Saturday, January 8, 2011

"queer" subway behaviour

In this new age of smart phones, ipods and electronic book readers when you enter a subway car you can not help but notice how the majority of people are absorbed by their devices.  In the old days - and not too long ago - you would have instead been greeted by the sight of many newspapers held outstretched.

The newspapers are still there but sadly reduced in number.  Amongst the people still reading the newpaper I've noticed a preponderance of this queer behaviour.   It was there before, but now seems to be more common with the leftover newspaper readers.  I call them "the paper shredders."

I've only seen women do it, usually elderly, but not always.  The reader flips through the paper, seems to be interested in an article and then proceeds to tear the page out of the paper, fold it in quarters and then push it into her oversized purse.  At first I thought it was because there was an important article they wanted to read in depth at a later time, maybe an ad or a coupon they wanted, or they were saving the crossword.  All my guesses in trying to explain this behaviour are discarded as the newspaper reader continues to rip page after page after page, fold them individually and put them in her purse until the whole paper is reduced in this manner.

The newspaper reader never actually reads the paper.  The time spent looking at it is never long enough to do more than scan the headlines.   More time is spent ripping the page, folding it, opening the purse, stuffing the paper in, closing the purse, lifting the paper back up, ripping out another page, folding it, re-opening the purse, over and over again.

I'm completely perplexed.

It truly is a queer behaviour.


  1. I've also seen these shredders. Perhaps they are hoarders who are always thinking "For future reference". Maybe they are just ritualizers who don't know why they do it. You are going to have to find a way to engage one in conversation. At our Starbucks, we have a cousin of the "Shredder". She is an "Underliner" and she comes equipt with a variety of colored markers. I've tried to crack the code: which articles get which color, but I can't figure it out, and almost everything in the paper gets highlighted!

  2. Perhaps they're attempting to include them into a scrapbook of sorts. Weird.

  3. Actually, their pet birds have requested to be intellectually stimulated with interesting articles to be put at the bottom of the cage.