A sampling of times men made me feel uncomfortable on the subway

Can you please keep your thoughts to yourself?

Living in NYC is probably intimidating to those who aren’t from here. But I’m a New Yorker – born and raised – and I still find that I don’t always feel comfortable or safe traveling in my own city, my backyard.

According to amNewYork, there was a rise of reported subway sex crimes between 2014 and 2015. At the time of the article’s publication last July, there were 343 reported sex offenses that had taken place on subways in 2015. Here are four instances within the last few years that have caused me to feel vulnerable while simply going about my day.


Ash Wednesday isn’t Ask Wednesday

I was 18 and still in high school. I was heading downtown to see my friends. The subway car was still pretty empty as I live towards the end of the line. A man who looked like an MTA worker wearing a neon vest sat across from me. It was Ash Wednesday and he had a messy blob of ash on his forehead. He was looking at me. I ignored his stare and focused on the music I was listening to. Before he got off, he stood up and approached me. I took out one of my earbuds.

“I just wanted to say that you’re really pretty and I was wondering if I could have your number?” he asked.

“Uhm, I’m only 18,” I replied skeptically.

“Well how old do you think I am?” he responded defensively.

“Look, I’m just really not interested,” I said.

He finally walked away and exited the train.

No one is ever ‘asking for it’

I was on my way downtown to class one morning during my Junior year of college. I was wearing my cool denim jacket I had sewed some subversive feminist patches on. On the back was a patch that said “Take Me Out Before You Eat Me Out.” My mom despises that patch to this day, but I think it’s kickass.


The train was approaching the station and I waited on the platform to get on. An older man – probably in his 50s – came up behind me and said, “think I could take you up on that offer?” obviously referring to the patch.

“No,” I mumbled in a state of panic.

I walked away and made sure to board a different subway car than him.

If you don’t know me, don’t wish me a happy anything

It was New Year’s Day. I was heading home from a friend’s house and a couple stops away from where I get off. The train car was empty except for me and one other man.

“Excuse me, miss,” he yelled across the car.

I didn’t respond, and just focused on my phone.

He started to walk towards me. “Excuse me, miss? Happy New Years,” he said.

I still didn’t acknowledge him, and then he sat directly across from me.

“I just wanna wish you a happy New Years,” he said again.

I didn’t answer, and he continued to sit there for a few seconds, waiting for me to reply.

He eventually got up and got off the subway.


Not to make assumptions, but…

I was on my way to class during my senior year of college. It was rush hour and the train was packed with the exception of two seats on either side of a homeless man. He seemed pretty docile, not talking or carrying anything with him. As I didn’t want to stigmatize the homeless, I sat down next to him, between him and another man who was on the edge of the row. When that man got up, I slid over and took his seat because I prefer to be on the edge of rows of subway seats.

At the next stop, the homeless man slid closer to me.

I was now between him and the metal wall of the subway car. I began to notice he smelled like urine.  I started to freak out mentally. Why did he get closer to me? I felt trapped between him, the wall, and all the people standing around us.

I got off the train five stops early and transferred to the express line, just because I feared what might happen next, especially with all the news of “Subway Slashers” that were emerging.