PHANTOM OF THE STOPERA \FANN-tum uv the STOP-ruh\ noun: The people you see at your train stop each day that suddenly disappear, but pop into your mind weeks or months later and cause you to wonder what ever happened to them.
I was kind of making eyes at this young brunette at my Crestwood stop, but then she went Phantom of the Stopera om me and my commute regressed to a mirthless dirge.
DISTRACKTION \Diss-TRAK-shun\ noun: The shroud of confusion that envelopes a commuter and causes them to forget their track number in the short period between when they read it on the Departures screen and they’re en route to their track.
After a rough day at work, I encountered a hardcore case of distracktion and had to return to the Departures board to find out where the heck I was trying to go.
It is a weekend. Be on the lookout for this.
CANON FODDER \KAN-in FAH-dur\ noun: Ambulatory commuters who end up in tourists’ photos as they snap pictures while in Grand Central Terminal or in Penn Station.
I was late for my 9 a.m. meeting, and ended up being Canon fodder for some German tourists when I bolted in front of them as they took a group picture in front of the Grand Central information kiosk.
BATTLE OF THE MIDWAY \BAHT-ull uv the MID-way\ noun: The non-verbal jockeying for ownership of the empty middle seat between occupants of the window and aisle spots on a three-seater.
The guy in the window seat had his briefcase in the middle seat on the 8:22 to Valhalla, but I kept moving parts of my newspaper over until we ended up sharing the space.
This is but one of 70 commuter terms and phrases in our mega-funny New York Commuter’s Glossary!
Lessons we can learn from Chinese dissidents. Such as the polite way to chat into a cell phone in a packed car.
CHATTERBLOX: CHAT urr BLOKS \noun\: The act of covering one’s mouth with one’s hand while speaking on the cellphone on a crowded train.
I was getting the stink-eye from my fellow riders on the 5:46 to North White Plains while talking to my boss on the cell, so I threw up the chatterblox and everything was cool.
[image: NY Times'
BIPOLAR EXPRESS \BY-poh-ler eks-PRES\ noun: A conductor term for a train filled with passengers possessing questionable mental stability.
Usage: The conductor on the 6:12 to Westport was overheard saying, “There must be a full moon tonight, my train is a Bipolar Express.”
The Poughkeepsie Journal enjoyed our own New York Commuter’s Glossary, which got a writeup in John Rolfe’s “On the Rails” column over the weekend.
“The New York Commuter’s Glossary” is an amusing read you can complete in the time it takes to go from to Poughkeepsie to Beacon, and it will likely inspire you to come up with terms of your own, a fun mental exercise for those long rides when you’re dealing with “Assengers” or have missed your train because you were blocked by a “Spurnstile.”
You can get the book here.