A Guide to the New York City Subway for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders
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A Guide to the New York City Subway for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders
Getty Images

And for everyone else, too, because it actually is kind of hard.

Yesterday, as Hillary Clinton campaigned in New York in advance of the state's upcoming primary, she decided to join to rest of us common folk and take a ride on the New York City subway. She wasn't very good at it. Videos emerged of her struggling to swipe her MetroCard through the turnstile, and New Yorkers snickered. A few days before that, her rival Bernie Sanders bungled a comment in an interview when he said that, to get on the subway, "You get a token and you get on." Tokens have not been used on the subway in over a decade.

In light of both Democratic contenders' commuting ineptitude, we put together a brief guide for getting on the New York subway.

  • Tokens? Bernie. Come on. The last time tokens were used, a Facebook was just a hardcover collection of headshots. Try taking yours to a merry-go-round and see if they work there.
  • So, yes, you'll need a MetroCard. And when you get one, the machine asks you to "dip" your credit or debit card. Dip? Dip my card? In what, salsa? What they mean is "insert" or "swipe." But instead they say "dip." It took me a while to get over this. The advice here, Bernie, is not to let the vocabulary get to your head. Except for the vocabulary regarding "token" versus "card."
  • I kind of want to take a...swipe...at Hillary for her snafu, but I've actually been there. I've lived in New York for over two years, and I still mess up the MetroCard swipe sometimes. I haven't gone to the tape to analyze Hillary's form, but I'm guessing wrist control was the issue. Hillary, you'll need to keep a flexible wrist and grasp the card delicately with your fingertips. Be sure to keep the card crisply horizontal, with the little slanted edge positioned up and towards yourself (think "up and at 'em"), and slide at a medium pace. It's all about control.
  • MTA Metro Card
  • Power moves only. Even if you can't swipe properly, you can be assertive. New York City's pace is lightining quick, so pick the first open turnstile you see and commit. Waffling is bad in politics and commuting.
  • Bring a lighter. Some of New York's subway stations are brimming with incredible musicians and performers, and you'll probably want an encore.

And that's just before you actually board the train. The cars themselves are a whole other story, and above ground is a different world.

Chris Abell is an editorial producer at Travel+Leisure. You can follow him on Instagram at @buildingflavors.

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