Maybe ketchup is not the best way to get yourself some extra space on the subway?

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Image for article titled Maybe ketchup is not the best way to get yourself some extra space on the subway?
Photo: Kit L. (iStock), Grafner (iStock)

One of the greatest disappointments of my childhood was the New York City subway system. Getting to use the subway meant freedom: a magical system of underground tubes that could take me all over the city to have adventures with my friends, regardless of which borough they lived in. For city kids, the anticipation of using the subway by themselves is akin to how college students count down to their 21st birthday. And then, at last, the day came where I, by myself, boarded the R train in Brooklyn for my first day at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, and by the third stop, I was completely fucking over everything: the random delays that seem to occur for no good reason, the complete lack of ventilation, the occasionally dangerous overcrowding, and, most of all, the people who ride the subways that are the reason that everyone believes New Yorkers are assholes. Like this guy!

I can understand wanting personal space, but, buddy, the subway ain’t the place to look for that. I admire the moxie, and commitment needed to actually carry a bottle of ketchup around in your bag for the express purpose of pissing people off, but seriously, ketchup? I know it’s a divisive condiment—I, myself, find myself loathing it in some contexts (hot dogs) while adoring it in others (McDonald’s French fries)—but is it hated enough so that it could reasonably function as human repellent? I’d have no problem crossing a ketchup perimeter. In fact, I would intentionally cross a ketchup perimeter, just to piss this guy off. He should know—as any New Yorker who has ever gotten excited by the sight of an empty subway car only to discover the horror of why it was empty in the first place—that the best way to guarantee yourself some personal space is by peeing your pants while screaming about Jesus. Ketchup will never be able to compete with that. Now, if he had used raisins...