertwining of two passengers’ legs as they share facing seats on Metro-North trains.

Tramnesia: The frightening feeling of waking up on the train and bolting for the door, certain that the present stop is your own.

Accidental tourist: Falling asleep on the commute and waking up several stops past your own in a strange land.

Sound like any of you?

Since Malone is obviously a frequent commuter, I asked him for his favorite train story. He told me about one of his favorite regular riders, “simply for the juxtaposition of the dull, white bread setting of the evening train, and a rider who clearly did not fit the profile of the typical rider,” he explains.

“‘Rocky’ is a transvestite, and, according to conductors, a fairly regular rider on Metro-North,” he says. “He’s about seven feet tall in his giant heels, African-American — the large majority of Metro-North riders are very, very white — and dresses to put a Vegas strumpet to shame with wigs, fishnets, crop tops, and faux furs. I’ve seen Rocky twice on the train — Rocky I and Rocky II? — though not in some time. What’s as entertaining as watching Rocky stroll into your car — and he seems to prefer walking up and down the aisles, as if on a runway, as opposed to quickly finding a seat and almost blending in — is watching the faces of the everyday riders.”

He adds: “One thing I always wonder about Rocky — as he’s on the northbound train — is where the heck is he going? He doesn’t get off in White Plains. Chappaqua? Bedford? It boggles the mind.”

» More from Poptional Reading


Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Pop Culture in Hudson Valley

About This Blog

Marisa LaScala

Marisa LaScala
Elmsford, NY

Associate Editor Marisa LaScala joined Westchester magazine in 2003, and ever since she's blown every paycheck at the Greenburgh Multiplex. She also staunchly defends Richard Kelly, doesn't mind spoiling the endings of trashy movies you're curious about but don't want to pay to see, wishes the Hold Steady would come back and rock out Westchester, misses Arrested Development more than anyone can imagine, and still watches cartoons and Saturday Night Live. You can find more of her cultural criticism at, where she is a staff writer.



Recent Posts

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Our free, totally awesome newsletter

Sign up for Hudson Valley Today!

Sign up for Hudson Valley Today!

Sign me up for VIP offers, too!

Edit Module
Edit Module