Deck's in the City

by Jeff Deck | 10/18/00 5:00am

Dear Reader: As I am residing in New York City for the term, and many Dartmouth students will experience an internship in a big city at some point, and/or work in the big city after graduation, I thought it appropriate and beneficial to offer a few pointers about city life. One can't get by in the big city without the "street smarts," the "know-how" that I will present to you. Today's topic: transportation.

In the city, one (i.e., you, or me) will notice immediately that there are a few ways of transportation (subway, cab) that will get one where one needs to go, and then there are other methods (car) that will lead one to eventually commit HARA-KIRI. The aforementioned cab is an efficient means of transportation, in which one flags down a yellow vehicle, steps in and the disembodied voice of Bernadette Peters instructs one to fasten one's seatbelt. However, there are potentially harmful consequences to a cab ride. One such consequence is death. The risk of this consequence is in inverse proportion to the amount of driving instruction the cab driver has received. If, upon entering the cab, one notices a certificate from "Ralph's E-Z Cab School," one should exit the vehicle immediately.

Thus, the subway is left as the least fatal mode of transportation. But, as in all things, as Horace said, "In flagrante delicto," which has something to do with the Golden Mean. In other words, observe caution. Limbs have been lost when unwary travelers take the subway lightly. That is to say, take the subway heavily, or it may cost one dearly. One must not give money to any singing minstrel with a coffer on the subway platform, especially if the singer is performing Clapton's "Tears in Heaven," which is clearly in bad taste. In fact, if the singer has chosen any song by Mariah Carey, one should take money away from the singer as a penalty.

Along the same vein, one will note that occasionally, a homeless person or derelict will take the opportunity of a confined subway ride to give a speech and solicit money from the other passengers. One should not give money to these solicitors; however, one might wonder at the best way to rebuff their groping hands. An effective method, of course, would be to simply pretend the beggar is not there. However, if one wishes to end the pestering once and for good, there is a simple and time-tried solution. When a vagabond asks one about money, one should hold out one's hands as if expecting a donation. This will sorely confuse the solicitor, and he or she will wander off to some other target. Word will spread quickly within the derelict community -- henceforth, one will be known as "that guy" or "that girl," and future solicitors will avoid one with superstitious dread.

Of course, we would be remiss if we did not examine the most subtle method of transportation: the elevator. New York's World Trade Center boasts elevators with a top speed of twenty-five miles an hour. Usually, elevators do not well, elevate that fast, but to be on the safe side, one should always wear protective gear when utilizing these often treacherous devices. Most times a helmet should suffice. If one is mocked by one's fellow passengers in the elevator, one should smile smugly, knowing that they will die but one will not.

Above all, one should remember that city life is fraught with danger, and that transportation is no exception. Be careful. Daniel Webster said, "Only the strong survive." But if he were alive today, Webster would probably add the wise words "with a proper measure of caution." One would do well to remember these words, this fictitious counsel of a resurrected patriarch. Be strong; be cautious; and most importantly, avoid cab drivers named Ralph.