Category Archives: Things I Hate

Better dead than (Marlboro) red?

Marx

It isn’t really that I even feel attached to the nicotine anymore. I started smoking early on in college, standing around at parties after the beer ran out and needing something to do with my hands. I wanted to look cool for this girl I liked and something about a menthol Camel seemed to do the trick. While it wasn’t much longer before I gave up on the idea of girls, the cigarettes have managed to stick with me years later.

Frat party or not, I still have a need to look detached and derelict if not outright dangerous. Days may go by without cravings, but as soon as I need some stage business while I wait for someone outside of a bar, I reach for my cigarette case (another affectation to try to appear interesting) and light up a five-minute cure for social anxiety.

When you get up in the morning, putting certain things in your pockets—keys, wallet, phone, Xanax—eventually gets burned into your muscle memory. Because I’m not a consistent smoker, a lighter hasn’t quite made its way onto the list of things that will end up in my jeans after I’ve sleepwalked through my morning routine. Inevitably, this means I’ll have to ask a stranger for a light while I’m  filling empty time loitering on the street.

As conversations with strangers go, this one should be fairly simple. Smokers aren’t uncommon, but they still conduct themselves as members of a kind of implied social club—kind of like Jews or Wes Anderson fans. They don’t usually consider the request to be an imposition since they’ve surely been in a similar position before and will be again. Nevertheless, despite a smoker’s willingness to accommodate his tovarishch, the exchange typically reveals the fundamental lack of trust that exists between New Yorkers.

After the brief “where did I put my lighter” dance, your new friend will reach out, cup his hand and attempt to light your cigarette for you. The frustration on his face is evident as he futilely tries to start a fire in a wind tunnel—it’s difficult to light your cigarette on a breezy fall afternoon in the city and virtually impossible to light someone else’s. Still, he isn’t trying to be neighborly, rather that he’s so concerned that you’ll abscond with his precious blue Bic that he’d rather turn a five second transaction into a Sisyphean trial.

Dude, really… what the fuck do you think I’m going to do?

gypsies1Is that my game in your mind? I walk around with a pack of Marlboro Ultra Lights preying on naïve simpletons who didn’t get to the “Protecting Your Valuables” chapter in The New Yorker’s Handbook before they hit a bump and fell off the turnip trick? Did Nancy Grace expose a community of grifters canvassing the city collecting half-beat Texaco lighters before convening in a caravan parked on the outskirts of town? Even if she did, that woman is insane and so are you for listening to her.

There’s no such thing as The Zippo Gang so just let me hold the lighter, asshole. This is an insult to us both.

Don’t buy your hats in Times Square

hatI mostly took a picture of This Guy to prove he wasn’t a figment of my imagination. I’m not sure why he had to travel over 100 blocks to buy a mess of paper towels since I happen to know for a fact that you don’t need any special brand of towel to clean up bong water. Any college Freshman in Marin County knows that, and seeing as this 40 year old man has chosen to dress like one, you’d expect him to be more familiar with their culture.

You can’t tell due to the low-resolution of my Apple SpacePhone’s camera, but his “gold” chain has this logo emblazoned on the dog tag (in full Technicolor). Combined with the hat (which looks like something that black Bart Simpson would wear on one of those bootleg shirts from the 90s), This Guy must really want us to know that he likes reggae but is fine being single for the rest of his life. A little on-the-nose, man… a little on-the-nose. If nothing else, the small “they only give these out at head shops” black plastic bag is enough of a signal alone.

This is nowhere near the meanest thing I’ve said about a stranger today.

Why I usually take the A

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The following things all happened concurrently in my car on the C this afternoon:

-A portly woman sat on a loose, squeaky bench. 

-Some dumbass listening to his iPod rocked and nodded his head distractingly hard while flailing his jazz hands all about.

-Apparently on the way to some sort of audition, another guy stood next to him practicing choreography, nearly falling over at every stop.

-A man with a large bongo drum decided to play for no other reason than that he had a drum.

-A man who apparently had ribs for lunch sat next to me loudly sucking the meat remnants from between his teeth.

-A woman struggled to feed her baby a piece of pound cake that the baby didn’t care for. He naturally expressed himself with piercingly loud crying.

-A couple bickered about nothing.

-Teenagers.

-My head exploded.

I hate those kids that dance on the A

kids-dancingYou know you do to. The subway is just about always packed with people singing, telling sad stories or just generally looking pathetic in an attempt to pry a few shekels from your Canal St. Goyard. For the most part, the sympathy for their presumed misfortune is enough for me to forgive the fact that they’re drowning out my Diane Rehm podcast. Most Saturdays, however, a particular group of kids rides the up and down the A line all afternoon break dancing for money; I hate them.

Maybe it’s the fact that I have to see them so frequently. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re begging for money with the assistance of a new-ish looking iPod Classic. Maybe it’s the fact that, despite having seen their act around a half dozen times, it’s always the same and seems to actually be declining in quality. Maybe it’s the fact that anytime we’re below 59th St. there’s some tourist from Boise, Idaho who finds it all amazing and gives them money. Whatever it is, they’re officially my least favorite beggars.

They don’t dance particularly well–each only has two to three “moves”–and don’t seem to understand how to time their routine around when the train stops and starts. The erratic movements of the train wreak havoc on their already questionable sense of rhythm and timing. Combined with the fact that they pick a heavy traffic time to dance, they often times stumble about the car bumping into people and falling in their laps.

To make things worse, after their poorly choreographed nuisance finally ends, they tend to just stand there and look at the passengers until someone comes to them with money and, in the event that they collect anything, never say “thank-you.” They also tend to count up their donations right in front of everyone and loudly debate whether or not it was worth it to stop in that car, which seems to be off-putting to those who did contribute when the consensus is “no.”

Please, if you’re the giving type, I encourage you to save your spare change for almost anyone else who asks for it. These kids don’t appear to need it, don’t work to deserve it and barely seem to want it. Fuck ’em… I’ve got problems too.