Sunday, May 30, 2010

sangria cures motion sickness

walking is easily my most preferred means of locomotion in the city.  easily.  however, i guess you can't be a new yorker until you have hailed a cab (and perhaps feared for your life whilst riding in it the first time) and until you have navigated the subway.

i crossed the cab off my list when J and i bought an ottoman in chelsea and were unable to (gracefully) carry it back to the village.  else, i have limited cab rides to trips home from the airport.  let's just say i would understand driving at a constant high speed to get to one's destination sooner (were it possible to actually drive at constant high speed) ... i do not, however, understand rapid acceleration from one stoplight followed by rapid deceleration to stop at the following light.  it is as though these cab drivers are bored or have an abnormally high drive for risk-taking behavior.  i mean, truly, how many people must, ahem, lose their lunches in your cab before you change your behavior?  fortunately for me, i am well aware of my own abnormally low threshold for motion sickness, and i have avoided entering a cab with either an empty stomach or without ginger ale (i have yet to discover why motion sickness is worst with an empty stomach - i just know it to be true anecdotally).  nonetheless, i have managed to keep the contents of my stomach to myself.  but, as i discovered from asking one cab driver how often passengers became ill in his cab (have no worries - i asked him this very politely and only caused him minor noticeable alarm), a lunch lost in a cab is not an especially uncommon outcome.  i noticed that as he answered, and for the remainder of the trek to the village, his driving became considerably less erratic.  thus, should you find yourself feeling ill in a nyc cab, i recommend pleasant conversation that directs the driver's attention toward a potential consequence of his/her driving (i inserted the "/her" to be politically correct ... but i have never seen a female cab driver ... i think perhaps this is a topic for another day).

subways, in contrast, are not nearly as likely to instigate an unpleasant visceral response.  i don't remember having any notable complaints with subway/elevated trains in chicago, dc, or boston.  and i don't remember the subway causing significant discomfort when i had visited new york in the past.  thus, although with three exceptions in my four month nyc residence, i have avoided taking the subway, i chose to do so not because i feared misplacing my lunch.  rather, i genuinely enjoy walking (and, admittedly, do not enjoy the occasional smell of urine in less than perfectly ventilated enclosures).  nonetheless, you can imagine my surprise this past friday night when one of the rush hour E trains to Queens slapped me with an unprecedented wave of nausea and J informed me that beads of sweat were dripping down my forehead.   perhaps it was because i stood during the entire trip so that older passengers had seats.  or perhaps it was because we were meeting friends for dinner and i had allowed my stomach get a little too empty.  or, who knows, perhaps the conductor had ADD (assuming the operation of the subway is not primarily automated - i have no idea how it works).  all i know is that the other passengers have no idea how narrowly they escaped a truly horrific visceral experience.  three more seconds and they would not have been so lucky.

the trip home was less aversive.  who could say why?  many factors had changed - many more seats were available at 11 o'clock at night than during rush hour, my stomach had something with which to keep it occupied  (digestion) and did not need to resort to nausea as a plea for attention, the train was less crowded, etc.  maybe these factors helped.  but let's be honest - there are few people who make purely rational decisions - few, if any, who conduct careful, controlled scientific experiments before adopting their beliefs.  so if in the vast majority of cases, most people adopt most beliefs for reasons that mostly just reflect the experiences they have already had (and perhaps ignore disconfirming experiences they encounter afterward), isn't it more fun to deliberately choose your irrational belief rather than to unwittingly adopt it?  i choose to believe that sangria cures motion sickness.  and so, my friends, i recommend a glass or two of sangria before setting foot on the subway.  i'm not sure whether it will diminish the scent of urine or, instead, diminish your ability to refrain from commenting on the scent of urine.  either way, perhaps your transportation will be more pleasant.

(as an aside, in theory, i wholeheartedly support public transportation - particularly the subway.  in practice, out of concern for the well-being of my fellow new yorkers and myself, i will continue to rely primarily on my own two legs.)


  1. I think there may be a dose issue with sangria being a cure for motion sickness. Or perhaps it only works for subways and not erratic car rides. My experience: >2 glasses + car = having to concentrate on keeping nausea and the following embarrassment of failure at bay.

    More controlled studies required?

  2. Scrumblebee McGillicuttyMay 30, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    Could it have been the avocado salad instead?

  3. well if you people insist on having things like "facts," i guess i'll do the study. i am looking for healthy volunteers ...

  4. College Student Seeking CashJune 25, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    are you still looking for volunteers?