Why City People Understand A Whole Different Kind Of Politeness
I've called New York City my home for the past 16 years. For all intents and purposes, I'm a native.
A couple of weeks ago, while on a Pinterest binge, I came across a guide explaining “how to talk to New Yorkers.” Clearly, we city residents have our own language! We always knew we were basically a separate country, but this just proved it.
When I travel out of town and tell anyone I'm from New York, the usual response is, “Wow, you guys are mean!” Mean? Us? You must be talking about a different New York, buddy.
This isn't just a New York City thing. My friends from Miami, Chicago and Los Angeles have all heard the same statements.
I think you have us mistaken, for city people are some of the nicest you'll ever come across. Here's why.
We're not rude, we're just busy.
Here's the thing with city people: We're always in a rush to get from Point A to Point B. If you're standing in the way, we'll get pissed.
Big cities, especially New York City, are both culture and business hubs. Everyone is always hurrying somewhere — to or from work, lunch, to a date. New Yorkers tend to respect one another's need to be quick, so we don't dawdle. We won't pause for conversation or ask you how your day is going. We've got places to be.
We have a different standard of politeness.
In smaller towns I've visited, it's customary to say hello to people on the street and thank the pizza delivery person. It just isn't like that in the big city.
Don't get me wrong, we're a “please and thank you” kind of place, but city folk view the act of being polite differently. To us, being polite is stepping aside to let someone pass or getting up from a subway seat when a pregnant woman or elderly person steps onto the train.
We don't expect you to spend half an hour thanking us, and we won't do that, either. It's just how we are.
We might be cramped, but we respect your space.
New Yorkers know a thing or two about living in small spaces. We share converted two-bedroom apartments with three roommates, have never even seen a backyard and go to restaurants with only enough room for eight people (those are the best ones, by the way). But, when we're walking on the street or standing on the train, we'll respect everyone else's space.
Take, for example, proper subway etiquette. Every New Yorker knows unless you leave at least one seat between each passenger on the train, unless it's rush hour. It creates a buffer that's just common sense.
The other day, I was on the train at 2 pm on a Sunday — the polar opposite of rush hour — when a gaggle of tourists hopped on board. Instead of sitting across the aisle, they felt the need to sit directly next to me, choosing to forgo space on the nearly empty train to squish me, instead.
And they call New Yorkers rude.
We always help.
Last year, I was roofied. With the help of a bouncer, my roommate and I were able to get into a cab home.
When we got out of the cab, my roommate was able to get out while I toppled to the sidewalk. My legs landed under the cab and the driver refused to get out to help.
A group of guys walking by saw it happen. One princess-carried me home, while the other helped my roommate into our apartment. The guy even took my shoes off and tucked me in. He basically saved my life.
It's not just extreme situations, either. Every time I've needed help carrying my bags, chasing my dog or holding my hair back while puking, New Yorkers have always been there.
We don't stand for entitlement.
The sidewalk is the ultimate equalizer.
One of the most important things to remember when you're in a big city is to respect sidewalk space. Take, for example, texting. If you're texting someone something super long, you move to the side of the street.
Most native New Yorkers avoid Times Square, because it's filled with tourists taking out their iPads and snapping photos in the middle of the damn street, forcing those who actually have a place to be to topple over them.
This type of sidewalk entitlement doesn't fly with us, and naturally, we get mad. We snap. We might tell you to f*cking move. That doesn't make us rude -- it makes you look like a brat for thinking that your square of space on the pavement is more important than our need to get to our destination.
And that just doesn't fly.