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6 Characters You'll Meet in New York City

New York City Student Work
by Isabelle Martin Sep 24, 2014
1. The long-suffering bartender

He works at Rathbones on 89th and 2nd, or Rathboner, as you and your friends like to call it. It’s a roach-infested, beer-varnished cave with drinks served in plastic cups and Christmas lights twinkling in July. The smell of stale lager is forever wafting down the sidewalk like a personal olfactory lighthouse. But what it lacks in charm, it makes up in being extremely close to your apartment.

The long-suffering bartender always greets you with, “Jesus Christ, what are you doing here again?” It makes you feel right at home in the neighborhood. When you and your friend flail alone like two sweaty chickens on an empty dance floor at 9pm on a Tuesday night, when you’re loudly and unapologetically rejected by dudes with no sense of humor, and when you obliviously wander around the bar for a half hour with toilet paper stuck to your shoe, he’s there to cringe and bear witness to the horror. Even though you’re sure he’d vehemently deny all association with you, as far as you’re concerned, he’s your friend.

2. The potentially insane Craigslist roommate

With her cute sundress and tiny Chihuahua nestled inside a Gucci shoulder bag, the potentially insane Craigslist roommate seems like the coolest person ever when you first meet. She promises to take you to a speakeasy after you move in and casually mentions her plans to move to Milan for fashion school next year. Basically, she seems like a sign from the gods that your decision to move to NYC was correct and that your time to shine is NOW. Unfortunately, like many New Yorkers, she’s also deeply insane. And not in a fun way. Hope your bedroom door has a lock!

Take advantage of the month-long honeymoon period before she starts manically painting all of the walls canary yellow, stealing your food, and threatening to throw your cat out the window. You can bond over your six-floor walkup exercise routine and share romantic boxes of wine together while gazing at the sweeping vista of brick outside the single tiny window next to your kitchen sink. The final straw will be when her cute little dog decides to pee all over your bed, but, hey, it was nice while it lasted.

3. The broke bargoer

You’ll immediately notice her when she orders a ginger ale at the bar. She’ll wink slyly at you as she holds her glass under the counter and fumbles around in her coat pocket with her free hand. She’ll fish out a dented flask, deftly open it with one hand, and pour a generous amount of whiskey on top of the ginger ale. If you’re lucky, maybe she’ll make you a cocktail of your own.

4. The anti-office worker

She knows she’s in NYC to live the dream, not to slave away at some boring nine-to-five job while the city goes on without her like she doesn’t even exist. She wears thick-rimmed black glasses and has been known to bust out a briar wood pipe at parties (she calls them ‘salons’). Every day, she spends a two-hour lunch break at her table at Grounded in the West Village, slamming back soy lattes while she writes the next great American novel/genre-defying screenplay/edgy Facebook post and Googles tattoo options.

5. The subway busker

He looks like another unassuming teenager riding the 4/5 Express at rush hour, crushed in next to the crumpled, tired suits. He sits hunched over in the corner, skinny frame jutting out underneath a tank top and baggy track pants pooling over bright red Nikes. Once the train starts moving, though, a big smile spreads across his face as he clears a little room in the middle of the car. “Showtime, folks, showtime!” he’ll yell, leaping up onto the subway pole and gracefully walking on air back down. It’s like a mini Cirque du Soleil performance during your evening commute.

6. The soul-searching banker

He lives in a swanky midtown apartment and refuses to go above 86th street for any reason. Every day, he spends 12 hours making money off other people’s money. He exaggerates how hard he works, so it’s tough to be sure. Every night, he’s out on the town with the same coworkers he just spent all day with, blowing money on bottle service at Pink Elephant, judging the well-dressed women around him like they’re food on a plate, and cackling in a low-lit VIP booth about how he’s such a jerk and totally soulless but also living the dream by being disgustingly and undeservedly rich.

In the rare moments when he’s alone, he realizes he is actually kind of a jerk and that his life is pretty empty. Eventually, he’ll seek out a regular-Joe classist version of the manic pixie dream girl to help him rediscover meaning in his life. This guy will teach him about trying unpronounceable food in Chinatown, dating women who aren’t death-defyingly thin, and venturing into the wild world of Upper West Side dive bars.

Eventually, the conflicted banker will cave under the combined pressure from his parents and friends and recommit to the banking world, maybe switching his focus to companies that make wind turbines or $300 organic hemp purses. The next time he’s roping in an aspiring model at an upscale bar, he can impress her with tales of the time he and his “alternative” friend braved the war zone of East Harlem to check out this underground art commune called Paint Nite on a Groupon.

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