April 26, 2010

Unwritten Rules of Being a New Yorker

Want to be a New Yorker for a day? Follow these unwritten rules and you'll fit in just fine:

1. Walk fast. We walk at a much faster pace than the rest of the country and have mastered the art of weaving in and out of crowds with ease.
2. Talk fast. Or rather, we like to get to the point. We're very blunt and don't spend a lot of time on niceties and small talk. The advantage? A plethora of interesting conversations.
3. Move over. When we're done paying at a store, we slide over to put away change and receipts so as not to keep the next customer waiting.
4. Keep walking. When we get to the top of subway stairs we keep moving, even if we're unsure of our direction. This also applies at street level.
5. Step to the side. If we need to look at a map or other directions we'll step to the side, we don't stand in the middle of fast-flowing sidewalk traffic.
6. Walk staggered. When walking with friends or family we walk staggered, not in a line. There's not enough room here to sprawl.
7. Holding hands. We often don't with our significant other. It's not uncommon for us to walk between a couple if that's the fastest route to maneuver through a crowd.
8. Tiny spaces. We've mastered the art of cramming into teeny tiny apts, shoe-boxed sized restaurants and crowded subway cars. The photo above shows how we read our newspapers on the train: fold, fold, fold.
9. Don't block subway doors. We know that when the subway doors open we move away from them by either stepping out of the car or moving to the center of the train.
10. Hailing a cab. We don't whistle or yell "taxi," like in the movies. We stick our arm up, hand raised and voila! Taxi.
11. Overpriced. We accept we're paying $45 for a steak (just the steak) and $16 for a martini because the restaurant has to pay their overpriced rent, as real estate is at a premium (okay, an extreme premium) here.
12. Lines. We know to stand in one line at drug stores, department stores and fast food places and wait for an employee at one of the many registers to yell "next, step down."
13. Waiting for the light to change. We know to stand on the street next to the curb, not on the curb itself. Time is precious and this way we're one step closer to our destination.
14. Eating pizza. We know that a whole pizza is called a "pie," a single piece is a "slice," just cheese is a "plain" (possibly the most popular), and we fold our slice in half (lengthwise) before digging in.
15. Neighbors. We usually don't know our neighbors. We mind our own business and stay out of theirs. We may live next to someone for 5 years and couldn't pick them out of a line up - and after being surrounded by a multitude of people all day, that's just fine by us. So if we don't give you a warm smile and say "Hi!" don't be offended. It's not personal, it's just New York.

16. The end. We know time is of the essence so...enjoy the rest of your day!


  1. Well said! Especially the pizza slice part.
    And I just wanted to say I've know some of my neighbors my whole life. I know that makes me an oddity, but it is possible to forge bonds here, even if you wish they sometimes didn't recognize you! LOL

  2. Thanks Lori! And that's why it's good to get the perspective of a native NYer. I agree, when you've grown up here (or even just continue to have family here) it's more likely you'll know your neighbors. They would have known your parents, siblings, etc. Definitely more "neighborhood-like" than typical transient NY.
    Perhaps I should amend it to say people not living in their childhood neighborhoods--or those more prone to frequent moves--tend to not know their neighbors. Thanks for weighing in!