Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Design always matters: In New York, the Metropolitan Transit Authority and Long Island Railroad have paid $102,009.17 to repair clothes torn by armrests in some of their cars, since 2002. The Times says the armrests are 3" longer, and narrower, than the counterparts in older cars, so it's easier for them to slip into pants and jacket pockets. And when the passenger stands up -- Rip City! The result, for the kind of commuter who wears a suit on the Metro-North or LIRR, can be an expensive bill. Makes me wonder if any of the passengers who tested the cars were men in suits... The Times:

An hour spent interviewing Long Island Rail Road riders waiting for trains at Pennsylvania Station last week turned up 13 people, nearly all men, who said they had torn 22 articles of clothing, mostly pants. Only one of them had submitted a claim.

Some men's faces lighted up when asked if they had ever torn their clothing on the armrests, as if they had been waiting to tell someone. Some rattled off a list of complaints about the railroad that only began with a ruined suit. Some seemed to exhibit the classic symptoms of victims of abuse: guilt mixed with anger and shame.

Michael Jerchower, an executive in a brand licensing company who commutes from Oceanside, in Nassau, has torn two pairs of pants, and not long ago, he was sitting (very carefully) on a train when he heard the telltale rip across the aisle. As he turned to look he noticed two other men turning toward the unhappy victim.

He recalled, "Each of us nodded our heads and said, 'That's happened to us.' "

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