Living in NYC can feel like a crazy, funny and sometimes disturbing reality show, with you the unwitting cast member (and without the bottomless free booze you usually see on those things). The characters we meet in this city — in our own building even — are typically stranger than any fictional depictions could ever be. And the more you move, the more you realize it's the same story all over New York. Having moved six times in my 15 years in the city, this reality show seems to be in repeats. Who are the people in your neighborhood? Behold:
1. The Stooper: The man or woman who sits on a stoop all day, every day, and you steel yourself for the interminable, idle chatter or, worse, the lechery. The stooper, could be a nearby super, or just someone who has lots of time on his or her hands to watch the world (and you) go by, chronicling your comings and goings and offering unasked-for commentary. The Stooper is typically the one you avoid by walking the long way to your apartment.
2. The Petophile: There’s one on every block—the dweller who has myriad pets, or just one or two that he or she is always talking about — who's always fostering or rescuing animals. In their more sinister iteration, the Petophile can be found hoarding them or feeding pigeons that bring bird droppings to your window sill and stairs daily, creating a health hazard. Extra points if they live in your building adjacent to you and have noisy (and possibly smelly) pets.
3. The Hoarder: Everyone has one in their sphere. And a hoarder can amass all sorts of things, including, as aforementioned, animals. When apartment hunting in Hell’s Kitchen, I came upon a first-floor resident who could not close his unit’s front door because of his “collections,” so he sat all day in the vestibule like a wayward doorman.
4. The Loud Talker: In every building I’ve ever lived in there was always one neighbor (or an apartment full of them) that didn’t know how to use their indoor voices. Whether speaking to each other or alone on the phone, I could hear each and every conversation to the point where I knew more about their lives than my best friend's. People in rural areas may complain about waking to a rooster’s call, but many of us in the city wake to the couple below us screaming at each other.
5. The Creeper: There’s always that one neighbor who either spies on you through your windows, hits on you every time you walk into your lobby or is also the Stooper. Avoid them at all cost, especially if they are also The Groper.
6. The Groper: Credit Seinfeld for making famous the concept of the building kisser—a neighbor who greets each building co-habitant with a kiss and who incites others to do so. The Groper is a cousin of The Kisser—they touch you on the shoulder or back when you just don't want them to, and especially on days when all you want to do is get to your apartment fast.
7. The Nutter: Enough said.
8. The Busybody: This is the neighbor who is always gossiping about others in the area, acts as a sort of hall monitor tattling to management about neighbors’ perceived indiscretions or overtly looks through others’ mail or laundry. The Busybody is known for unwanted pop-ins. Not to be confused with The Activist.
9. The Activist: Landlord skimping on heat? Doorman strike afoot? This is the person — every building's got one — who rallies people and gets things done on behalf of the building. He or she may seem like a squeaky wheel, but in times of trouble they can be invaluable.
10. The Druggie—For some, everyday is 4/20. Not a building in NYC forgoes having that one apartment that smells of weed wafting out from under its door. An even worse version of The Druggie is The Dealer (no explanation necessary).
11. The Perma-Pregnant Woman: How do they have time, you wonder? This is the woman who seems to have a protruding belly every month of the year. Of course, in New York, one question comes to mind: How many bedrooms must she have?
12. The Downstairs Loiterer: In every doorman building in NYC, there is a person who sits downstairs and talks to the doorman. A lot. Sometimes the doormen seem to like it, sometimes they just seem trapped. A close relation of The Stooper.
13. The Blogger: There is always someone chronicling the happenings in one’s area on the Internet. Like me, so beware: You could end up being in pieces like this.