Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Anonymous User Submission- The Shuffle Step!

If you're an American citizen, whether 1/8 of a fanny pack-laden group of Midwestern tourists or a native New Yorker, you have most likely been to Times Square at some point during your life. While interning in New York city this summer, I have had the extreme pleasure of walking 20 or so blocks from Penn Station to my office every day, accumulating sweat and dodging oblivious tourists every step of the way. 

Needless to say, Times Square is the perfect place to experience the following infamously, tortuously awkward encounter with a stranger: heading toward one another, you walk one way and he/she walks in the same direction. You engage in an awkward square-dance ritual for five brutal seconds before moving on, the experience becoming just a passing memory of painful awkward interaction. 

My latest one, however, was so excruciating that I remember it with acute detail to this day. It took place during the heat wave that hit New York around June 23rd. I was walking to my office at West 50th and 6th, which I am forced to access by weaving through the Times Square masses (which unvaryingly arrive every morning at 7am sharp). It all happened very fast....

Corner of 45th and 7th. While crossing the street, I glance down at my iPod to change the song. Song selected: Lupe Fiasco's 'Kick Push' (FYI: a great soundtrack for walking). I glance back up to see a middle-aged, approximately 6'1" Asian man trudging toward me, sweating profusely. My eyes widen, as do his. He looks down, begins to walk left. I, of course, also walk left. I look up, give a tight, awkward smile, and lunge to the right. Without hesitation, he does the same. We are now inches apart. His sweaty breath is hot on my forehead. We lock eyes again; his are wide with sheer dread. The pedestrian traffic sign morphs into an orange hand. He begins to raise his right arm (in retrospect, I have no idea why he does this--perhaps in an attempt to rail me to the ground to avoid further awkardness). I quickly duck beneath it and sprint to the opposite sidewalk, not looking back. 

I smooth my shirt over and resume walking to work. My forehead is slick with sweat and my heart is still thumping from the atrocity that has just transpired. I endure a brief panic attack and wonder if I will ever recover, dreading the 6 or so hours I will have to think about this scenario while performing my mindless intern tasks at work. As I've lived to tell this sad tale, it is redundant to say I survived--but it wasn't easy.