The guilty guy’s feet appear at the top of the frame
I witnessed my second major iced-coffee spill of the past week on the 8:16 this morning. Earlier in the week, it was the train home, and the spiller gamely mopped up as best he could with free New York tabloids, though they don’t offer the best absorbency.
This morning, the guy–60, bald, blue golf shirt and tan khakis–dumped about 16 ounces of a 20 oz. drink. He pulled a tiny packed of Kleenex out of his bag and set to it, sort of like trying to fell a grizzly bear with a wiffle bat. He placed the soaked Kleenex and spilled ice cubes back in the cup.
The spill took the form of three streams, and merged into two to enter the adjacent car. As it breached the levee and made it into the next car–that car’s riders scrambling to get their bags and feet away from the Starmucks–the man let out a frustrated sigh.
Ninety seconds later, the fool was back to his NY Times, folded into quarters, reading about Obama and Medvedev enjoying burgers in Virginia. But he was off his game, looking nervous and assessing the damage he’d wrought every minute or so.
No one really knows what to do when they spill large amounts of beverage on the train. They don’t tell you in the Mileposts Courtesy Corner, and they don’t tell you over the PA system. As a result, people react badly and inadequately.
So here’s the guidebook.
* First off, when you spill, make some effort to clean it up. You simply have to. Yes, you’re ill-equipped for the job. You don’t have quicker-picker-upper towels, and you certainly don’t have the hardware required for either a top kill or a junk shot. But you have some sort of paper products on you, and there’s always a bathroom nearby. Clean some of the crap up.
* Next, apologize to everyone within 10 feet of you. If your spill creeps into another car and people look up to see its source, raise your hand. Unlike the BP chief, Tony Hayward, own the damn thing.
* Offer a minimum of three disgusted shakes of your head throughout the duration of the trip, showing everyone around just how disappointed you are in your actions.
* If and when the conductor comes by, acknowledge what you did. It’s his or her house, after all.
* This is optional, but maybe lighten the mood with a joke. Everyone’s annoyed by what you did, but anyone with a heart feels a tiny bit bad for you. Get them on your side with a quip, such as “I’m probably better off without the extra caffeine,” or some such.
Above all else, just hold onto your damn coffee. Is it really that difficult?