A different aroma for every block. The anxiety inducing soundtrack. The constant fight for your attention. New York City can be an overwhelming landscape for those visiting for the first time. Even for those who have lived here for years. The following are some mental "hacks" I've complied to help you sanely navigate the concrete jungle.
Sidestepping A Looney
*Note: Feel free to replace "looney" with "drunk" or just plain ole "creeper"
So let's say it's 3am (or hell, 3pm for that matter) and a crazy man approaches you and mumbles something about Jesus. His breath smells like the inside of a White Castle bathroom and his right eye is twitching frantically. You don't need to be a mind reader to know that you should probably get out of his vicinity pronto. I highly recommend you fighting crazy with crazy in this scenario. As soon as you think he might engage with you in some way just turn to him and say "I do wash my hands at night." Or whatever offbeat phrase you can blurt out. This is called a pattern interrupt and will most likely send a thoroughly confusing message which will stop him right in his tracks. Giving you enough time to briskly walk away or get off the subway.
Escaping the Clipboard People
They're everywhere. They spot you from literally a mile away. They're damn good at guilting you in to talking. How do you break their 100 yard stare? Easy. Just wave as if you see one of your best friends standing just ten feet behind them. Simple as that. Look past them, maybe say excuse me, and go meet your imaginary friend. Guarantee they won't interrupt such a delightful reunion. Of course you can take out your phone and pretend you just got a call - but they get that at least 300 times a day. They'll see right through your weak defense mechanism. So don't be a jerk. Remember these people are working for a cause they believe in - or at the very least a paycheck. At the very least just say this, "I actually chatted with one of your colleagues down the block - good luck today!" They'll most likely thank you while simultaneous inform them of their colleague down the block.
Forgetting Someone's Name
Living in NYC you're bound to run into someone you should know by name but still don't. There are a lot of people here! Anyway, let's say you're with some friends at a bar and you see a long lost acquaintance but have completely forgotten their name. All your memory tricks have failed you. You become completely disconnected from the conversation because you're busy trying to figure out their name. Here's what you do: stop trying to remember their name. Believe it or not other humans are great at picking up non-verbal cues. Including panic. Instead quickly introduce them to a friend your with. "Oh hey, I want you to meet my friend Matt" you say. Matt will then exchange handshakes and names with your forgotten friend. Problem solved. You can even arrange with your close friends beforehand to always ask for the person's name that you're introducing them to (if you know you're going to a party where you might've forgotten some of the names of the guests). You might also want to add another sly nuance by saying their name slightly after (but seemingly at the same time) as they do - to give the illusion of you always knowing their name despite just calling them "pal" or "stranger".