1.25.2008

Necesito...your help!

I keep seeing this MTA public safety poster in the subway and it confuses, enrages and humors me every time I see it. Normally the PSA posters in the subway are what I would consider to be “helpful,” I guess. They remind riders to engage in pretty common sense behavior—not to run down the subway stairs to catch a departing train or stand too close to the platform. Pretty standard public transportation posters really.

The posters are all designed in the same way— a photo of a minority performing the wrong subway behavior followed by a witty catchphrase and then an informational blurb about MTA subway safety. Case Study: The poster reminding you not to run down the stairs to catch the departing train has a photo of a Latino man running down the stairs. We know that he is neglectful and running down the stairs as he is a minority (just kidding) wearing a trench coat that is billowing in the breeze created by his neglectful rush, and he is carrying a brief case that is falling out of his hand as he slips on the stairs. Underneath this poignant photograph is the phrase, “Be careful, the last step COULD BE YOUR LAST!” (The winning PSA catchphrase goes to Washington D.C.’s “Escalators are like alligators” for their escalator safety campaign).

So how could I be offended by such helpful posters? you may be wondering. Well let me explain to you the poster I have now seen three times and each time I sit there, TRAPPED, force to stare in confusion. The poster follows the template I have described above, but the photo is of the Latino man (now in a business suit, goodbye trench coat) clinging to the exterior of the subway car like he is fucking Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. So I stare at this picture thinking, “What the fuck is that man doing? What is this a PSA for? Not clinging to the side of the subway car like a fucking moron?” So I look next for the witty catchphrase and informative blurb and alas—its in motherfucking Spanish. Every. Time. They don’t make a version of this PSA in English!

This situation is seriously too much for me to handle. I don’t understand so many things. Why is he clinging to the car? Is he trying to get a free ride? That can’t be it; you have to pay before you even have a chance to get close to a subway car. Why do they only make this PSA in Spanish? Is there a problem in the Latino community about Subway riding confusion? Is there an entire race of people who think you ride THE OUTSIDE of the train? What the fuck is going on?

Now I although I took three years of Spanish, I do not speak a word of it. I got through my Spanish education like I got through most of my education—luck and charm. I’m a pretty lucky and charming bitch, and it tends to help me out in a lot of sticky situations, Spanish class being one of them. I got through middle school Spanish because, well, I grew up in America and therefore know enough remedial Spanish to get through Señora Rivera’s class. Freshman year of high school I had the town lush as a teacher. Her daughter was in my year, and if you were friends with her, as I was, you basically didn’t have to worry about your grade. Gracias Señora Leikwig. Sophomore year was a little trickier. My teacher was a cunty import from Spain and I had her first period. I also had this nasty little habit throughout high school of sort of just coming in first period whenever I felt like it. It had gotten to the point where my friend Jen and I were in the same boat, if we were late to one more class we would “LC” the class (meaning Loss of Credit). On the same morning that Jen was five minutes late to class resulting in her LC, I was 45 minutes late. As I strolled in without a care in the world, my teacher looked at the clock and said, in Spanish, “Patsy you are very late to class this morning.” To which I said, “These shoes? Thanks! I love your shoes too!” My teacher thought this was the funniest thing she had ever seen in her entire life. She laughed for a solid 30 seconds, gave me that “oh you…” shake of the head and told me to sit down. No harm, no foul. I never got in trouble for being late again because when I was late, it just reminded her of the time slash shoe mix-up joke and I’d be let off the hook. Gracias Señiora Cuadrado.

So seeing how I don’t speak Spanish I need your help in translating the poster in hopes of figuring out what the fuck it’s a warning for. This will result in so much alleviated anxiety and confusion for me. So I leave you with what the poster says (yes I wrote it down one day for this very occasion) and a rough sketch of what the picture is of (yes it’s stick figures and yes I am an artist, but I never said I was an illustrator). I thank you in advance for your helpful comments!

Photobucket

Este pdria ser el ultimo viaje de su vida. El unico viaje seguro es el viaje donde permanence adentro del tran. Viaje adentro del tran—no se suba sobre el.

Sha la la!
La Patsina

17 comments:

Serena van der Woodsen said...

and the funniest typo of the year award goes to (drum roll please)...

"pubic transportation"

it speaks for itself really. the possibilities are endless.

serena van der woodsen said...

well now that my previous comment has been rendered useless thanks to patsy's speedy edit...

i have been equally plagued by this MTA ad for quite some time now. so my bright idea was to translate it on babelfish (aka what got me through several years of middle and high school spanish), but all i ended up with was some weird spanglish sentence that makes even less sense. dang it!

p.s. i'm willing to wager that our trusty roommate blair will have the answer to this one.

Anonymous said...

1.) yes i edit quickly...i will not have my blog be a mockery ms. van der woodsen.
2.) anna said jodi asked her boss who speaks spanish to translate it and this is what she got:

"my boss translated it
she speaks spnaihs
it says something like "this could be this man's last ride bc he is riding outside of the train, the only safe way to ride is inside the train blah blah, please ride safely inside the train"

wtf??!??! that still doesn't make sense! who would think to cling to dear life instead of sitting comfortably? this is like the biggest mystery to me and i hate living in a world where i don't know the answer to this.

ps: jodi i know you read this and i love you for it. give a girl a comment.

pps: blair...shed some light on this.

2 birds, 1 blog said...

by the way that last comment was from patsy. <3

Eddie said...

My favorite part of this entry (there were several amazing parts) the little stick guys (obvi) non-ironic moustache.

It reminded me of a little Conan O'Sniper action.

The worst part about this PSA is you know it was created because idiot decided to cling to the train and not sit down.

blair waldorf said...

i defer to anna's boss. i actually saw this ad on the train tonight on my commute home from work. in english, with the spanish translation right next to it. obviously the MTA was concerned about this very blog post.

in short, the ad says something like "this could be the last trip of this man's life. the only safe way to ride is when you are permanently inside the train. Ride in the train, not ON it. We care about safety...YOUR safety."

I'm paraphrasing. There could be a sentence that says "eat churros and wear ponchos" for all i know.

oh racism

Golden said...

What made this even more awesome than it already was is that I practiced Spanish all weekend, and still couldn't translate this for you.

Pablo, it's not worth it! Get inside the train!!

2 birds, 1 blog said...

thanks anyway golden...i think this is just one of those things that is going to keep me up at night for the rest of my life in confusion and sadness. we all need something to think about. keep up with the good work with the spanish! bueno suerte! or suerto...i can't remember.

xopats

Queen of the Inane said...

just go to http://babelfish.altavista.com/ and translate it yourself.

Hadley said...

So it says: This could be the last trip of your life. The only safe trip is inside the train. Travel inside the train - not on top of it. enjoy

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audrey said...

hi there! loser new reader here who is clearly going back and reading everything you've ever written. [my job is hell.] anyway, this is a thing. i haven't seen it in new york, where i live now, but in chicago i saw it a few times. some wild-n-crazy guys get their jollies by riding the outside of the train. it's really something to see, actually.

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