I'm not sure if it's a matter of upbringing or neurological endowment, but New York City commuters seem to be unable to sense the critical moment when their expansive, sweaty flesh gently abuts another human being. Sure, we've all experienced a lovable scamp who doesn't seem to understand that his awful body has crossed over into foreign territory, but what's even more insufferable is the moment when this cretin leans into it, as if he's discovered a magic cushion in the subway car. No sir, that's my elbow. You're sitting on my elbow.
On the newer trains, each bench is bookended by metal railings that form a sort of grating that separates those standing by the doors from those sitting at the end of the bench. On the older trains, these gratings were actually solid walls through which no flesh could pass. Now, loose skin can creep, like jelly through the tines of a fork, through the piping and rest on the shoulder of whatever unsuspecting dope is unfortunate enough to be sitting beneath it. I am, more often than not, that very dope. What I find shocking is that the owner of the flab pressing against mine rarely acknowledges we're touching. Either these folks don't have nerve endings in their asscheeks, or, to them, this is acceptable contact, a sort of agreed upon evil we all must endure. Now, if I were to jump up and kiss them tenderly on the nape of their neck, I have a strong feeling that the social contract would be rendered null and void.
What I don't understand is how anyone can be comfortable with rubbing up against a stranger. Of course, there are perverts, but most of the time I'm being molested by regular people. I can sense immediately when any part of my body is near someone else's. As a result, I rarely step on toes, I know instinctively when to move to a less intrusive position, and I most certainly know when my skin is dangerously close to alien beings. Hell, this sensation even extends to where my BAG is in space, much less my person. Do people not FEEL the presence of someone else? If so, doesn't it creep them out?