A word-processor finds himself in the holding cell of a precinct house, having been arrested for putting his backpack down in an empty seat next to him in an empty subway car, working the night shift at a firm in Manhattan.
Criminal 1: What are you in for?
Criminal 2: I took up an extra seat on the subway with my bag.
Criminal 2: Hey man, i didn't mean nothing by it, just don't make me your bitch.
Criminal 1: Pardon?
Criminal 2: I know all about you seat grabbers. there's no tougher guys in this pen. See that guy over there? With three teardrops tattooed under his eye? That means he's a killer. See that gash on his forehead? Just the other day he tried to push around one of you guys and he got blasted.
Criminal 1: What you mean?
Criminal 2: Samsonite three-incher attache case. Black guy wearing a Phillipe-Patek. They thought he was a drug dealer, but he turned out to be a Wall street broker and he lawyered up and is suing their City asses for half-a-million for false arrest I hear. Those Samsonites leave a mark. And you, you've got, what? A Swiss army laptop backpack. The one with the braided wire handle. Those can kill man, you hit a guy in the neck with that handle. I just wanna live man.
Criminal 1: What are you talking about? I'm just a data entry guy working in the back of a law firm.
Criminal 2: So you're lawyered up already, wow. Big firm?
Criminal 1: Well actually...Dewey, Skruum and Howe.
Criminal 2: That's heavy man, where did you get the bread for a big name defense firm like that?
Criminal 1: Actually, they do white collar crime, but I work for them, they're not my law...
Criminal 2: Sure man, whatever you say. I got no part in your business. I mean I don't even wanna know. If I know, they gonna drag me out of here and make me tell 'em everything or send me upstate forever. I don't want to get involved with you bigs.
Criminal 1: What do you mean?
Criminal 2: White collar, sure, so RICO right? You're in the family...
Criminal 1: No not real...
Criminal 2: Don't speak, please, sir! I don't even want to hear it... just let me be here, in the holding pen at the precinct. You want cigarettes, I can get you...
Criminal 1: Actually I don't smoke. Besides there's a sign that says no smoking right over...
Criminal 2: Cigs are for cash in the can. Besides, that sign, that's for us, not you. Subway-seat beaters live the high life in the can.
Criminal 1: But I was just on the F train and it stopped at Rockefeller Center and the next thing I know some cop is arresting me because I set the bag in the seat next to me...and it was 2 a.m. and the car was empty except for him and me.
Criminal 2: Yea sure, I know the beef. But it's the end of the month. I guess with you being a big shot and all, you never ride the trains, just take the limo when you need to go someplace, right? Everyone here knows not to take up two seats or put a foot up on the seat in front of you on the subway end of the month, that's when the cops have to fill their bust-a-month quota. So instead of a 50 dollar ticket, you get hauled in here.
Criminal 1: But that's crazy. Fifty dollars for setting a briefcase down next to you in an empty car is nuts.
Criminal 2: Tell me about it, but that's why you gotto know your law, if you want to get by in the pen...or the New York subway system. Wait, there's a Times sitting over here, let me show you:
...sitting improperly on a subway seat. Seven years ago, rule 1050(7)(J) of the city's transit code criminalized what was once simply bad etiquette: passengers putting their feet on a subway seat. They also cannot take up more than one seat if it interferes with other passengers' comfort, nor can they block movement on a subway by doing something like standing too close to the doors.
Police officers handed out more than 6,000 tickets for these violations in 2011. But a $50 ticket would have been welcome compared with the trouble many passengers found themselves in; roughly 1,600 people....were arrested, sometimes waiting more than a day to be brought before a judge and released, according to statistics from district attorneys' offices.
Criminal 1: That's crazy. Fifty bucks for setting a bag down next to me? It takes me half-a-day to earn that.
Criminal 2: Cheap at the price pal. Look at it like this: how long you in for this time?
Criminal 1: I've been here for hours...12 hours, so far.
Criminal 2: That's nothing. You got time to go before you get to see a judge, just so you can plead guilty and pay the fine and get to work.
Criminal 1: But that means it costs me about 200 dollars.
Criminal 2: Well, next time be a wise guy, you should pardon the expression. Take a cab.