eighty-six: letters to two fellow riders

The expression “jaded New Yorker” exists with good reason. We city dwellers see outrageous things on a daily basis—some too cringe-worthy to mention here (I mean you could be just sitting down to breakfast for all I know). Most days, the ridiculous behavior doesn’t faze me, but today’s antics were just too much! Oh how I wish I had some civilettes for these offenders…

March 28, 2011

To the Gentlemen Clipping His Nails on the 6 Train,

I think you’ll agree with me here, riding the six train during rush hour isn’t the most pleasant way to start your morning. We’re crammed-to-capacity in a mobile petri dish of germs. So I have to ask, why would you ever trim your fingernails here? You didn’t even make an effort to collect the clippings, but let them careen across the train.

I don’t like to pass judgement or make broad generalizations, but your navy blue suit and brown Ferragamo loafers suggest you must have some level of taste. And judging from your smug look, I think you know better. I also think you have it in you to be more courteous to the rest of us. No need to apologize this time, we’ll just chalk it up to a crazy week at the office with no time for a man-icure. But please, please, don’t let it happen again.

Your fellow rider,



To the Gentlemen Watching Porn on a Portable DVD Player,

I very much respect your desire to stay entertained during this forty-minute train ride from New York City to Westchester County. BUT, I find your viewing choice completely inappropriate. Pornography? On a commuter train? Without headphones? That goes against all spoken and non-spoken rider code. I am disgusted and offended. And only wish you weren’t seemingly smart enough to hit the pause button when the conductor came for your ticket. If you ever do this again (which I’m nearly sure you will) I hope you get caught. And punished in a big way.

Your fellow rider,


three: an email to American Airlines

not so friendly skies


January 3, 2011

Dear Customer Service,

I have no words for the complete incompetence of your baggage claim department.

Today you lost my suitcase. It was supposed to be on the plane with me, traveling from Miami to New York. But it wasn’t. Your baggage claim advisor assured me it would be on the next plane landing thirty minutes later. The last time you lost my luggage, it didn’t turn up for five days so I decided to wait. I told my friends and family (and by extension the car service we arranged) to go on ahead without me. Well, guess what?! My bag wasn’t on the next plane. And what’s more, over twenty people on that flight were missing their luggage as well. When I returned to the baggage counter, your advisor was of no help. I filed a claim and was told that my bag should “turn up” in a few days–completely unacceptable. Your advisor was not apologetic nor did she give me any level of confidence in her ability to sort out my situation. I left the airport and incurred a $100 cab charge, a charge I could have avoided had I been able to leave as planned.

Your automated telephone service phoned me at 4 PM today to inform me that my luggage had been “located”. Nothing more. I could check back for updates. I should also mention that I had to call your system back–twice–because of its failure to recognize the requested commands of “yes” and “continue”. Again I say, completely unacceptable.

Despite having arranged for the baggage to be delivered to my apartment in the city, I decided to return to the airport. Have I mentioned my complete lack of confidence in your baggage employees? Guess what? No suitcase. I calmly asked your advisor where my baggage was and when I might expect its return. She had no answers or apologies.

Tell me please, what does “located” mean to you? I still do not have my bag despite your company assuring me it has been “located”. Nor do I have any indication as to when I will receive it. I’m also missing a cool $100 in cab fare. And as you can probably imagine, a whole lot of patience.

I look forward to receiving my luggage and a proper apology.



**UPDATE: My bag arrived! Three days later and with a huge black stain on the top (sadly, I brought the only non-black suitcase I own on this trip).