I hate feeling smothered. I detest the feeling of someone literally breathing down my neck. But most of all, I despise sharing the same pole on the train, because sooner or later that moment is going to arrive when someone’s hand slips and touches mine. Get the fuck away from me!
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I hate welcoming complete strangers into my personal space, because the disturbing sense of being practically molested by the men, women and children of New York City on a day-by-day basis no longer fazes me. No, as a New Yorker you grow accustomed to it. You may not like it, but you have to come to terms with it. New York is a big city and it’s also a busy one. Still, I just feel that some of these inbred hellions purposely avoid the unwritten rules of etiquette within the small confines of a public environment.
This problem is especially prevalent in Midtown Manhattan. It’s an area I try my best to avoid. Unfortunately, I’ve been stuck frequenting the home of the workforce zombies for about a month, because of work. And, as an unconventional zombie, I have had to develop new tactics on how not to get trampled during rush hour, how not to lose my cool when someone coughs up their lung on my sleeve, and how to avoid awkward eye contact on the train with the drunken man in a wheel chair dressed like Toucan Sam.
Life is hard. But, these tips just might help a novice New Yorker survive the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. Trust me; I’ve been doing this for 26 years.
Morning Rush – I’ve already touched on this, but like most zombies, your average New Yorker is running on a limited amount of sleep. However, instinct does kick in when searching for that seat on the train/bus, rushing to work, and getting in line for breakfast. Before you even think of leaving your home, you must know what you’re doing, where you’re going and what you want.
Do you have enough money on your Metrocard? What form of transportation are you taking? Which end of the train leaves you near the exit that’s closer to work? Are you going to have breakfast at home, or are you ordering food at a café/deli? If so, what are you getting? So on, and so on. These are the important details you must know.
Once you have that planned, you just let your legs and memories do the work. Once you become skilled enough that you can do this with your eyes closed, you can use people to help you to your advantage.
For example, last Thursday I took an alternative route to work. Bad idea. I caught myself in a stampede inside of Penn Station. (A word of advice—Long Islanders are dangerous. If you see one running in your direction, get the fuck out of their way.) I’m an expert at avoiding people, but Penn Station could be treacherous and extremely intimidating for an out-of-towner. So what did I do? I found the biggest fat-ass and used him as a shield. The suits & ties bounced off of this guy like bullets striking Superman. It was amazing. Once I found my window to freedom, I hopped on the nearest homeless man and propelled myself to safety.
Eye Contact – Holy mushroom turds! Nothing is more awkward than making eye contact with a stranger. Especially, when that stranger is staring you down, and proceeds to videotape you as two promiscuous girls perform oral sex on you and friend on the 6 train. Weeeeeeeeeeeeird.
Fortunately, I’m a playful guy. This just means that I like to make a subtle game out of it. If I even catch you remotely looking in my direction, I’m going to stare at you like a psychopath and make funny faces until one of us exits the train, leaves the restaurant, or a policeman approaches me.
For those looking for another alternative, you can simply look down, fiddle with your phone or bring some reading material with you. Are you scared to look down? Don’t have a phone? Can’t read? No problem. Pick a spot. Any spot. Stare at it. When the bus or train stops, look around like you don’t where you are. Act like you’re lost. Appear interested in the ads and signs around you and read them.
Lunch – This one sucks. Let’s say you’re in the mood for Korean, but there is only one Korean spot nearby. What are you going to do? You know it’s going to be packed. Unless you know they deliver, you’re pretty much fucked.
This is the best advice that I can give you: learn the menu and have your order ready. This not only makes thing convenient for you, but also the workers at the restaurant. During the lunch rush, nobody wants to deal with some jackass that isn’t sure what he wants. Think of ordering lunch as a one night stand—in and out. (Speaking of In and Out, we need one in New York.)
Homeless People – New York’s homeless can either be helpful, annoying or entertaining. I still haven’t completely mastered the art of dealing with the homeless, but here are a few things that I have learned.
They’re great at giving directions, they’re willing to entertain you while you’re waiting, and the reasonable ones don’t ask for much. The homeless are people, too. Don’t look down on them, because your broke-ass is about a really bad stretch of luck away from being homeless yourself.
Evening Rush – The evening rush, ugh. In New York, this is considered the unofficial race to get home. Each day the winner receives a urinary tract infection. Hooray!
If the morning rush is full of zombies, those zombies pattern themselves after the slow, traditional, George A. Romero types. We can handle that. Regrettably, those zombies awaken and the evening rush walkers culminate into those 28 Days Later, World War Z, “holy shit, they can run” type zombies.
The evening rush is essentially the morning rush on steroids. The same rules apply, except everyone is trying to get home. Remember what I said about Long Islanders? Yeah, those savages will do anything to catch their LIRR trains. Honestly, it almost appears as if they work as a cohesive unit. I’ve seen grandmothers get body slammed. As humorous as it may sound, it’s a scary sight. Be careful.
The best piece of advice I can relay to you is the same piece of advice Jenny gave Forest—RUN!