You never really know someone until you’ve traveled together. Something as simple as the way they order dinner, or speak to your AirBnB host can change your opinion of even your best friends, bringing you closer together, or tearing you apart. One of the most important indicators of a human’s quality is the type of souvenirs they’ll buy on vacation. A tourist in New York who snags a Statue of Liberty snow globe sends a very different message than one who cops those black T-shirts that read “Fuck You, You Fucking Fuck.” What kind of person actually buys those, anyway?

“Well, you know… fat people,” offers Ashik Hossain, a thirty-something man with a buzz cut who hawks T-shirts from a stand inside the Phoenix Mall in downtown Manhattan. Like countless other employees of souvenir shops that occupy storefronts from Little Italy to Times Square, he is on the front lines of New York City’s tourist industry, coming face to face with the 50 million out-of-towners who descend upon the five boroughs each year (or at least four of the five—keep trying, Staten Island). Those looking to return home with a tee commemorating their visit to the Big Apple have plenty of designs to choose from: A black and white panoramic cityscape, a bedazzled Empire State Building, a take on The Godfather movie poster that honors Mulberry Street, even a parody of the Starbucks logo. As the T-shirt shop proprietors tell it, the tees visitors gravitate toward tend to give you a pretty specific and consistent glimpse at who they are.

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