April 21, 2010

NYC: Myth vs. Fact

A friend of a friend visited NYC and decided, after one day, she didn't like it. At all. The reasons? Because NYers were "rude," she didn't feel "safe," and everything was "expensive." Like with any big city, those are valid concerns, but had she taken the time to read up a little on NYC  or even ask her friend some questions, she may have had a different experience. Below are some common NYC myths I'd like to dispel:

1. NYers are rude. FACT: NYers are direct and aggressive. If you ask for directions we'll happily give them to you. But then that's it, we're done. NYers don't care why you're going there or if your cousin went there last year and really liked it - we have things to do, places to be.

2. The subway isn't safe. FACT: The subway is, for the most part, safe. Just pay attention - to signs and those around you - and hold onto your bag (purse) and phone. 2am-6am is usually the most "unsafe" time since less people are riding, but even then, very few incidents take place.

3. Your purse/bag will be stolen. FACT: Not likely if you 1) firmly grip said item when walking 2) keep item by your feet, not on the back of a chair at restaurants 3) pay attention to your surroundings instead of the tall buildings. Observe, if you will, the little girl in the photo above clutching both bags, she knows what's up. So put away the fanny packs and stop wearing the backpack across your chest - we (probably) won't steal your bag.

4. The city never sleeps. FACT: The city naps - or rather, power naps. Yes it's loud here and our city "bird" very well may be the siren, but between 2-6am there's a lull in the amount of people and noise as commuters go home and most businesses close. However, last call is 4am so if you chose not to sleep, head to the nearest bar to find wide awake, noise-making compadres.

5. You can't visit inexpensively. FACT: You can if you know some tricks because yes, it's generally an expensive city. Try a bed & breakfast, a cheaper alternative to pricey hotels. As for food, there are many reasonably-priced restaurants, just browse the menus posted outside. Also, get half-price Broadway tickets the day of the show. There are many more tips, but those are a few to get you started.

6. All NYers have fabulous, Sex and the City lives. FACT: Not even close. If you're lucky enough to have a trust fund, a very (very) high-paying job or you don't mind swimming in credit card debt then yes, that lifestyle can be yours round the clock. Otherwise you learn to budget like anywhere else, and pick and chose your extravagances.

7. NY taxis aren't safe. FACT:  They're as safe as a roller coaster and roughly the same experience. Since drivers work for tips they're eager to get to the next fare so...buckle up! And don't worry about them not staying in their lane, we don't believe in lanes. However, we do believe in aggressive merging and cutting people off to get to our destination faster.

8. "If I can make it here..." refers to career only. FACT: It takes a special kind of person to live in NYC. You have to put up with a lot of noise, hoards of people, crowded subway cars, tiny living spaces, outrageous rents, $20 burgers. Not to mention possibly the largest crowd of aggressive, type-A, overachievers ever assembled. You want that account executive job? So do 843 other people. Good luck with that.

9. All NY Italians are in the mob. FACT: If you're looking for Goodfellas, you'll have to rent the movie. Stop by Little Italy and the picture looks quite different: older men in track suits with grey chest hair peeking out under gold chains and stark white sneakers. They're probably smoking cigars and discussing the goings-on of the block, not plotting who's next to "swim with the fishes. A mob like the old days? Fuggedaboutit.

10. Everything happens in a "NY minute." FACT: There's actually a lot of waiting. NYers certainly walk at a faster pace and expect things to happen yesterday, but we also spend a lot of our time waiting. Because not only does NY looks like a movie set, it functions like one too. You hurry up...and wait. For the train, in long lines at the store, an hour for a table at brunch. When 8.2 million people want the same thing at once, well...see you in line!

Remember, when traveling you don't have to agree with the nature of the people or their customs, but trips are more pleasant when you understand why things happen the way they do. It's the whole "when in Rome" thing. Except first, you'll need to learn about "Rome." Now if you'll excuse me, I have a line to wait in. When in Rome...

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