NEW YORK, NEW YORK — A Brooklyn man became the first in the long history of the city to realize how much room his body takes up in space. His awakening occurred after he blocked a particularly angry woman on the subway stairs, preventing her from catching the G train.
“I was just minding my own business, walking slowly down the middle of the staircase, then suddenly she was behind me screaming, ‘Get the fuck out of my way, asshole! You’re blocking the whole staircase!’ I turned around and didn’t see anyone, then looked down and saw this tiny little person push past me. That was the first time I realized huh, maybe my body is…kind of big?”
Says one witness, “Yeah, his body is kind of big. Not like, abnormally big. Honestly, he looked to be in good shape but yeah, he like, takes up a bunch of space for sure. Which…I guess I do too? Huh, I’ve never really thought about that.”
Though the woman couldn’t be reached for comment, many echo her frustration. “It’s crazy — you see these gigantic men blocking everyone’s way on the subway, and it seems like they have no concept of how much space their bodies take up. They walk down the middle of the sidewalk, right in everyone else’s way. It’s like how do you not know to stay to the side of the fucking sidewalk? It’s really not that hard to figure out, but nobody in this goddamn city thinks about anybody but themselves.”
We spoke to a psychologist about this phenomenon, which she calls “Little Dog Syndrome.” “It’s like when you see a tiny Yorkie bark its little head off at a big dog. In that moment, the Yorkie has no idea it’s smaller than the big dog. It’s the same but in reverse with men and, less frequently, women in New York City. They think they take up about as much space as a Yorkie, so it doesn’t occur to them that they stay to the side and they end up getting in everyone else’s way. It’s an interesting psychological phenomenon, one which I’ve studied in depth, and to be perfectly honest I’m fucking sick of it.”
When asked about “Little Dog Syndrome,” the man laughed. “I love little dogs.” When asked about it again, he said, “I guess it’s like how, if I see a woman wearing a backpack on the subway, I get pissed. Even if she’s a small person and it’s a tiny backpack, I think about how rude it is that she’s taking up extra space. But I guess, if I really think about it, I’m taking up way more space every day than she is the one day she decides to wear a backpack. Whoa, that’s so trippy.”
“Oh, every time I wear a backpack, huge men glare at me,” says one super thin woman. “And I feel so guilty. Because, like, I’m taking up so much extra space! I’ll squeeze myself into the corner, out of everyone’s way. Meanwhile, the man glaring at me will hug a subway pole or block the entire doorway when people are trying to get off at Lorimer. It’s like — doesn’t he have any concept of how much space his body takes up?”
According to the psychologist, he doesn’t. “They have no idea. No fucking idea. No concept whatsoever of how much space their bodies occupy. As a psychologist, I find it fascinating. As a citizen of New York, I find it really fucking infuriating.”
When asked if he’s going to adjust his behavior now that he’s aware he takes up a fuckton of space, the man said, “Huh, I hadn’t thought about that. I guess, if my body’s so big that it takes up half the sidewalk, maybe I should try walking on the lefthand side. Or I guess, instead of standing in the doorway of the train, I should sit down so I can really spread out.”
“These assholes better watch out,” said one woman. “I swear, if one more dude — or some oblivious ass couple — prevents me from catching the G train, they’re going straight onto the tracks.”
Added her friend, “Let’s see how fast they get out of the way when a rat’s coming through.” The women laughed, their white teeth glinting in the dull subway light.