Metro Etiquette


Five Rules MetroRail Should Consider Adding

By Jeff Balke

Houstonians are generally an amiable folk. We have a reputation for being friendly almost to a fault. So, when we read about the controversy stirred up in New York City over a video of a fight between a subway rider eating spaghetti and another rider who was none too pleased with this activity, we wondered about the rules on our own light rail system.

There is apparently no ban on eating on the subway in New York, which makes it at least a little surprising that something like this hasn't been caught on video sooner. We're fairly certain it's happened, but like most things in the world today, if it isn't on YouTube, it doesn't exist.

Riders of MetroRail in Houston can rest easy in the knowledge that eating and drinking are not allowed. Additionally, things like littering, spitting, "lewd behavior," vandalism, fighting, verbal abuse and drug use are on Metro's list of no-no's for riders.

They even go so far as to give this cute little bit of advice:

Do not occupy more than one seat — no matter how nice your purse is, it doesn't require its own space.


We began to think that maybe this list could be expanded or at least better defined in order to avoid our own mass-transit brawls. So, here are our five suggestions for rules Metro should consider for the light rail:

5. No nail clipping

Trimming your nails should be done in the privacy of your own home, preferably over a garbage can or toilet. No one wants your nasty nail remnants lying around where they want to sit. In fact, don't even bring nail clippers on the train. You can't bring them on an airplane, so there's no sense in endangering us with your flying nail clippings on the rail. You could put an eye out.

4. No shooting people

Gun laws in Texas allow you to carry a gun pretty much anywhere. In fact, we're pretty sure toting a loaded weapon will be a requirement any day now. But, please, when you are on the rail, holster that bad boy. Nobody wants a bullet ricocheting all over the damn place and hurting some innocent bystander. Save your gunfight for a vacant alley or a Walmart parking lot.

3. No sex

Granted, the rules say "no lewd behavior," but we feel like a specific ban on sex is warranted. Sure, it looks all hot when it's Tom Cruise and Rebecca De Mornay doing the nasty on a train in Risky Business to the sweet sounds of Tangerine Dream, but a more likely scenario is two crack addicts having a quickie in the seat next to you while Girl Talk seeps out of some hipster's ear buds. (Oh, and this includes oral. Don't think you could get away with Bill Clinton-izing that rule. We're onto you, slick.)

2. No masturbation

While we're on this topic, let's just get this out of the way as well. We know plenty of you pervs get off to playing pocket pool in public, but this is neither the time nor the place. Handle your business elsewhere, weirdo. And don't even think about pulling a Kansas City Car Wash when your buddy and his girlfriend are violating rule number 3.

1. No farting

This is a tough one to enforce. If someone accuses another of this transgression, they would be found guilty by the doctrine of "He who smelt it dealt it." However, a new legal concept making the rounds, "He who denied it supplied it," complicates matters, which is why it is better to just wait until you get off the train before breaking wind, as our grandmother called it. Fines are double for anyone found guilty of leaving a silent-but-deadly behind as they walk through the sliding doors and off the train, or "crop dusting."

DOING IT DAILY There’s tons of stuff each day on the Houston Press blogs; you’re only getting a taste of it here in the print edition. Head to (or “/rocks” or “/eating” or “/artattack”).


We gave you a report on Farm to Fridge — The Truth Behind Meat Production —a documentary on animal abuse complete with graphic photos. We talked some more about the Rebecca Black video. And in reaction to the Spring woman who's teaching Christian pole dancing classes, we gave you five other things you might do for Jesus.


We reported on the man who fell to his death from a ride at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and followed up with the lawsuit his relatives filed against the carnival operators and the HLSR. We reported on how Khon Lu, owner of Khon's, a bar in Houston's Little Saigon, turned down a woman who asked if she could have a Communist Party rally at his place. And we told you how the sheriff's office would be glad to help you shred your documents.


We helped you get ready for the Final Four showdown. We found out that Victoria's Secret is starting a new line of Major League Baseball clothing, but not including the Astros. And we reported on how an NFL rules change moving the kickoff spot from the 30- to 35-yard-line might end up helping the Texans.


At SXSW, we tested Ubisoft's much-anticipated new video game Rocksmith, which is like Guitar Hero with an actual guitar. Our "100 Creatives" series continued with a profile of bestselling author (and Texas Medical Center neuroscientist) David Eagleman. We checked out Houston's third installment of the sophisticated concept-concert series Songs from a Room. And we mourned Liz Taylor's passing with a look at the actress's most signature movie moments.


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