The New York Mentality
I love tourists. There is something cute and special about them, the innocent way in which they experience New York City. I’m not about to burst their bubble either; truth is, they are likely not returning anytime soon. So go right ahead, be my guest and walk as slowly as you want so that you can stare up in amazement at the Empire State Building. Yes, it’s an astounding sight. Spend your money in our lovely city, get your requisite picture with the Naked Cowboy in Times Square and take away an experience of a lifetime.
However… to those of you that want to MOVE to and LIVE in New York, you get one shot to be a tourist. Only one. Make it count because after this, you’re gonna need to get the foo-foo nature of tourism out of your system. It’s very easy to misunderstand how New Yorkers respond to some things, hence why apparently we’re the rudest city in the United States. Wait, let me back up a minute. What constitutes a New Yorker? There’s a few scenarios on this one:
You were born, raised and still live here. This is what we call the ‘native New Yorker’, a la the Odyssey song from the 70s. You grew up in an era before 42nd street was an entertainment playground and was seedy hooker central. You remember the old red subway trains covered with graffiti & the now defunct double letter local trains (ahem, LL and the RR trains anyone?). You remember when Bed Stuy wasn’t trendy to live in and, if you take it really far back, when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn. This is when the hood was REALLY the hood. Yup. NATIVE.
Then there’s the transplant. You moved from some other location and have lived in NYC for more than 10 years. The transplant, in this case, gets the right to call themselves a New Yorker for sheer time dedicated to the city. Not an inch of tourist exists in you… only when your friends abroad come to visit, and even THAT annoys you to some extent. You’re the person that feels a certain connection with NYC; it’s a part of your soul. You’ve put down some real roots here and have no intention of going back to wherever you came from. That’s not home: THIS is.
I was going to add another category, but nah… changed my mind. Here’s the deal: New Yorkers run on double-time. Everything is quick, we need it now – no YESTERDAY, and we expect things a certain way. Yes, that’s the definition of a snob. I’ll be the first to say it: New Yorkers are snobs. We think our city is the best in the world (well, it is), we’ve got the best sports fans in the country (think of the epic rivalries between the Yankees & Mets) and we are used to convenience 24/7/365, even on New Years Day. Can you honestly think of a city where you can go out at 3am, take the subway (or catch a cab) and find an open French bistro to have breakfast… then make fun of all the piss drunk clubbers heading home?
New Yorkers want it all because in this city we have everything we need. Every cuisine is spoken for in this city, likewise most cultures. Duane Reade is the left arm of this city because they have damn near every practical thing you need AND there’s locations all over that are open 24/7.; if you need your medication, a turkey sandwich, deodorant & a beer, they’ve got it ALL. Our transportation system runs all night — you can always get where you want to go, albeit slower than normal.
Where does the rudeness come in, you ask? It’s in how we do our every day activities. We walk fast, talk fast, eat fast… because there’s always the next thing. When anything slows that progression, it gets annoying. All that fast everything is probably why we’re the 2nd most stressful city in the United States. Look, there’s a give and take with everything. However, New Yorkers have an amazing sense of camaraderie and neighborliness when the chips are down. 9/11 really proved New Yorkers are made of tough stuff. Never had people pulled together and helped each other with such honor in the face of devastation. Hell, we had a blackout and threw a city-wide party!
I’d like to say that New Yorkers are actually better people than they were 30 years ago. We have a better appreciation for each other and for other nationalities than anywhere. This city stands as an example of what the United States should be: a mesh of nationalities and cultures coexisting somewhat harmoniously. Clashes are inevitable, but on the whole, I think it is a true microcosm.
All of that said, come to New York! Don’t be afraid to ask people for directions, just understand that the directions will be given to you quickly (and mostly accurately). Chop chop!! We’ve got stuff to do! And if you’re going to stay with us, welcome! Just know the rules.
Oh, and for those New Yorkers that have the bug to travel and live abroad… you’ll be back & we’ll be waiting for you. Once a New Yorker, ALWAYS a New Yorker.