New York City has more nicknames than it does buildings, but nothing describes it better than dubbing it “The Concrete Jungle.” Here, it won’t be lions or tigers that test your survival skills, as the real beasts are the 9 million people who call NYC, home. With such clutter, it’s easy to get swept up in the riptide of perpetual commuter traffic which is anything but a walk in the park. See, while yellow cabs, Ubers, CitiBike, and the MTA certainly offer viable transit options, the main means of movement has, and will always be, on foot. We strut like no other city in the world, which has spurred quite the reputation when it comes to mans oldest modus. Rush hour here is complete anarchy, but that’s because most locals walk the streets with the sole intention of moving from point A to B. Our deadlines are rigid and the sidewalks are narrow, a duality that’s created the NYC-stride of intention and inertia. Heads down and horns out, this city walks with purpose. For you tourists flush with wanderlust of our daily marvels, here’s what you need to know to march with the ranks and not get trampled.
Never Stop Moving
Ferris Beuller went down in Hollywood history with his refreshingly juvenile outlook on the world and all it’s splendor. “Life moves pretty fast,” he crooned. “If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.” Well, the only thing that moves faster than life is a New York minute. While the brownstones aren’t going anywhere, the 2,000 people walking behind you most definitely are. Avenues and streets switch off in terms of Ped-Xing, so make like a deck of cards and shuffle. If you need to cross the street and you’re getting the red hand of god, then trot across the avenue. There’s no reason to stop on corners unless you’re up in harlem grabbing an 8 ball from Tommy Two-Tones.
Out Then In
This one refers to a few things in da streets. Elevators, trains, busses, and taxis all have two way flow, but the unspoken law is let the people exit before your dumbass enters! Honestly, this one is just common courtesy and offers the path of least resistance. While Wall Street bankers are only buying you a vodka tonic to get in your pants, chivalry is NOT dead. People act like it’s 4th and Goal with 20 seconds left on the clock, but I promise you the doors stay open long enough to sardine yourself in with the rest of the lot. This also is a good time to mention the need for deodorant and trimmed fingernails, as you’re kissing your personal space goodbye.
The NYPD is increasing the fines issued for WWT’s or “Walking While Texting” (kidding). Don’t be the guy trying to catch Pokemon on Madison Ave or scrolling through GMail unless you want to catch the fade. Hopefully your lashing is just a firm elbow to your kidney, but sometimes, Manhattans foot soldiers will exterminate the comprise, sending that fancy iPhone of yours to the concrete. Neither New York City, nor the world can be enjoyed through an LCD screen, so if you’re going to text, do it next.
Of course we live in a city with an unmatched amount of stimulation. People travel far and wide to see the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and the rest of New York’s impressive eye candy. One sense that isn’t pleasant here though, is the infeasible decibel level it can reach. While this city is a thousand things, it’s not music to the ears so soundproof yourself as best you can. Maybe I’m wrong, but the combination of union workers twisting steal, police sirens blaring, and curbside profanity is sonically appalling. Throw the headphones in, splurge for noise cancelling, and save yourself the inevitable migraine. The F train whizzing by is worse than a chainsaw cutting glass and construction is ceaseless. Soundtrack these scenic wonders with your own choice of tunes to create your own avant-garde moments.
LOOK Where You Are Going
This isn’t a snippet from traffic school way back in 11th grade or momma’s dinner table quip. No, this is a psychological technique that the savvy pedestrian can utilize to cut through a crowd like a hot butter knife. When walking, look at your path and commit to it with unwavering focus. Cornerbacks do this in football, as the eyes hint towards ones planned vector. Set your sights on the Starbucks two stores down, and you’ll walk like Moses through the red sea. It’s a beautiful thing and it works like a charm. Once you make eye contact with oncoming traffic, you’re left becomes their right and the dance of the fiddler crabs begins. My record is 6 jukes back and forth with a lovely Chinese lady on Bleecker Street, but it made my week to be honest. “Whoops, sorry.”
Don’t “Upstream” Someone
Okay I admit this pearl didn’t come from my own brain but instead from comedic genius Larry David. Upstreaming is when you position yourself higher up a one way street to hail a cab, when someone was already on the verge of hyperventilating as they blow their rape whistle trying to grab a car. New York’s unofficial colors are Yankee Blue and Taxi Cab Yellow. If you see someone waiting, don’t try to cheat the system and move up the avenue…karma’s a bitch and fish drown when they fight the current.
Watch The Gap
Our obesity issue is barring us from fitting through the insatiable gap, but the space between train and platform has a voracious appetite for cell phones and briefcases. The last thing we need is more train delays in the subterranean world of NYC. Big step now.
Lights Have No Authority, But Officials Do
If the traffic light is red and there’s not a car in sight, well then by all means, carry on. Cops have no time for the infinitesimal crime that is pedestrian violations…while this isn’t Murder City Chicago, there are still bigger fish to fry here. Police do have the right to stop you to let cars leave parking garages and moderate rush hour traffic though, so just swallow the 5 second inconvenience. Respect the badge. While police have become persona-non-grata, they are truly New York’s finest.
Central Park is basically the only place you’ll find a lawn here, but New York is soooo 2018 in that we don’t keep of the grass (cough, cough). Marijuana is decriminalized and honestly, your nostrils will pick up so many scents at once that it’s impossible to weed out what smell is coming from where. So, while the Big Apple is no Amsterdam, keeping moving and you’re safe to spark! A spliff of course will help disguise the ganja, but again, there’s bigger fish to fry.
At the end of the day, New York City is just one big community space that suffers from the tragedy of the commons. With shared municipalities, it’s essential to respect people or at least stay out of each others way. While we live in the jungle, the animalian embodiment of New York is actually the small, but mighty ant. That’s right, we’re not rats or pigeons like you Bostonian motherfuckers may believe, but the pint sized creatures thriving in an oversized biome. Why the ant? Because it is the strongest animal relative to its size, and is capable of carrying loads nearly 100x heavier than itself, just like we New Yorkers do. With climbing rents, taxes, and asinine living costs, New Yorkers leave the comfort of their homes to go out and bring a bone back to their family day in and day out. We shoulder burdens far heavier than ourselves to award ourselves real estate to the greatest city in the world? As the Midnight Cowboy says, “I’m walwking hee!!”