10 People Who Make Life Hard For No Reason

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
On most days of my life, I’m a people person — outgoing, friendly, and willing to talk to almost anyone. But then there are the days when my social existence goes full-blown Mercury retrograde, and I become a magnet for insufferable people who test my very faith in humanity. We’ve all been there: You’re at a party having the time of your life when suddenly you find yourself trapped in a conversation with a mansplaining tech bro, a Trump supporter who won't stop talking about building that Mexico wall, or, worst of all, someone who hates Beyoncé. In moments like these, I find myself wishing I had never left my house, where there are unfinished books and jars of crunchy peanut butter.

Meditating for too long on the unsavory specimens of the human race can be a fruitless exercise in misanthropy. In most cases it is best to take the high road, and excuse yourself from the conversation when someone offers to show you pictorial evidence of her career as a Meghan Trainor impersonator. And yet, taking the high road can be an exhausting journey; sometimes we need to vent about all those people who drive us crazy. This is why I’ve come up with a list of the 10 people who make you never, ever want to leave the house. To quote Steel Magnolias: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.”
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Person You Dated Briefly Who Goes To The Same Coffee Shop As You

It was the perfect meet-cute: A sexy nerd with a job in public radio (swoon) asked me out at our shared coffee shop. AMAZING, right? Wrong. The only thing more awkward than our dinner conversation was the failed blow job afterward. I think we both silently agreed that it would be best never to see each other again, but then we realized: THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE. After all, we share a coffee shop — and I would be DAMNED if I had to give up my precious Stumptown for Starbucks all because of a crappy BJ. He proved similarly obstinate, and for months we engaged in a chilly coffee-shop turf war: side-eyes over raw sugar, standoffs over the final drops of almond milk, and the like. I began to alter my morning-commute time in an attempt to avoid run-ins. He eventually left the neighborhood (thank god) — otherwise I would’ve been forced to move to a nunnery in the Swiss Alps.

Never date someone you meet in your daily coffee shop. It may seem like the perfect rom-com setup, but there’s a horrific twist. After your one date turns into a one-night stand, you’ll have to make a crucial decision: face the ensuing awkward encounters, or pick a new coffee shop. If you’re like me, you’d rather fall into a sewer than give up your coffee shop. And yet, that unfortunate fate seems preferable to dealing with the aftermath of a terrible hookup.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Smug Restaurant Hostess

I recently found myself in Downtown Los Angeles without a dinner reservation. I normally never leave home without one, but I was not in charge of the plans on this particular evening. The organizer for the night wanted to just “play the evening by ear,” and “relax.” There is nothing relaxing about not having a reservation on a Friday night. Lo and behold, we were turned away from three restaurants in a row. Of course, every hot spot was staffed with a smug hostess. You know the type: gorgeous, snobby, and ready to treat you like a sewer mutant the moment you utter the words, “We don’t have a reservation.”

There is a special place in hell for the smug restaurant hostess, right next to the bitchy designer-shoe salesperson. These are people who are ostensibly in the service industry, and yet the only thing they seem interested in serving is a massive quantity of shade. Yes, the smug hostess is perhaps the most terrifying beast of our modern cosmopolitan landscape, and one who can send you running for shelter.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Mentally Unstable Uber Driver

I once took an Uber trip during which my driver treated me to a half-hour monologue about “God’s plan” for him, and how “everyone in the world” would soon know his name and those who doubted him “would be sorry.” He refused to divulge the details of this ominous plan, and I began to pray that “God’s plan” didn’t involve my murder on the way to the airport. Finally, after a very tense commute, he decided that “God would be cool” if he told me the plan. As it turned out, God’s plan involved him winning a Grammy for a yet-to-be-recorded album. We arrived at the airport, and I still gave him five stars, mainly out of sheer relief that I was not Aileen Wuornos-ed on the side of the highway.

We’ve all had one (or more): the Uber, Lyft, or taxi driver who seems mentally unstable. They range from benignly loopy to downright life-threatening. When you're stuck with one, it can make you wish you had found an alternate form of transportation.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Annoying Acquaintance You Can’t Stop Running Into

There is an individual (we’ll call her Tina) who I worked with for approximately four months. Tina and I were never friends, but we weren’t enemies either. Our relationship was one of harmonious, mutual indifference. Sometimes you just don’t like someone all that much, and it’s perfectly fine. Perfectly fine, that is, until that someone moves to your neighborhood and you begin running into them all the time: getting coffee, walking the dog, shopping at the grocery store. Tina and I see each other more now than when we worked together. We have entered a soul-sucking social catch-22: Not to say "hi" would be rude, but to have a conversation requires more social patience than either of us possess. We’ve now resorted to a wave and half-smile, with no dialogue. It seems to be the best possible solution to fate’s cruel insistence on these awkward encounters.

The acquaintance catch-22 is something we’ve all dealt with. You’re late for a meeting, and you run smack into someone you can't not say hello to. It’s enough to make you skip that meeting and run straight for a hermitage.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Neighbor Who Seems To Hate You For No Reason

When I lived in New York, my roommate and I had an upstairs neighbor who hated us for NO REASON. Okay, he maybe had, like, half a reason: There was that one time my roommate and I held an impromptu vigil for Whitney Houston the day after her death, which ultimately turned into a dance party that lasted until 2 a.m., and was accompanied by the sounds of 30 drunks screaming, “Where do broken hearts go?!” But that was ONE night only, and paled in comparison to the DAILY stomping that shook our ceiling. We apologized profusely to our neighbor and gave him a bottle of wine as a peace offering, but he never forgave us. I began to dread the hallways of our building, fearing a run-in with our evil Neighbor to the North. He eventually moved out and was replaced by a sexy and chill furniture designer (proof that there is a God, and she watches Sex and the City).

Though our neighbor had probable cause for his hatred, it was still unclear why he held that grudge for so long. We’ve all been recipients of inexplicable neighbor shade, and it’s enough to make one rethink the answer to Mister Rogers’ iconic question: “Won’t you be my neighbor?”
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Your Professional Frenemy

My advice on frenemies: Don’t have them. I used to have a professional frenemy who I'd see about once a month. We’d “get drinks” (a.k.a. clock one another’s professional progress, endlessly one-upping each other), and go home mutually miserable. It was a joyless friendship, and one that only brought out the worst in me. So I made a decision no longer to engage in the frenemy game, and only surround myself with supportive and positive people.

We’ve all had a professional frenemy. This person works in the same industry as you, lives to troll you, and constantly attempts to best you. This person is the Mariah to your Nicki, the Mariah to your J.Lo, and the Mariah to your, well...just about anyone. Best to kick 'em to the curb before they ruin your life.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
People Who Hate Beyoncé

Just, whatever you do, don’t ever tell me you hate Beyoncé. Okay? Moving on.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Overly Political Mansplainer

I encountered a bro acquaintance of mine (bro-quaintance?) at a friend’s housewarming party. This particular bro-quaintance had been testing my social media patience as of late, with pro-Bernie posts every half hour across ALL social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and EVEN SNAPCHAT). But still, we were at a party, the mood was light, and I was willing to put aside my feelings of annoyance. I approached my bro-quaintance optimistically, and attempted to engage in some light cocktail chatter. But no sooner did I approach, than I was quickly trapped in a 30-minute mansplain on why Bernie is the perfect candidate. And here’s the thing...I don’t disagree with his politics, I simply disagree with the idea that it’s okay to imprison anyone in an unsolicited and condescending lecture at a COCKTAIL PARTY (or ever, for that matter).

We’re living in highly political times, and everyone is entitled to their opinions. But please, Overly Political Mansplainer, save the lectures for your Facebook profile (which I have conveniently unfollowed).
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Your Coworker Who Takes The Same Public Transit To Work As You

In New York, my boss and I lived in the same neighborhood. This meant we also (gulp) shared a train stop. We actually had a great working relationship, but that didn’t necessarily mean I wanted to drum up 30 minutes of pre-coffee small talk on the F train. And yet, on those few mornings when we ran into each other, we had no choice but to rack our brains for conversation fodder as we desperately fantasized about the moment we could run to our separate offices.

If you’re like me, all you want to do on your daily commute is sit in silence on the train, and attempt to finish just one article in The New Yorker. There’s no worse feeling than when you see your coworker hop onto the same train car, and know you face an inescapable awkward convo. No one will blame you if you try to avoid said coworker on the subway platform by hiding behind a book or a column. Said coworker might even be grateful.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Constant Rescheduler

Gather 'round the campfire for a scary story, children: I once tried to “get drinks” with an acquaintance in L.A. We emailed back and forth more than was necessary, citing our various calendar conflicts, but finally chose a date for three weeks in the future. The day of our drinks came, and I received an email from this acquaintance claiming he had a last-minute work crisis. Could we reschedule? “Why, yes,” I said. We picked another date, a month in the future. That day came, and he canceled again. This ridiculous rescheduling continued for SIX MONTHS!! I finally put my foot down, and simply never responded to his fifth and final, “So so sorry, but can we reschedule...” email.

“We should get drinks sometime,” is a phrase that is uttered with alarming frequency in most modern metropolitan areas, and almost never meant sincerely. The Constant Rescheduler will make you long never to schedule anything EVER again, and simply stay holed up in your apartment forever.
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