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8 Rules for Not Sucking at Public Transportation

Like many of you, I rely on public transportation to get to work. I ride the train. Some of you might take the subway or bus. Still others, like my buds Matt Tobey over at Comedy Central Insider and Adam Tod Brown right here at Cracked, work at home, writing dick jokes in their boxers, worrying only about synchronizing the mute button to their Hot Pocket farts so no one hears them ripping ass during a conference call.

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"That was a close one!"

But the rest of us understand the vagaries of public transportation. Specifically, how to carve out your own space of humanity in an otherwise less than civilized environment. That's particularly important for me, considering that almost every Cracked column I've ever done has been written on a train. Daddy needs his space. The goal is to keep people away from you, or at the very least keep them from talking to you. Still, etiquette and common decency dictate that there are right and wrong ways to go about that. So here are four dos and four don'ts on how best to get left alone on a train.

#4. Do: Sit Near the Toilet

If you're riding a form of a public transportation that contains a toilet, you have a special opportunity. See, human nature dictates that we avoid excrement and waste. Just look at our expressions: "Don't shit where you eat," "Eat shit and die" and, of course "Sarah Palin has the political insight of a talking piece of shit." Indeed, the aversion to fecal matter is a constant for all of humanity, with the small exception of German porn enthusiasts and Nicki Minaj fans.

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Clean ears thoroughly after listening.

But I urge you to free your mind. When you enter the train, take notice of any foul odors or substances emanating from the toilet. If there are none, sit down and let the toilet's mere existence keep other commuters away from you. Clean toilets and an open mind are your friends. Of course, there is the possibility that a bathroom that started out clean will become vile during the course of your journey. It's a small chance, however, and one worth taking. I mean, what are the odds of Cracked's Adam Tod Brown even riding your train?

#3. Do: Drink Alcohol Publicly

This is another one of my patented tricks, and it's kind of a win/win proposition. My local rail sells beer and cocktails on the platform. If you're looking for your own personal space, I urge you to purchase one. Many a night, after a hard day's work, I've cracked open a tall boy in a bag while riding home. Some commuters are indifferent, but a certain percentage of my fellow passengers seem to ask, "What kind of a dirty, chemically addicted alcoholic is so booze-dependent that he must suck down a Coors Light from a paper bag at 7 p.m.?" Sometimes I get a vodka tonic, which seems to work even better. You might consider taking a big gulp just at the moment someone eyeing your adjacent seat walks by. Does everyone avoid a drinking commuter? No, only a certain percentage equate train-drinking with gas-huffing, but if you decrease the overall number of people willing to sit next to you, you've upped your odds for sitting alone. And what if this plan doesn't work? Well, then you still have a beer, don't you, ya big baby.

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I've never heard of this beer, but I'd drink it to keep people away from me.

#2. Do: Wear Headphones

It is an inescapable reality that you won't always be able to keep people from sitting next to you, but that doesn't mean you have to talk to them. This is why headphones are essential. They're even more important than an actual iPod to connect them to, because it's all about pushing people away in a socially acceptable way.

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Warning: These should keep people from talking to you, but may attract hipsters.

Nevertheless, having an actual MP3 player is a pretty good idea because overhearing random train conversations is enough to ruin the solitude of your journey. My iPod has kept me from strangling so many drunken sports aficionados coming home from the game that I think Steve Jobs should be awarded a posthumous peace prize. Well, I don't really think that, but I tweeted it once. It was kind of a crappy tweet. Moving on.

#1. Do: Take a Chance With Morbid Obesity

Commuters come in all shapes and sizes. Tiny little girls, morbidly obese men and people like me who, even a decade after retiring from Calvin Klein underwear modeling, are still only a mere 15 pounds from their desired weight. To have the best traveling experience, you need to engage in some body-proportion profiling. But wait, this isn't going where you think. I would no sooner make fun of a fat person in print than I would accuse Cracked's own Adam Tod Brown of constantly ripping ass. This entry is about those occasions where you might want to consider embracing your larger commuters.

First off, in my experience, some heavier travelers are actually very conscious of their dimensions and far more considerate than some bony-assed businessman who has no compunction about driving his razor elbows into your ribs while he folds and unfolds his New York Times crossword puzzle like it's some blanket at a douchebag picnic.

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What's an eight-letter word for murdered commuter?

But more importantly, my train comes with three-seaters. Upon seeing a fairly large commuter in the window seat, lesser travelers might avoid the row based on the possibly unfounded notion that things will get tight there pretty quickly. However, have you considered taking the aisle seat? Once you secure that location, the odds of someone opting for the half seat between you and your companion are greatly diminished. Yes, it's possible, but in my experience, the only commuters who go for such seats are diminutive little ladies, so it's kind of a wash.

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