The Subway Is Not Your Personal Chauffeur

 

© Mae East 2012

I’ve started taking the train to “work” recently. I say that loosely, because although I am working, it is for free.  I used to take the train and subway regularly as a kid in high school, and I probably never really paid attention to everything that was going on around me. Sure, I looked out for my friends and lectured them on street smarts, but I’m sure I was pretty careless when it came to watching my own back.

The other day I sat there, as the train shot into the city and found it fascinating how different people are, even though we are crammed into the same environment. I suppose one could say the same thing for humans living on earth together, but in such a small and compact location, the differences in behavior were amusing.

Things I decided to never do on the train, based on observation:

  1. Wear headphones, at least not on both ears. I see people of all ages and demographics walking through the subway in a total fog because they do not hear what is going on around them. To be honest, it makes me nervous. They’d never hear feet pounding the linoleum behind them, or a warning call. Be aware of your surroundings.
  2. Be like the people who touch everything and then eat with their hands. I’m not a germaphobe, but don’t grip the handrails, door handles, ticket machines and escalator rails and then eat your apple. You might as well have passed the apple through the hands of five hundred people before gripping your fruit and taking a bite. Gross.
  3. Bring a million bags on the train and plop them all down on the ground. One, you’re creating an issue for people to get in and out of the train car without falling. Some people act like the train is their personal shuttle and there’s no need to be considerate.  You’re wrong.  No one wants to trip on your bananas. I’m making it sound like people are eating healthy here, and while I’m at it, no they aren’t.
  4. Pulling through one of the worst neighborhoods in the country, literally, and whipping out every electronic gadget you have. I suppose people aren’t watching the news on their iPads, because it’s a common trend that thieves walk down subway cars and simply slip your smartphone, iPad, etc., out of your hands and keep moving, exiting the train with your fancy devices and all your personal information. Maybe if you heard the guy coming and your bags weren’t scattered all of the floor, you’d still have it.  Be smart.
  5. Exhibiting a lack of manners. I have no problem moving out of your way when we get to your stop. You could not just nudge me. Maybe a simple “excuse me” would suffice. I’ll even stand up and not just slide my legs to the side, so you have more room. I feel like a freak when I say “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me” or smile. I’m not a Pollyanna, even though that is one of my favorite movies, but a little common decency can get one a long way. Being rude just gets people mad at you. It’s almost like the zombie apocalypse has already occurred under the streets of this city. There’s got to be something they’re happy about, especially you, girl with cute shoes.

We all have somewhere to go and we all paid to hitch a ride, might as well be wise and pleasant about it.

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What Is Fair Trade USA?

I encourage you to take a moment to take a look at http://sprawlingroots.com/ and http://sprawlingroots.wordpress.com .  They are a reputable “green” non-profit with big ideas that I stand by and write for.  This particular blog will be appearing on their website this week. Thank you for your support.

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I see the Fair Trade icon on my bag of coffee, cotton tote tag and on many organic food labels but what do Fair Trade standards actually encompass?

Fair Trade stamped items do a number of positive and noteworthy things for people and the environment. Using strict standards, the Fair Trade stamp of approval is issued to approved companies that exhibit “socially and environmental responsibility”.

The Mission Statement from Fair Trade USA is as follows:

  • Fair Trade USA enables sustainable development and community empowerment by cultivating a more equitable global trade model that benefits farmers, workers, consumers, industry and the earth. We achieve our mission by certifying and promoting Fair Trade products

Companies that earn the stamp of approval must adhere to the following basic standards:

  • Fair prices
  • No GMO’s
  • No hazardous chemicals
  • No child labor

As green and responsible consumers, it’s our duty to consider these choices, for the good of the economy, the environment and even for ourselves. GMO’s and unnatural chemicals wreak havoc on our bodies, causing altered hormones and a build-up of free radicals. Chemicals are detrimental to the environment, penetrating solid earth and seeping into the water supply. Without regulation or elimination of these toxins, contaminated earth will continue to produce unsafe products for consumption for years to come.

I don’t think I need to explain why eliminating child labor is important. In conjunction, Fair Trade USA encourages children to continue their education while also educating adults on how to successfully operate a sustainable business, while growing financially and environmentally aware. Small and underprivileged farms are paired with corporations to ensure safe and socially respectable products, while forging business relationships that do a world of good for all involved.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit www.FairtradeUSA.org.