Considering I live in a city, it's not unusual to think that I come across hundreds of people. But I have nothing on 48-year-old Brian Robinson, the man who has met more than 500 women on the subway alone. Now, he's releasing a book, appropriately titled How to Meet Women on the Subway, and it's filled with tips on how to use public transportation to improve your dating life. Robinson's core strategy is simple: pretend you're lost, then ask for directions. He tells the New York Post :
I would always say, ‘Is this local or express?’ and then say, ‘I hear an accent: Where are you from?’ It’s an awesome door-opener — 97 percent of all NYC women are from someplace else [...] No matter what place she says, say, ‘Wow, I’ve always wanted to visit your country/city, etc. . . . do you have e-mail?
Some of his other "helpful" tips include paying for her ride "if she's fumbling at the turnstile," or wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase because "it communicates strength and security, even if you live with your mom." And then there's my personal favorite: "Ask where she’s from; if she’s from NYC or somewhere local, just say, 'I thought you were French.'" On the surface, it all seems relatively harmless, which is probably why so many women have allegedly agreed to give Robinson their number or email over the years. Even the New York Post credits this strategy for making Robinson a "railway Romeo" who's been picking up women since 1999. Others, however, simply call him an "asshole" for feigning genuine interest in a woman, just to get her number.
I have to say, I'm inclined to agree with the latter. It would be one thing if Robinson saw the subway as a diverse and highly populated location to find that special someone, but it's clear that his is a numbers game. The fact that he has hit on over 500 women — and then bragged about it in a book — implies that his intent is mostly just to rack up as many phone numbers as possible, rather than actually get to know any of these women.
In a speech Robinson delivered at the 2009 District 46 Toastmasters International Humorous Speech Contest, he even goes so far as to refer to women as "targets." Although it was intended to be a comical speech, laughing about how much women are suckers for falling for his lines isn't the least bit funny, if you ask me.
To me, it all seems part of a calculated strategy to "get some," and yeah, it's kind of creepy. While Robinson's tactics may seem benign, one can also argue that he's exploiting chivalry with the simple end goal of getting a woman's phone number. Most women don't welcome pick-up artists on the street or on the subway, and it's offensive to assume that we are that easily manipulated.
Unfortunately, some women do respond to this behavior. After describing their observations of Robinson "in action," the Post reported that women were receptive to his advances, describing him as "engaging," "cordial," and not "aggressive."
Which, I think, is part of the problem. It's hard to know that the person being especially nice to you on the subway has used the same line 499 times before. It's also important to note that there's nothing wrong with approaching someone on the subway or responding to someone's advances if you feel like it. But we should be able to respond because we genuinely want to, not because we're being played.
As harmless as Robinson might seem, the sad truth is that pick-up artists aren't going to disappear from the subway system, or any other public location, anytime soon. Street harassment and unwelcome advances are everywhere, and it's up to us to call people out if we feel we're being used or mistreated.
As for Robinson, apparently he doesn't need his con artist-like pick-up strategy any longer. He's married, and as such he's passing the baton to fellow subway-goers. Women of New York City, beware.
Check out this video for footage of Robinson dancing on the subway: