Times Square Tourists Tangle With Ninja Commuter

By Anthony Buccino

At corners, tourists upset pedestrian traffic flow when they stop at a light, refusing to cross the street simply because the walk/don't walk light says don't walk.

NYC Tourists Chill on Broadway - photo Anthony BuccinoThe tourists in Times Square float in schools like lost guppies released into a new zillion-gallon aquarium.

For no apparent reason, and with no warning, they stop completely dead in their tracks in the middle of the block, turn and point their digital camera at a skyscraper. 

It's the city's own fault, it's not Walt Disney World with little signs that suggest, "This is a good place to take a picture," Kodak used to put up those signs back in the day when they sold film for those cameras. I don't know about that anymore.

But I ramble, much as the tourists floating the sidewalks and closed streets of Times Square in New York.

As you pass them, another pod of meandering whales sways left and right, causing you to swerve through elbows, big brown shopping bags and pointing arms as if you are the ninja commuter tuning up for the next Kung Fu film to be shot in Midtown.

Naked Cowboy Welcomes Blonde Tourise - Anthony Buccino photo

At corners, tourists upset pedestrian traffic flow when they stop at a light, refusing to cross the street simply because the walk/don't walk light says don't walk.

Ninja commuters check for turning vehicles, in every direction, then leave bewildered tourists at the curb counting the yellow cabs that cross their path in one minute. 

In the rain, tourist present the visionary hazard of varied level of umbrella tines, while the few tourists wearing their brand new bus-tour logo-ed ponchos still clench umbrellas, just in case. 

You will see lightning and thunder over the big city, and there, in Times Square will be defiant tourists with their cameras pointed at the tall buildings and bright billboard lights.

For what they pay to visit this incredible city, who can blame them for not wanting to waste any time at all at the mere wind and water of a tropical storm. In New York, the hotels are not likely to fall into the sea regardless of how strong the winds are.

Ninja commuters know it's best to keep your umbrella right before your eyes so the handle deflects most attempts at a sharp poke in the eye. 

Meanwhile, the vendors see the tourists approaching, following the next bright shiny thing, and know they'll pay three bucks for the same hot dog a commuter will get for a buck and a half or two bucks. The same goes for soda pop and other drinks at stands that have no posted prices. 

Times Square tourist greets NYPD mount Anthony Buccino photo

Seasoned ninja commuters know the secrets of the underground that will get you from Rockefeller Center to Central Park, at your own leisurely walking pace, without crossing a single street. We call that the secret of the city in winter. 

NOTE: In June 2009, Buccino and several hundred colleagues were transferred from Jersey City to new offices in Midtown Manhattan. Nearly all of his colleagues kept their jobs.

First published on NJ.Com August 11, 2009. Adapted from Travels With Tonoose.

Archive photos by Anthony Buccino.

Read: Travels With Tonoose

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