The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

The Ways in Which Times Square Makes me Furious

By e. kirshe

A disclaimer: Before you read the title and offer genuine advice about avoiding such an infuriating place I will tell you that, sadly, I work there and must navigate those putrid streets daily.

It has been slowly eating my soul.

To some Times Square is the beating heart of the city. It is alive with light and energy and conveniently towards the middle (like a heart!). The people who think this are tourists and they make me furious.

To tourists: I understand, I really do, that you’ve traveled, sometimes far, to be here and it’s all very new and exciting. What I don’t understand is why that makes you so damn rude.

That’s right, it’s not us, it’s you.

Every day when I walk to work I am forced to shove my way through crowds of tourists who yell at me for disrupting their right to stand dead in the middle of a very crowded street to take photos.

What is it with you people? You’ve heard the stereotype of rude New Yorkers and this is a preemptive strike? Or do you not notice that we’re all trying to get someplace and not just native window dressing to your perfect selfie in front of a Coca-Cola ad?

Have you not learned how to walk properly? I’ll admit this one has troubled me for some time. But after days of in and out weaving and shoving to get around people who just will not listen to a strained “excuse me” I’ve been developing theories. I’ve heard tell that in a lot of places around the globe and even the tri-state area most people drive to places even in their own neighborhood. So if your meandering slow stride is truly from a lack of practice then… that’s sad. I apologize.

If it seems like my hyped up rage at normal, everyday, people is fume-fueled that’s because it is. But not the fumes you’re thinking of- I’ve been drinking in this air since birth. The fumes I’m referring to are the ones of the tightly packed spray paint artists who make designs for tourists.

On a summer’s day inhaling paint actually makes the 100+ degree weather worse. Also, the artists are usually pretty talented. This makes the aforementioned tourists swarm around them and form a pretty solid blockade that will likely force me into oncoming traffic.

And then there are the Creep Street Cartoon Characters. If you’re unfamiliar, they haunt the streets closest to Toys R’US and radiate out in smaller clumps from there. They wear full body costumes of beloved children’s characters and if you are with a child, or appear to be looking at them, they will come after you. They will pose with you and your children for tips and generally speaking are terrifying. I could write a whole article devoted to their antics. To their plastic, off-kilter, dead staring eyes and their matted fur….they haunt my dreams.

Can you show me how to get, how to get to Creep Street?

Like moths to brightly lit advertisements people can’t get enough of this place. People shopping at chain stores that they almost definitely have at home (why did you come here?). Sad, lost souls, waiting on line like it’s Disneyland- except there’s another H&M one avenue over. Chain restaurants that already suck but also cost more here than anywhere else. The Nederlander theater currently housing Newsies instead of RENT. And all of this seen in slow motion as I cannot make my way down the street at a normal pace.

Times Sq. is itself a thing that creates chaos and monotony. Its famous visage draws the tourists who attract the artists, performers, and the Creep Street Cartoon Characters all of which stop up more foot traffic as they generate more picture taking. This combines to boil the blood and clog the senses. I move through here and I am not myself. I am a thing of fury, loathing all, and there is no escape.

So mostly, it’s the tourists. Sorry tourists.

60 Comments

  1. This could almost be me writing about my three years spent in my lovely, quirky, poetry-filled but sadly tourist-ridden Key West in the mid-nineties. My friends there still wonder that I got out alive without the touristas beating the hell out of me. I share your disdain and sadness.

  2. As a tourist who was in NYC for the first time in February, I love this so much! I completely agree! The same happens in London too (though we’re less busy than NYC).

  3. As a NYC tourist, who did stop by Times Square, I really appreciate this rant.
    First, I love that you acknowledged the stereotype of rude New Yorkers, only because we were so unbelievably shocked at how polite and helpful New Yorkers were! For example, every time we pulled out a map on the subway someone offered to help us figure out where we were going. Our experience was filled with positivity from locals, and some rudeness/pushiness from other tourists.
    Secondly, those street cartoon characters are really weird. Like really weird….
    Third, I suspect if it were not for the tourists, time’s square would not be the thing that it is today. Like all tourist destinations, there has to be a reason to go. Sometimes its picturesque scenery (i.e. Canadian Rocky Mountains), other times its insanity and chaos for the sake of insanity and chaos and probably consumerism (i.e. Times Square).
    Anyways, I enjoyed the rant. Hope your walk to work tomorrow is more pleasurable.

  4. I walk through it just about every day too. I used to be a walker with a smile on my face. Not anymore.

  5. Thanks for the heads up. I have never understood the self centered and disrepectful among us. It does pay the bills though….Hahaha

  6. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

  7. I have to say I was in NY. And of course it is very exciting. We took hundreds of photos, my only complaint was that one particular action figured told us how much of a tip they wanted. Needless to say we didn’t tip them.

    All the others got a nice tip from us snd we thankef them for taking pictures with us

  8. Love this rant…was just there and I can so relate…lol

  9. I, too, have to walk through that putrid hell every day. I could have the best day ever at work and that walk back to the subway will still put me in a very sour mood. The problem is the tourists don’t get that our sidewalks are highways and walkers should adhere to those rules. Walk on the right. Get out of the way before you stop. Please, oh please, do not walk side-by-side! That’s what we get for living in the most iconic city on Earth, right?

  10. I feel this same way about Hollywood. I’ll never understand why so many people come here and just stand around oblivious to people trying to get around them. We don’t have Creep Street characters; we have fake Marilyn Monroes.

  11. I feel your pain. I work near “Ground Zero” and I want to tell the tourists that unless they are grieving for someone they knew who was killed on 9/11- get lost. There is nothing to see. Go to a real museum.

  12. I’m thinking there is a condition called Tourism Syndrome (TS). It’s a malady that shuts down the thinking portions of the brain. How else to explain the people in front of you at customs and immigration who step one pace through the doorway to the airport receiving area and stop, effectively blocking the route to everyone behind them. It happens so consistently, TS must be epidemic.

  13. Not a New Yorker, but a city gal who understands the frustration of people who walk slowly/stand still on pedestrian sidewalks. City people aren’t “rude”, there are just too many of us, and more of us who are psycho/crazy/con-artists, so we are just strategic about who we dedicate our minutes to.

  14. Tell us what is really on your mindsky. In my country, we roll tourists in sugar and flour and eat them for supper.

  15. I promise to keep all this in mind when I visit NYC for the first time next month! Thank you for sharing. I always appreciate honesty.

  16. I believe I’ve been to Time Square about 6 times in my life. Looking back, the first thing I think about when I think of Time Square is that Toys R Us and those irrepressible stares of those characters. Maybe you’re right and they accessed the part of my brain that can’t be scrubbed by nonproffesional means. LOL

    Thanks for this post. It brings back some good memories.

  17. I’ve not been to New York, but yes, Hollywood is the same way on a smaller scale. I used to live and work within blocks of Hollywood Blvd for years…although I have to admit I loved it, there were a couple of spots I simply went around just to not walk through the tourists…

  18. Okey, I promise that if I ever end up on Times Squar, I will be politen and friendly. I will walk like normal people walk (or at least like I always walk!). I will not stand in line for something that has the identical store a few walks from there. AND no dumb ass selfies! I promise!

  19. My wife and I discuss often, my rule about licensing. Certain cities have taught me one thing about heavily populated areas, and I think there should be some form of legislation. As vital as a driver’s license has been, they need to impose a walking license. Yes, a walking license. The way some people maneuver on the street while walking, it’s as if they have no sense of direction and concern for other walkers. This is no different than bad drivers on the roads.

  20. Saddens me to return to USA after long travels abroad, to rediscover how unkind, negative, aggressive, policed, intolerant and judgmental most Americans have become. the list grows long of reasons that make the desire to get back on the first plane out of here so much greater.

  21. It’s not the tourist’s fault- it’s the urban planning. A walking license obviously wouldn’t work, but there could be dedicated walking/bike lanes- places where you can’t stop to take photos. I have to cross a bridge every morning and it’s tourist chaos until I get to the shared pedestrian bike paths. It can make me grumpy, but I am mad at the urban planners for not having this path on the bridge. It’s pointless to be mad at the tourists. Don’t tell me you’ve never rubbernecked while on vacation!

  22. I completely understand your feelings. Just trying to navigate around New York period is hard because every where you go there are huge groups of tourists that just decide to stop dead in the middle of a high traffic street. I now have to bob and weave and jog down the block just to get ahead of the of them so I can walk at a normal pace. Times Square is just that times 100. It’s annoyingly busy and those costume characters are the creepiest! My friend was scared of them so she was like oh no we gotta go cross the street now. And as he was getting nearer, the “Elmo” started singing some song saying: ‘all the little girls…’ or something equally as creepy and I was like ah hell no, and ran across the street. When I look back he was just staring at us. I never thought I’d have a fear of getting murdered by an Elmo

  23. E – it’s something you quick realize when you move to New York City. You’re friends want to come visit and the first place they want to go is Times Square. You get that save me feeling in the pit of your stomach.

    I feel your pain that you must trek there on a daily basis. It’s the people. When you’re walk through Times Square with somewhere to go, there is no worse feeling then being bumped into by the deer in the headlights tourist here to see Elmo.

    Erik
    http://erikconover.com/

  24. I went to NYC first time as a student and admit I was in awe of times square. Second time this year? Its just felt a kinda tacky and weird. Like Blackpool. I am a fast walker and I got annoyed with people gawking up at times square. The most exciting thing I saw was a man getting arrested! I didn’t eat much there, I just went to Bubba gump shrimp which wasn’t too badly priced and tasted good too! but yeah agree its too much.x

    http://WWW.Keziahlockwood.Wordpress.co.uk

  25. Nice one! PS: Those ‘Creep Street Cartoon Characters’ traumatized my brother, he is tos cared to watch sesame street which I find really said, sesame street was my life and now my little brother can’t have that.

  26. I feel you! Whenever I’m in NYC, which is about once a month, I avoid Times Square like I avoid brushing up against a hooker on the train. I’ll take the long way around, thank you.

  27. I have been a Times Square tourist (a repeat offender also) – but I have to say that though a tourist, I share your views that a large number of fellow tourists are incredibly rude. I have also been accosted by the Creep Cartoon Character you have featured on your blog and it was not a pleasant experience.

    For me, being a tourist, I want to enjoy the places I visit as they should be – absorb myself within the ‘normal’ happenings of a place rather than attract attention to myself for all of the wrong reasons.

    I have every sympathy with your rant and it makes me more determined to continue to be an inoffensive observer rather than a rude disrupter when I visit new places.

  28. Reblogged this on MProse and commented:
    So true!! Lol!!

  29. Excellent Rant!!!! I know exactly how you feel..lol..

  30. its one big advertisement!

  31. Hahaha I used to think Times Square was a magical, exciting place! I now understand why the locals avoid this place at all costs (if they can) after living in NY for a couple of months. Scarier than the Elmos are the naked ladies. Why is that legal here?!

  32. I love this rant of yours! Although it’s probably nowhere near as bad as what you’re going through, I personally hate living in the capital city of my country for the same reason – tourists just don’t know how to walk or even stand so that all the people with places to go and things to do can get by them.

  33. I am a traveler. I also hate it. Incredibly valid points. I hate the stupidity of those that think all of the chain restaurants and chain stores are just the best thing out. Try sitting in a small bar or cafe in a back alley somewhere and you will find the real New York. The only thing good about Times Square is the sometimes amazing shows that you can find going on there 🙂

  34. I work in a theme park and see tons of tourists. Some, in fact most are great but then again they are there for the attractions. There is a small group that expects above the fringe treatment. They are usually nasty and vulgar. But that is the mix.

  35. I was a tourist there in Nov. to run the New York City marathon, probably a separate rant you could write about, right? 😉 Anyway the cartoon characters creeped me out right along with the multiple statue of liberties! Great post!

  36. My best friend works in the NY Times building and I know she feels the same way! I passed this along to her so she too can share in your absolute misery. Great rant! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  37. I think everyone should be more friendly – the world would be a better place…tourist or not. Smile at the world, and the wold smiles at you (or not…unfortunately!). Charlotte

  38. OMG. This is, like, such a cool post. You are so right. It, like, made me LOL.

    There. Is that better? Will you post that one?

    You get to live in the greatest city on the planet. It’s a privilege. People spend their lives wishing they could be in NYC. Through your hard work and good fortune, you get to live here and this is what you churn out? A rant about tourists walking too slow? What an original concept. Never heard that one before.

  39. SO TRUE. I work in Victoria, London, UK, which is the nearest train station to Buckingham Palace, two big parks, an international coach station, and underground station and a main train station.

    It is a swarming, hot, sticky, smelly, cramped, crowded maelstrom of shops, people, buses, taxis, train fumes AND TOURISTS.

    Tourists who literally stop dead in the street when people are TRYING to walk to work. Tourists who have HUGE bags with wheels that run over my feet. Tourists who walk without looking where they’re going. and then get indignant when they crash into you. Tourists who split up their tourist groups and still somehow think that it’s OK to take up the ENTIRE road with their bumbling. Tourists who stop in front of roads, round corners, at the bottom of staircases. Tourists who make me have to step in front of buses and cars JUST TO WALK TO WORK.

    Sometimes I feel stressed not at the prospect of going to work, but at navigating Victoria station. Again. I FEEL YOUR PAIN.

    However, I hate to say it, but I am probably just as bad when I am a tourist. I really hope not, and I try not to be, but it’s probably true…that’s what I keep telling myself anyway when a murderous rage descends 😛

  40. Bet you wish you could make that heart bleed some days. dont think could keep up your job. I would have to keep a lot of my thoughts obscured from the people around me.

  41. I’ve only been able to visit Times Square a handful of times, but this seems pretty accurate.

  42. Awesome. A native New Yorker, I moved away 12 years ago. My fiancé and I just went up to NYC and she wanted to go through Times Square. Shortly after entering, she nearly had a panic attack with all the dodging and weaving we had to do. She asked me why I would ever go there, and I replied I don’t! You hit it on the head. I can take the fast paced action of NYC, but when you enter Times Square life moves in slow motion and it takes forever to get anywhere! Great piece.

  43. (applause) this is exactly how I FEEL! This .. years ago used be a perfect meeting ground for me and my S.O but its just to hectic, bombarding and overwhelming … why are there characters in time square? ugh! it bothers me terribly! get them out!

  44. I live in Chicago, and even though I’m only 14, I completely agree. My sister and I grab coffee and breakfast downtown sometimes and I see all the tourists gathering in front of the Bean and Magnificent Mile. And you can DEFINITELY tell whose a tourist and whose not. I ride the water taxis for transportation and it makes me laugh to see people taking photographs on them. However, in a way, we should not take living in such great cities for granted. I’m sure people in Rome feel the exact same way about Americans who visit there. We just have to be greatful for the beautiful worl we live in!

  45. This is the downside of living in a amazing city.

  46. Every time I walk through Times Square, my soul dies a little.

  47. Though I’ve never been to NY yet, the same happens in London. I can understand your feelings because my soul is literally dying a little when I have to pass Piccadilly Circus. And I’m doing it on a daily routine 🙁

  48. Our office used to be on 38th St. What a mess! Can’t say which is better though, Times Square or the industrial wasteland that is Sunset Park.

  49. I am in agreement with you, as a photographer I really enjoy this place though, but I can understand how it feel like to a regular New Yorker

  50. Lmao. I love this! I’m sorry to laugh at your pain, I too feel exactly the same way as you do. I am born and raised here and since working in the city, my blood pressure has gone through some crazy levels. I’ve worked unfortunately in mostly tourist areas for a lot of different jobs. I’m happy tourist are here but some (not all) of them, are slow walkers and rude. The nerves to blame it on us. I always wish they would make like a sepereate bike lane for them lol. Great post.

  51. Oh how I love a good rant!!!!

  52. This is fantastic; also, that Elmo is going to live in my nightmares.

  53. I’ve lived in Florida my whole life, I feel your pain. When I visit New York, I wear a fanny pack and get in the way for payback.

  54. I have always thought Times Square seemed like such a “magical place” to visit. However, this post has been a reality check for me 🙂 . Sometimes when we think of touring areas, some of us imagine that we are there with a camera and have the whole place to ourselves-this is simply not true. GOOD POST.

  55. 42nd street is my absolute worst nightmare! When I worked in the city I did everything I possibly could to avoid it completely. There is definitely a special method of walking in New York that tourists should receive a pamphlet on. Maybe that would make things a lot easier?

  56. i used to live and work in niagara falls ontario. i went through much the same hell trying to just live my life around the madness.

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