New Yorkers love to kvetch, and the MTA certainly provides them with plenty of opportunities. The subway may be a marvel of engineering, whisking 5.5 million riders between 468 stations, but being confined to a metal tube with strangers inevitably leads to tension and conflicts. Ask any commuter what irritates them about the subway, and you’re likely to hear that what they loathe most — apart from the inevitable delays — are the quirks of their fellow riders.
Joe Navarro, a former FBI agent and body language expert — his book, What Every Body is Saying, is a primer on non-verbal communication — says this annoyance is expected. "Any time we're in a smaller environment with strangers, we behave differently," he explains. "There’s an ancient part of the brain already aroused and on the defensive because of the close proximity of the subway.”