Thursday, July 7, 2016

THE COMMUTERS: Mind Your Manners, By Aimee Teplitskiy

Aimee Teplitskiy
It is rush hour on a Tuesday, and I am on the subway trying to get home. There is a group of teenagers at the end of the car singing – very badly – at the top of their lungs. How rude is that? Not only are they seriously annoying everyone around them, but they are completely misrepresenting the teenage generation. I promise, most of us are not that obnoxious.
        I am sure that I am not the only one with stories of rowdy teenagers on the MTA, or someone spreading their legs ridiculously wide on the seat, leaving no room for anybody else to sit. I am also sure that many of us have been those rude, audacious
people. I know for a fact I have been excessively loud on the subway before, or accidentally pushed someone when trying to get on or off the train. Everybody has a story to tell about people being rude on public transportation.
When we encounter these rude people, we very often want to make them aware of just how disruptive or aggravating they are being. The only issue is, how? How can we inform people that they are being rude without seeming rude ourselves? So we refrain from saying anything and seethe in silence. 
But what if there was a way to make people more aware of their presence, and the presence of others on public transportation? The Commuters is a musical, by Kit Goldstein Grant, Gil Varod, and Caleb Damschroder, that speaks to the lack of awareness and consideration of people on the MTA. In the musical, those who transgress the rules of the MTA are punished by standing in line forever, until someone comes along to take their place. It addresses the prevalent issue of ignorance in our society in a comedic and entertaining way. The play also brings to light the fact that very often, people are not aware that what they are doing is rude or disruptive, or do not understand the extent to which they are bothering other people.

In the heat of the moment we may not notice that we shoved someone while rushing to catch our train, or that we are speaking too loudly on the phone. But this also applies to the world outside the MTA. Most of us at some time or another, made a joke or a comment to someone and in doing so, unintentionally hurt their feelings. Though we may not understand that we hurt the person at the time, when reflecting back upon the conversation it often seems very obvious that the comment or joke was hurtful. It seems to me that being a society that is always moving at super speed is taking its toll on us. We are often so swept up in the moment, or in such a rush to get somewhere, that we do not think about how others will be affected by our actions. So how can we become more aware of our effect on the people around us?
 For starters, we can try and take a second before we act or say something. A second is all it takes to realize that what we are about to say or do might be harmful to others. We should try and put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. How would you feel if you got
unceremoniously pushed on your way home after a long day at work? And if a situation should arise in which we realize that we hurt or annoyed someone, it can be easily repaired by saying sorry. Showing that you recognize your mistake and want to make things better is a great step in making the affected person feel better.
The Commuters delves into the effect of one person’s ignorance on others. Seeing this play really opens up your mind to the thought that we should be more mindful of what we say or do not only when it comes to public transportation, but when it comes to every day human interaction as well. So make space on the seat, use your inside voice on the train, and most of all “pay heed to the cautionary tale of the commuters.”
The Commuters will be performing in the Strawberry One-Act Festival on July 15 (Friday) at 7pm, July 18 (Monday) at 7pm, and July 20 (Wednesday) at 7pm, at the Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46th Street, NYC
A musical by Gil Varod, Caleb Damschroder and Kit Goldstein Grant
When a recently-sacked MTA executive wanders the Port Authority Bus Terminal after midnight, the “Commuters” sculpture comes alive to call him on his subway-related sins. The piece was read to uproarious laughter at Lincoln Center’s “Across A Crowded Room” festival.
Friday, July 15th at 7pm
Monday, July 18th at 7pm
Wednesday, July 20th at 7pm
At the Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46th Street, NYC
The Riant Theatre’s Strawberry One-Act Festival

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