HAWTHORNE, N.Y. – It’s the stressful act of making a split-second decision of whether you have enough time to purchase a beer in Grand Central Terminal before catching your train home. Many New York commuters face this scenario every day, but few may know what it’s actually called.
“The New York Commuter’s Glossary,” a new book written by Hawthorne resident Michael Malone, labels it “Booze It or Lose It.” The phrase is one of many in the glossary that are created and defined by Malone in a witty way to look at commuting by train.
“You see and experience a lot of things when you commute on the train into the city every day, and I thought to myself, ‘There needs to be a word for those things,’ ” Malone said. “It was sort of my way of putting a humorous aspect to something that isn’t so great.”
Malone, a reporter for a broadcasting and radio company in Manhattan, rides the Metro-North Railroad four days a week from his home in Hawthorne. The rides to Grand Central Terminal inspired him to create the blog TrainJotting.com to vent some of his thoughts on commuting. On his blog, Malone started a weekly post in which he would create a word, or “sniglet,” related to an aspect of taking the train every day. After commuting to the city for six years, Malone realized that he had created enough original terms to publish his own glossary.
As for how he came up with the nearly 80 terms in the book, Malone said it’s all about experience.
“Almost all of the terms in the book are things that I have experienced while commuting,” Malone said. “There’s really no science to it. It’s really just putting different words into my head and seeing what works.”
Almost every entry in the glossary holds ties to Westchester and Fairfield counties. The glossary includes:
- Mount Yearnin' - (noun) Pangs of envy one feels when passing the stops at Bronxville, Pelham, Mount Vernon, etc. that are quick and easy jaunts to/from Grand Central. Example: I had a serious case of Mount Yearnin’ as the 7:22 rumbled along to faraway Williams Bridge.
- Stenchbench - (noun) The almost always available trio of seats directly across from the toilet. Example: I was a little late boarding the 7:22 to Bronxville, so I had to sit on the freakin’ stenchbench.
- Paying Dumb - (verb) Trying to pass off an off-peak ticket on a peak train, or an expired ticket, in hopes that the conductor won’t notice and won’t make you pay up. Example: I tried paying dumb with the conductor on my train to Greenwich, but the hardass flagged me and made me cough up the extra four bucks for a peak ticket.
In addition to the definitions, Malone teamed up with fellow Mount Pleasant resident Joseph Walden, who illustrated many of the terms with cartoon-style drawings.
“We met at a barbecue through our wives and sons who were friends, and a lot of times those scenarios can be pretty awkward, but we hit it off well,” Malone said. “He’s a wonderful artist, and he went above and beyond for this book.”