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I Spent 14.5 Hours In Times Square Because I'm A Fucking Idiot

Everyone told me not to do it... I didn't listen.

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Jon Premosch / Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

Hello there! My name is Matt, and like most people who live or work in New York City, I hate Times Square. However, I'm constantly baffled/intrigued by the hordes of tourists who flock to the well-lit hell, so I came up with an idea... And just to warn you, most of my ideas are bad.

@mjkiebus

Nearly 60 million people are projected to visit Times Square in 2016 — 13 blocks of billboards, generic Irish bars, chain restaurants, and stores you can find in any mall — which makes it one of the most-trafficked tourist attractions in the world.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

Seriously, people come from ALL OVER THE PLANET to see Times Square, while New Yorkers avoid it like the plague. Every time I'm forced to make my way through the endless mass of fanny pack–strapped tourists toting selfie sticks, street performers doing backflips, and people dressed in grimy Sesame Street costumes, I want to bathe in Purell.

But tourists don't seem to feel the same way — they flock there like flies to a streetlight. Tourists LOVE Times Square, and seem to love it more and more every year. I understand the appeal of seeing a Broadway play, but eating dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and paying for a picture with the Naked Cowboy makes my brain explode.

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I woke up late and sweaty, stared at the ceiling, did laundry, watched Netflix, didn't fold said laundry, and then took the wrong subway to Rockefeller Center instead of Times Square. My brain was trying to abort, and I had the anxiety of someone who knew they were making a mistake, but drove past the last U-turn miles ago.

My original idea was to spend 24 hours in Times Square, but BuzzFeed and my girlfriend shot down that idea because of safety and mental health concerns. So I told everyone I was spending eight to ten hours in this hell — but I lied. I planned on staying there as long as my eyes stayed open and my legs could prop me up.

Like I said — I specialize in bad ideas.

As soon as I got to Times Square I purchased the cheapest and most obnoxious "I <3 New York" shirt I could find — bright pink with the ironed-on letters already wilting away.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

After trying to sneakily take pictures of the Naked Cowboy and those people on stilts dressed like the Statue of Liberty, I sat on the stairs and contemplated what I'm doing with my life.

You need to pay the &quot;performers&quot; for pictures.
Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

You need to pay the "performers" for pictures.

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I walked over to the Richard Rodgers Theater to catch the crowds flocking to see the Hamilton matinee...

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

And almost got sucked in by the Church of Scientology across the street.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed
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It was approaching lunchtime, and I'll admit it wasn't easy to choose between Applebee's, TGI Friday's, Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesday, Hard Rock Café, Chevy's, Dave & Buster's, or Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., but Red Lobster was calling my name.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

So I ordered the Ultimate Feast, which includes garlic shrimp, breaded shrimp, a lobster tail, crab legs, and broccoli, to keep you honest. I proceeded to spend THREE HOURS in Red Lobster.

Yeah, three fucking hours. I asked the bartender to put on the Mets game, and I juiced up my cell phone while I crushed my feast. I wanted to soak in the atmosphere, which was interesting, to say the least. The crowd was a mix of solo business lunches, informal meetings, friends catching up, tourists, a few regulars, and a group of four who were allergic to shellfish. As I eavesdropped on my neighbors talking about their sex addiction, polygamy, love, and failed marriages, I almost forgot I was in Times Square. The Red Lobster had a casino effect — where I had no idea what time of day it was and I didn&#x27;t really care.
Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

Yeah, three fucking hours. I asked the bartender to put on the Mets game, and I juiced up my cell phone while I crushed my feast. I wanted to soak in the atmosphere, which was interesting, to say the least.

The crowd was a mix of solo business lunches, informal meetings, friends catching up, tourists, a few regulars, and a group of four who were allergic to shellfish.

As I eavesdropped on my neighbors talking about their sex addiction, polygamy, love, and failed marriages, I almost forgot I was in Times Square. The Red Lobster had a casino effect — where I had no idea what time of day it was and I didn't really care.

I even asked my bartender to take my picture. Look how happy I am!

Air-conditioning. Beer. Seafood. I&#x27;m a happy man.
Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

Air-conditioning. Beer. Seafood. I'm a happy man.

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It wasn't really in my budget to see a Broadway show, so I decided to stroll down 42nd Street and hit the next best thing: that place with the creepy wax figures of celebrities, Madame Tussauds!

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

I found myself apologizing for bumping into wax figures of celebrities who look like they died, were embalmed, and propped up for our viewing pleasure.

Now, the figures are impressively lifelike, the employees were enthusiastic and kind — but I just want to make it incredibly clear that this place creeped me the fuck out. Kids are hopped up on too much sugar. There are zero windows. People make wax molds of their hands as souvenirs. I felt incredibly strange taking all of these selfies.
Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

Now, the figures are impressively lifelike, the employees were enthusiastic and kind — but I just want to make it incredibly clear that this place creeped me the fuck out. Kids are hopped up on too much sugar. There are zero windows. People make wax molds of their hands as souvenirs. I felt incredibly strange taking all of these selfies.

But if there was one thing worth the price of admission, it's this gem near the exit.

@mjkiebus
JavenLin / Thinkstock / Getty
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By the time I got back out into the not-so-fresh air, the after-work crowd had mixed with tourists to make sidewalks nearly impassable.

Before walking 5 feet, I was told to repent my sins to Jesus and was handed a flyer to Cheetahs strip club.
Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

Before walking 5 feet, I was told to repent my sins to Jesus and was handed a flyer to Cheetahs strip club.

If there is one haven in Times Square, it just might be Strand's pop-up stand. They're doing the Lord's work by providing a tiny respite from this hell.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed
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After eight hours I was starting to feel the fatigue, boredom, and frustration really kick in — but I knew I needed to power through.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed
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As I sat and watched five Elmos and the world's creepiest version of Heath Ledger's Joker from The Dark Knight, I seriously contemplated going home early.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

AND THEN I FOUND OUT I COULD GET MY FACE ON A BILLBOARD FOR FREE!

Apparently multiple businesses (T-Mobile and American Eagle) offer the ability to put your face on one of Times Square&#x27;s iconic billboards. And I gotta admit: This was legitimately awesome. I didn&#x27;t know what to do with my hands — or my face for that matter — but it genuinely made me laugh when my picture popped up.
Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

Apparently multiple businesses (T-Mobile and American Eagle) offer the ability to put your face on one of Times Square's iconic billboards. And I gotta admit: This was legitimately awesome. I didn't know what to do with my hands — or my face for that matter — but it genuinely made me laugh when my picture popped up.

JavenLin / Thinkstock / Getty

After the sun set, I knew there was more to explore and more misery to endure...so I entered the land of endless and pointless souvenirs.

Keychains, T-shirts, coffee mugs, license plates, underwear, jackets, shoes, posters, garbage bins, luggage, mirrors, jerseys, hats — it was endless.
@mjkiebus

Keychains, T-shirts, coffee mugs, license plates, underwear, jackets, shoes, posters, garbage bins, luggage, mirrors, jerseys, hats — it was endless.

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When I escaped souvenir hell, the first thing I saw was a horse standing in its own shit, which was exactly how I felt at that moment.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed
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Around 9 p.m. I knew it was time for my second chain-restaurant meal of the day, and after momentarily considering doubling down on seafood and going to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., I stumbled on Buffalo Wild Wings and I'm happy I did.

Not only did they have an outlet conveniently located at the bar, but it&#x27;s ALL-NIGHT HAPPY HOUR on Wednesdays! Coors Light was only $3 a glass. It was a minor miracle. I watched the Mets lose for the second time that day as the replay was on one of the trillion-inch flat-screen TVs. Chain restaurants for life!
Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

Not only did they have an outlet conveniently located at the bar, but it's ALL-NIGHT HAPPY HOUR on Wednesdays! Coors Light was only $3 a glass. It was a minor miracle. I watched the Mets lose for the second time that day as the replay was on one of the trillion-inch flat-screen TVs. Chain restaurants for life!

But Times Square wouldn't let me enjoy this moment of happiness, as I was reminded that I'm getting old and death is near.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed
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By 11 p.m., Times Square was about twice as crowded as it was 12 hours earlier. The stairs were almost too crowded to comfortably relax and digest my wings, so I started walking in circles around the hellscape.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

This day had revolved around where I could charge my phone and where I was going to pee next.

I initially went to Señor Frog&#x27;s to grab a beer and soak in the party atmosphere, but after I got past its Fort Knox-level front door security and made my way downstairs, I found myself in a dark, cavernous room blaring Eminem&#x27;s &quot;I&#x27;m the Real Slim Shady&quot; with — at the most — 15 other people. I immediately used the bathroom and left.
Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

I initially went to Señor Frog's to grab a beer and soak in the party atmosphere, but after I got past its Fort Knox-level front door security and made my way downstairs, I found myself in a dark, cavernous room blaring Eminem's "I'm the Real Slim Shady" with — at the most — 15 other people. I immediately used the bathroom and left.

JavenLin / Thinkstock / Getty
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At this point I only wanted to make it past midnight. I just needed ways to kill time.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

And I took another obnoxious time-lapse video in the middle of a crosswalk.

Instagram: @mjkiebus
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I felt like this puddle. This puddle was me.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed
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I walked into a generic Irish pub and tried not to throw up as the drunk and horny middle-aged couple next to me downed Irish car bombs.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

By 1 a.m., the stairs — my stairs — were closed, but people were still milling about. My girlfriend had been telling me to come home for hours, and my stubbornness was wearing down.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed
JavenLin / Thinkstock / Getty

Times Square sucked out my soul and most of my happiness.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed

I never came to understand why tourists flock to it. I probably never will.

Matthew Kiebus / BuzzFeed