In a disturbing surveillance video captured at the 14th Street (Union Square) subway station in New York City on Thursday, a 24-year-old man is seen pushing an innocent 40-year-old woman onto the tracks, just as a train approaches. Miraculously, she survived with minor injuries because she fell between the tracks and not on top of them. What an absolutely terrifying thing to have happen to you. I was horrified when I saw it happen and thought it was such a crazy freak incident. Then yesterday, I saw another news report of the exact same thing happening to a man, again in New York City. A little research and I discovered that three people have been pushed onto the New York City subway tracks in the past week. Insane.

For as long as I can remember, I have made a point of never standing close to the tracks if anyone is nearby, no matter where I am in the world. And just to be clear, I’ve taken the NYC subway hundreds of times and many trains around the world. But I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. You probably have a better chance of getting hit by lightning than having this happen to you … but why take a chance? That’s why I always stand in the middle of the platform, behind a post or close to a wall until the train arrives. Plus, not crowding around the edge of the platform also gives room to the passengers trying to get off.

On a related note regarding freak accidents, I also don’t take a chance when I’m waiting at a crosswalk to cross the street. Many years ago, my next door neighbor’s 14-year-old daughter was killed by a tour bus’ oversized side mirror while on a school trip to Paris because she was too close to the curb. The bus was making a right turn and she was on the edge of the sidewalk. Ever since that terrible accident, I’ve made it a point to always stand well back from the end of the sidewalk. In fact, I’m almost always behind a street lamp pole, just in case a vehicle loses control.

I know standing behind subway posts and street lamps on the street might sound totally crazy but sometimes we all need to be a little more aware of our surroundings because accidents and freakish things do happen. And hopefully these tips help to keep you and those you love safe.


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16 Comments On "My Somewhat Freakish Travel Habit Might Just Save Your Life"
  1. Jim Suss|

    Great advice Johnny!! You and the family have a GREAT Thanksgiving and please, stay safe.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Thank you! You too

  2. Benesse|

    I live in NYC and have done exactly what you said for 30 years. Also, when crossing a one-way street I look BOTH ways. That’s because it’s not unusual that delivery bikes, and people on all sorts of electric modes of transportation often go the wrong way and do not even stop at lights. People have been seriously injured by being hit out of nowhere.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Thanks! Great tip. I do the same thing but we might have to make this a tip if we haven’t already


    Hey johnny, i’m a New Yorker and give the same advice to my friends and family when it comes to subway platforms, i always stand by the wall, people like to stand by the edge of platform looking for the train to come, and i always try to stand behind the light pole on the corner, while sometimes i see people walk in to poles while looking down at their phone too, lol, thanks for your newsletters, hope to fly back to South America sometime next year! stay safe you and your family!

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Thanks for the note! Same to you and your family

  4. Clare|

    A tour guide at the Grand Canyon said never stand closer to the rim than your height. That way, if you fall, you won’t fall in.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Great tip!

  5. Frederic Douglas|

    100% Johnny Jet. Be careful to live another day.

  6. Buzzy Gordon|

    Even when steps/stairs are wide and not wet, I always use the handrail. You never know when someone in a hurry can brush past and knock you off balance. And even though a fall is unlikely to be a serious, who wants their day (or trip) ruined by something so avoidable?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Great tip, Buzzy!

  7. Gary McKee|

    Hi Johnny from Toronto. Here I thought I was the weird one for always standing next to walls on platforms. Some of them have suicide barriers particularly in Japan but that’s the exception. A mentally ill person could easily ruin your day

  8. Patrick|

    Many years ago, in the early ’80s, I left work at the end of the day to walk the two blocks to the old East Bay bus terminal in San Francisco (where the Salesforce tower is now). As I approached the crosswalk at Mission & Fremont I saw a man covering a woman’s body with his coat. I looked up Fremont and saw several people laying in the gutter bleeding and being attended to by others. Ambulances were just then coming down Fremont.

    An SF Muni bus had gone out of control and careened through the intersection and up the street, taking out people in crosswalks and those in lines along the curb waiting for buses. Several people were killed. Ever since I’ve always stood well back from the curb.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      OMG. What a terrible experience

  9. Benita Page|

    Another thing to consider whether at home or traveling….when you enter a building, immediately look for alternative exits. If there is a serious incident, you already have alternatives. Also, in big box stores, know that you can go through the loading docks to get out.

    In hotels, know exactly where at least two sets of exit stairs are located. If it is smoky, you might get confused. And it’s been said before but bears repeating, count the rows on an airplane (both in front and in back of your row) to the exits.

    1. Johnny Jet|

      Great tip! Might use it for a future reader tip. Thanks!

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