Texting on the Subway Image courtesy of iStock
By James L. Knobloch

We’ve all met “that guy” — on the sidewalk, in the subway, or in a bodega — at one point or another. You know, that person so blissfully unaware (or completely unconcerned) with their surroundings that they’ve become a hazard to themselves and everyone around them. Full disclosure: Girls can definitely be “that guy,” too.

To (shamefully) quote Taylor Swift, “Welcome to New York.”

In a city bursting at the seams with tourists, foreigners, distracted millennials, and people in a hurry for no discernable reason, getting from Point A to Point B without wanting to kick someone in the shins is, in a word, challenging.

As a self-professed people watcher (read: creeper), here are some of my favorite “that guys,” as observed in their native, common sense-free environment. And by all means, please feel free to read this list in your best Planet Earth David Attenborough voice-over.


1. That “If I Get On The Train First I’ll Get There Faster” Guy

Habitat: Any Subway Station

Can Be Sighted: Trying to shove his or her way onto the train before everyone has exited.

Much like taking the last sip of a drink without getting a face full of ice cubes, or retrieving the last few Pringles from the can with the time-honored “index and middle finger pincer maneuver,” thousands of people entering and exiting the subway trains makes for a precarious, delicate dance. This nonsensical creature is often confused with its cousin, the That “Not Moving Away From the Train Door, Even Though People Are Clearly Having Trouble Getting Around Me” Guy. 

2. That “Hey, The Middle of This Crowded Sidewalk Looks Like a Great Place to Come to a Sudden and Complete Stop Without Warning” Guy

Habitat: Times Square

Can Be Sighted: Directly and unavoidably in front of you, possibly making duck lips.

Maybe they just realized they left their oven on, or it just occurred to them that they forgot to set the DVR for tonight’s Biggest Loser. Perhaps the lighting was just too perfect to pass on an immediate selfie. Theories still abound as to the exact cause of the infamous “Middle Sidewalk Stopper,” but it’s rumored to be common among those you frequently “Keep Up” with the Kardashians. 

3. That “I Don’t Know What I Want, Even Though I’ve Been Waiting In Line For 15 Minutes With Nothing To Look At Besides the Enormous Menu Board” Guy

Habitat: Bodega, Starbucks, Movie Theater Concession Line

Can Be Sighted: Holding up a long queue of irate customers

No amount of throat clearing, foot tapping, or side eyeing can dissuade this determined “That Guy” from asking the barista what a Frappuccino tastes like, or the worker behind the counter which sandwich they’d recommend. Will also say “yes” when asked if they’d like to learn more about the AMC Stubs reward program and will try to pay with a personal check. 

4. That “Upstreaming” Guy

Habitat: Manhattan

Can Be Sighted: In the cab you were trying to hail

This pest is most frequently encountered in rainy conditions, when you’re running late, or while you’re carrying several heavy, cumbersome items. A citywide epidemic, if encountered, an “Upstreamer” should be fumigated and exterminated with extreme prejudice – a swift kick to the ass should do the trick. 

5. That “Nowhere To Be Anytime Soon” Guy

Habitat: Congested Areas, Confined Spaces

Can Be Sighted: Between you and wherever you’re trying to get to quickly

Whether late for a board meeting or going to buy a pack of gum, New Yorkers move with haste and purpose…except for the dreaded “Nowhere To Be” Guy. These docile grazers can often be found traveling in packs, moseying aimlessly while linked arm in arm. This grouping is known as a “clusterf*ck.”


Keep your head on a swivel, and please, don’t be “that guy.”

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