For those of us not personally helicoptered to high-powered financial harvesting firms, the daily routine of subway commuting is an essential part of New York City life. And in those hours we spend in transit, there’s definitely a cast of regulars we’ve all become accustomed to seeing. Though the actors themselves may change, these are the subway roles we all know (and sometimes play ourselves).
The Euro Tourist Family
They’re on week seven of their eight-month vacation, speak better English than most of your coworkers, and they’re just so blonde, how is it possible!!
You’ve seen (and nearly been kicked in the face by) these guys so often you’ve started to think on the more esoteric parts of their performance. Like: does every, uh, troupe (?) get their scratchy-ass POS boomboxes from the same time machine that can only travel to a 1985 Crazy Eddie electronics store? And are their break loops recorded by DJ Hand Amputee?
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You keep your headphones on but surreptitiously mute your tunes to catch every fifth word of this couple's juicy commute fracas.
The American Tourist Family
There’s no law against five relatives simultaneously wearing cargo shorts in November, but there should be.
The Guy Who Brings His Bicycle on the Train
Thanks for bringing your commuting vehicle on another commuter vehicle, real meta. Also, real asshole.
Your Coworker Who You Really Don’t Want to Talk To
The second she locks eyes with yours you know that peaceful time to yourself is over. Now you're going to have to engage in awkward conversation with someone you already engage in awkward conversation with enough. This is one of those rare occasions when you actually pray for a freak train derailment.
The Guy Who Pops His Head in the Closing Doors and Screams, “DOES THIS GO TO FORT HAMILTON PARKWAY?!”
And then he gets mad when nobody answers! Like, he’s cranky... nobody wants to do the job of a subway map for him.
The Guy Audibly Sighing and Muttering During a Train Delay
“Ugh why doesn’t this guy just chill. Be the change you want to see in the world, bro,” you think to yourself, forgetting that this will literally be you in two days when you’re really late for something.
And you will spend at least 10 minutes trying to use context clues and photographs to translate it.
The Guy Playing Music Out of an iPhone
Thirty-two bars of straight fire always sound hardest when sung along to and played at the maximum garbled volume only a second-generation broken iPhone can produce. Thanks, friend, for treating the whole car to your personal karaoke session.
The Guy Playing a Phone Game That Just Looks Horrible
“You’re just sliding like... numbers into each or something, WTF is that I don’t get it. Oh look I downloaded it and I play it now and this is amazing and I missed my stop.”
The Friends Splitting a Pair of Earbuds
You think it’s sweet until your remember the biological horror that was on your earbuds the last time you took them out.
An Entire Class Trip
Nothing like trying to pass by 30+ tiny sociopaths that several frazzled adults are trying -- and failing -- to wrangle.
That Dude Eating an Entire Chinese Takeout Meal
Or a falafel or chicken & rice or something else just totally inappropriate for the D train. G train? Maybe. Those people are barbarians.
Some Guy or Gal in Scrubs
Ugh, we get you’re a doctor or a serial killer or whatever, just put some real pants on.
Someone Lugging Trader Joe's Groceries
This is actually a qualifying event for the bougie olympics.
Someone You’ve Seen Dozens of Times and Have Never/Will Never Talk To
The Guy Giving Away Sandwiches for the Homeless
Nobody has ever seen anyone actually take a sandwich from one of these seemingly well-meaning people.
Uh... there’s only one line at this stop, and he’s just sitting on the benches and not getting on... Am I seeing something!? Do I need to say something!?
The Mariachi Dudes
If there’s anything we all love at 8am it’s a spontaneous “Cielito Lindo” performance.
Maybe Someone Sort of Famous?
Is she the girl who wrote that book? Or the actress? Oh yeah, she’s in all the things. Like that show with the other girl? You know.
The Kid Selling Candy
People actually get mad and are like, “YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE A BASKETBALL TEAM, YOU LIAR” as if what your money is going to profoundly changes the taste and texture of slightly warm Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
The Guy Who Picks up His Phone When It Somehow Rings in a Tunnel
“Hello!? I’m on a train! Hello!? Hello!?”
A Suspiciously Good Busker
Is this like a Banksy situation where he just started selling his art on the street for like $10 and if you’d bought it all you’d be a millionaire now? Or is this banjo player just the sickest banjoer ever?
Barbershop Quartet Singers
It’s really hard to be mad at “This Little Light of Mine,” even at 8am.
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Jesse Brukman was born in Beth Israel hospital sometime in the 1980s and continues to live here now. You can angrily disagree with him via Twitter.