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Have New Yorkers have always been rude?
October 30, 2011 10:37 AM   Subscribe

New Yorkers have always been seen as fast-talking and rude. [NYTimes]

Yes, it goes way back to Manhattan's very beginning. Pre-revolutionary governors were part of it. In 1774 Thomas Adams wrote "There is no modesty, no attention to one another. They talk very loud, very fast and altogether." The article also quotes Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
posted by exphysicist345 (91 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Once again, they got it backwards. The rest of you people are ponderous and won't get to the fucking point and I have places to be people come ON.
posted by griphus at 10:39 AM on October 30, 2011 [55 favorites]


As a recent transplant to New York, I have found the old aphorism to be true: In New York, when they say 'Fuck you,' it means 'Hello'—but in Los Angeles, when they say 'Hello,' it means 'Fuck you.'
posted by pts at 10:43 AM on October 30, 2011 [37 favorites]


Deborah Tannen has a very interesting essay on New Yorker speech patterns
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:45 AM on October 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


...As a corollary to the above aphorism, I offer the following anecdote:

I went to get a months-overdue haircut down at Village Cuts last summer; a few of the boys were hanging out on the stoop. As I approached, I paused to make sure they were open, at which point one of them took one look at my shaggy head, jerked his thumb in the direction of the shop's front door and said, in a pretty thick Australian accent and with no preamble whatsoever...

"Get in there, you woolly fuck!"

I've been a loyal customer ever since.
posted by pts at 10:48 AM on October 30, 2011 [22 favorites]


Stoop, huh? Jesus, I ain't hoid that woid since Paul F'in Simon used it in onna his catchy l'il tunes.
posted by Twang at 10:55 AM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had a Prius with NY plates try to pass me on the gravel shoulder while I was going 55 in a 45. The guy gave up, then passed me on the right anyway, giving me the finger, then passed the car ahead of us on a curve, almost colliding with oncoming traffic. My girlfriend assured me that that sort of stuff goes on all the time in New York.

Personally, I think there's something profoundly wrong with a culture if shit like that is common. They can leave their attitudes in NY, or drive off the Portsmouth bridge.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:56 AM on October 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Stoop, huh? Jesus, I ain't hoid that woid since Paul F'in Simon used it in onna his catchy l'il tunes.

Serious question: what is it called elsewhere?
posted by griphus at 10:58 AM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, Colin Woodard just put out a book, "American Nations", that's somewhat relevant to this.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:58 AM on October 30, 2011


LobsterMitten, thank you for that link.

dunkadunc, that sort of driving is not common in NYC. Not in my experience (occasional living, frequent visiting, and a stint as a 'pusher' for a commercial moving company in Queens.)
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:58 AM on October 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


I broke my avoid America at all costs rule this past summer because my friend moved to NYC. And I assumed it was going to be a lot of people walking here and there, yelling, "I'm walking here." But no. New York seemed to be filled plenty of friendly people. My wife and I were stuck in a serious-ass downpour, putting our baby in her stroller, and some old lady walked by and asked if we wanted an umbrella. We were all, "No thanks," and she was all, "No it's cool, I live down the road, i'll be right back with one." We ended up convincing her we would be fine. (Though an umbrella would have been quite nice.) There was lots of stuff like that.
posted by chunking express at 11:04 AM on October 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


Once again, they got it backwards. The rest of you people are ponderous and won't get to the fucking point and I have places to be people come ON.

This. "It's called a sidewalk, not a sidestand-around-like-an-asshole, you dumb fuck!"

But seriously, we're very glad to have you, dear tourists, and I'll happily stop and give you directions and even recommendations for out-of-the-way places you might enjoy if you flag me down and ask nicely (and remember to say thank you in whatever your local lingo is when I do things like hold doors for you, or clean up the pile of slop that you left behind because I'm using the table after you and you're expected to self-bus, but you probably don't know that). You don't really "get" subways, so you just wasted your swipe trying to get through a turnstile, and since I have an unlimited Metro Card, I'll even swipe you through as I head out, and that's cool too, because I remember not really "getting" your public transportation, either. I'll probably even just smile at you for no apparent reason, just because that seems like a thing that would make you feel at home in my city.

So all I ask is this: be aware of the people around you. I know you're probably from somewhere there's lots of space, so if you take up a whole sidewalk with your extended gaggle of family out on a leisurely stroll, it doesn't really inconvenience anyone. But here, you're pulling that shit in a busy part of town during rush hour, and I live here. I work here. I cracked a molar and I have to get to the dentist. Just ... pull over to the side a bit. Walk no more than two abreast. Don't randomly throw your arm out to point at something that caught your interest. Always, always, always stay to your right -- there are people trying to go in the opposite direction, and that what the left is for.

It might sound complicated, but again, really: just be aware of the people around you, and everything will go much better for everyone.

In short, we're actually quite nice -- we rather have to be, or we'd all kill each other -- but we're a bit like sharks: if we stop moving, we die. So don't make me bite you.
posted by Amanojaku at 11:05 AM on October 30, 2011 [33 favorites]


Personally, I think there's something profoundly wrong with a culture if shit like that is common. They can leave their attitudes in NY, or drive off the Portsmouth bridge.

Almost certainly someone from upstate NY, rather than NYC -- most of us don't have a car, even a Prius.
posted by Amanojaku at 11:09 AM on October 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


I've noticed a lot of people come here expecting everybody to be obnoxious, so either to fit in or protect themselves, they push people around. And that annoys the locals and lifers enough to make them push back. If you judge New York by the Upper West Side, you only get a sense of this dynamic, transplants trying to fit in by never yielding an inch to anyone, anywhere, slamming shoulders with locals who long ago quit trying to be decent to the johnnies-come-lately.

But if you go to Queens, or to Brooklyn, the Bronx, even if you go to Manhattan neighborhoods where people haven't been priced out and actually want to settle down, and you find more hearts of gold than I've ever encountered anywhere else. Sure, there are patters that intimidate the uninitiated. Locals here will tell you to hurry up after they open a door for you, they'll push you out of the way if you're blocking foot traffic, but even after a long subway commute and a knee-breaking trip up the stairs, they'll walk right back down the stairs to help a mom carry her stroller down. Probably happens elsewhere, but contrary to perceptions, it happens all the time here too.

I grew up in Baltimore, and even though the John Adams quote in the link is centuries old, I think it's hilarious when Bostoners make noise about how anyone else talks. They sound like clowns.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 11:10 AM on October 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


I just moved from NYC to Minnesota - which has a reputation for inhabitants being nice without being friendly, cheerful but bland, passive aggressive, and too frequently not saying what they mean.

It's weird.

I'm talk fast, I'm sarcastic, I'm blunt, I'm cheerful, and I'm well-meaning. I'm not used to talking in circles, to endless small talk, and to roundabout conversational footdragging in place of "no I don't want to do that."

Basically, we speak different languages. And it's been far far easier to become friendly with other East Coasters out here.
posted by entropone at 11:24 AM on October 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


New Yorkers are very quick with the practical assistance. Especially if you have a baby or small child, but even before then I always found them very helpful. Get-to-the-point and verbally "rude" compared to other areas, but helpful and generous.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:26 AM on October 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I assumed it was going to be a lot of people walking here and there, yelling, "I'm walking here." But no. New York seemed to be filled plenty of friendly people.

It is.

Many New Yorkers are loud, helpful, blunt, and to the point. It's not that people are arseholes in public. It's that people are assertive - with their walking, with their advice, with their directions, their helpfulness, or whatever. Enmity isn't more common than other places; but I think that visitors confuse assertiveness with enmity.
posted by entropone at 11:28 AM on October 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


entropone, my in-laws and partner are Minnesotan, and the bizarre reluctance to say "no" or make any kind of distinct preference known is a great source of frustration for me. I feel your pain.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:30 AM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'M TALKING HERE. I'M TALKING HERE! GETTOUTAHERE!
posted by Fizz at 11:33 AM on October 30, 2011


Coupla thoughts. (Hey, I'm thinking here!) As a sorta-New Yorker I enjoyed the post and LobsterMitten's link, so thanks for those.

Isn't speed of walking and talking correlated with population density pretty much everywhere? (Maybe with an adjustment for temperature and humidity thrown in - life in the tropics is more languid for a reason, even in big cities.) Are New Yorkers really that much faster than Londoners, Tokyoites, etc? I think a lot of this is confirmation bias, cemented by pop culture like pretty much every movie ever set in the Big Apple and expressions like "in a New York minute!"

Rudeness ... well, it's in the eye of the beholder. Tannen's article seems a trifle dated now, but her point about talking being a way to include/pull others into your group is still good. Interrupting and overtalking are a form of active listening, not rudeness (in NY, anyway) - you show you are paying attention by anticipating somebody's point before they actually get there. TIME SAVED!
posted by Quietgal at 11:33 AM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


So all I ask is this: be aware of the people around you. I know you're probably from somewhere there's lots of space, so if you take up a whole sidewalk with your extended gaggle of family out on a leisurely stroll, it doesn't really inconvenience anyone. But here, you're pulling that shit in a busy part of town during rush hour, and I live here. I work here. I cracked a molar and I have to get to the dentist. Just ... pull over to the side a bit. Walk no more than two abreast. Don't randomly throw your arm out to point at something that caught your interest. Always, always, always stay to your right -- there are people trying to go in the opposite direction, and that what the left is for.

God, this. Sidewalks (and holy fucking shit subway staircases) are a primary means of conveyance in NYC, not a leisure destination. It's the same as if you were driving on the interstate in another city and ahead of you were four cars were going 40 MPH side by side while leaning out the window pointing at things.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 11:37 AM on October 30, 2011 [13 favorites]


Also, I think when you get off the train/bus/airplane, there should be a Practice Street. A perfect simulation of, for instance, Broadway between Prince and Houston on Saturday at 2 P.M. Once you can get from one side of the block to the other without coming to a complete stop, you're allowed in.
posted by griphus at 11:38 AM on October 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


This does remind me of a joke that someone told me once. It's definitely slanted in favour of southerners. A lady from Georgia sits down on a plane next to a lady from New York. The lady from Georgia turns to the lady from New York and asks: "Where y'all from?" To which the lade from New York responds: "Where I'm from we learn how to speak and do not end our sentences that way." The lady from Georgia remains quiet for a few seconds and then says in response: "Where y'all from BITCH!?"
posted by Fizz at 11:39 AM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


See also: "I'm not angry, I'm from Philadelphia"
posted by hellojed at 11:46 AM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Realistically, a New Yorker sitting next to someone on a plane would probably avoid talking to them like they had a communicable disease. We know too well the pitfalls of being stuck 3 inches from someone you don't like. Better to be stuck 3 inches from someone you don't care about in any way.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:52 AM on October 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


A lot of tourists who come to "the big city" walk slowly and in the middle of the sidewalk not just because they want to see the sights, but because, where they come from, walking is a leisure activity you do in the park, or at the zoo, or the like (hence "taking a walk"). Walking is just not a part of their life experience. Walking is not transportation from home to work or vice-versa. Outside of major cities, people have to drive everywhere. They have to drive forty-five minutes to and from work, and they have little or no public transportation, so it's just flat-out foreign to be surrounded by people who are walking with a purpose.

As for loud and rude--I've lived in both NYC and Chicago, and I've always found the natives to be far more friendly out on the streets than any tourists. I love to help people who are standing in the middle of the sidewalk, staring at a map blankly and trying to orient themselves--but when I do, I ease us away from the street so we're standing near the buildings.

the young rope-rider: entropone, my in-laws and partner are Minnesotan, and the bizarre reluctance to say "no" or make any kind of distinct preference known is a great source of frustration for me.

You've probably seen this great AskMe answer, but if not: Ask Culture vs. Guess Culture.
posted by tzikeh at 11:55 AM on October 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


We flyover people have our stereotypes, sure, but my open-minded teenage daughter, who was predisposed to like the City, was taken aback by the rudeness she encountered this summer.

Of course, things like smiling and making small talk might just seem like bullshit to New Yorkers (who certainly like their city way more than do those who live in L.A.), but I like smiles and pleasantries. Every so often they lead to more meaningful interactions. In a city of a half a million with another million or so suburbanites (whom we never see), a lot of us know each other, too. There are at least a dozen cities with almost identical populations between the Continental Divide and the East Coast.

Of course, New York City is not a monolith. It has neighborhoods, so when you live there, you probably have a different experience than visitors have.
posted by kozad at 11:57 AM on October 30, 2011


Actually, in places like a bar or cafe or whatever, New Yorkers are really very friendly and welcoming to visitors. It's out on the sidewalk and subways and places where shit gets urgent that we have to be brusque by neccessity.
posted by jonmc at 11:57 AM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interrupting and overtalking are a form of active listening, not rudeness (in NY, anyway) - you show you are paying attention by anticipating somebody's point before they actually get there. TIME SAVED!

Unless you are wrong, which you often are, and then it's a huge hassle that simply wouldn't exist if you'd just shut the fuck up for half a second.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:08 PM on October 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


You've probably seen this great AskMe answer, but if not: Ask Culture vs. Guess Culture.

Hadn't. Thanks so much - that is a really excellent stroke of the analytical knife.
posted by entropone at 12:10 PM on October 30, 2011


"frequently not saying what they mean."

They're totally saying what they mean, they're just using a language you're not getting.

My husband has the same problem, he does not understand the face-saving not-nos of the midwest, that when someone say, "Oh, I'd love to, but I'm not sure it will work with my kid's schedule today!" that really means, "I like you and do not want to hurt your feelings, but no, I'm exhausted and don't wanna," and is not an invitation to move all the times to accommodate them so they have no polite way to get out of it.

But yes, it took me quite a while to get what he wasn't getting, since I think midwestern communication is perfectly straightforward. Because I speak the code.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:12 PM on October 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Fizz, I've heard that joke with Cambridge, Mass., as the setting, and the punchline as "Where is the library at, asshole?" Surely this speech pattern is associated with urban centers the world over.

As a transplanted Mississippian, I actually find Yan -- New Yorkers and New Englanders to be more friendly, in their way. When a person from my hometown has noticed you're a stranger, that person will eye you and weigh you up to measure what you might be doing there, who you might be related to or working with, and what kind of threat (if any) you present. Only then will you get your greeting, and exactly as much Southern hospitality as the person has decided to measure out, which may be a great deal -- but then again may not.

It's nothing like the sudden, garrulous openness I often find in New Yorkers and Bostonians of 20th-century immigrant descent, a torrent of words and cursing and helpfulness and philosophy. Nor is it like the honest, blunt curiosity you can find in rural New England. At home in Mississippi, I find that I'm abrupt, I walk too fast, and I don't wear enough makeup, but up here I pass for slow and country-fried. Both of these things amuse me.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:13 PM on October 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


Of course, things like smiling and making small talk might just seem like bullshit to New Yorkers (who certainly like their city way more than do those who live in L.A.), but I like smiles and pleasantries.

If you just pretend that every New Yorker you see is inside of an invisible car, you'll be much less offended. Talking to people is often the equivalent of rolling down your car window at a stoplight and trying to chat.

It is really hard to parse those social rules for when chatting is okay and when it's not, though. I'm sorry you had a rough time.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:13 PM on October 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


rope-rider: "the bizarre reluctance to say "no" or make any kind of distinct preference known is a great source of frustration for me."

The Ask.Me that helped me was the one that was all about "My 100%" where you say what your 100% ideal thing would be with the knowledge that you'll then negotiate. My husband was constantly frustrated that I wouldn't just SAY what I wanted, while I was speaking the language I grew up with where you talk around it so people aren't forced to say no directly, but everyone knows what you're talking around.

So now I will say to him, "My 100% would be Blah blah blah, but I am open to negotiation on that." And he is much less frustrated. And I am much less frustrated by his clearly bizarre refusal to read between the lines. See if your partner might be willing to try that.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:16 PM on October 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


yeah, re: friendliness, n00bs, and visitors, it's been very interesting to me to be a here in Minnesota for over a year and found it's pretty difficult to make friends, particularly among people born and raised here - who all seem to have their own thing going on and don't feel particularly inclined to open up their social networks.

Whereas in New York City, transplants come, transplants go, social scenes are so fluid that it's quite easy to be accepted into a group of people.
posted by entropone at 12:16 PM on October 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Humorous anecdote about Ask v. Guess Culture:

I am visiting a friend A and her girlfriend B. B is a Southerner and A is definitely not. A says, "What would you guys like to do next?"

I say "Why don't we [. . .]?" B disagrees by saying, "Why don't we [. . .] instead?" I say, "Let's think about [. . .]" And this goes on for several amiable minutes until A interrupts and says, "Would someone here use a declarative sentence to say what she wants."
posted by Countess Elena at 12:17 PM on October 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I recently spent three days in Midtown Manhattan due to a business meeting, my very first time actually staying in NYC. Previously, my only encounters with NYC were at Kennedy or La Guardia airports while I'd changed flights. I've been to London a dozen times, Chicago almost as much, and Los Angeles twice. I grew up near Detroit. I thought I "knew" Big Cities. Oh, and Mr. Adams had visited NYC briefly once in 1989 and warned me the entire time as we drove toward the Big Apple (we decided to drive rather than fly) that it was a dangerous place, the streets were filled with con men and pickpockets and for heaven's sake, don't look like a tourist. Not to sound like an "I *heart* NY" ad or anything, but I couldn't have been more pleased with my brief stay there. Maybe it was because we had limited time to explore and didn't venture outside of Manhattan, but every single one of my "rude New Yorker" preconceptions was shattered. Seriously, everyone we encountered from the cab drivers to servers in various restaurants to folks on the sidewalk were not brusque at all and very friendly and helpful. One incident stands out in my mind - we were walking past the stage door at Radio City Music Hall (and, of course, I'm all "Ohmigod, look, it's Radio City! Just like in the movies!") and a group of workers (probably Union members, maybe even Teamsters, who, in my previous experience, do not appreciate folks walking through the midst of their work) were loading equipment very quickly and efficiently out of the theater and into a large truck. We had to interrupt their rhythm by cutting through, and we apologized. Two of the workers said, almost in unison, "Hey, no problem!" Definitely not the New York response that TV has conditioned me to.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:18 PM on October 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


entropone, do people offer to feed you? If so, they would like to be your friend. (But we midwesterners don't like to impose our friendship on people who might not want to be friends with us.)

(Also, midwesterners will be sarcastic with you -- brutally sarcastic -- once they know you're cool. My husband also found this very disconcerting, he didn't understand why suddenly everyone was mocking him mercilessly.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:19 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have the same complaints about tourists taking up space in places I need to use to get to other places, and I work in downtown Santa Monica, CA. Pretty much anywhere that wasn't planned for tourism and becomes a tourist attraction ends up having this problem. The worst is that in SM, not only do people take up space on the sidewalk, which affects me as a habitual pedestrian but most other people I know could care less, but they also rent fucking beach cruisers and drift around all over the street like sunny little snowflakes where I'm trying to drive.

That said, I don't think anyone who comes here as a tourist would call Santa Monicans rude. I think they would say we're rather terrifying drivers, though, which I suppose amounts to the same thing.
posted by troublesome at 12:20 PM on October 30, 2011


I've lived in Dublin, and negotiated central London during rush hours. Compared to these, Manhattan feels positively leisurely: people tend to walk at a relatively slow pace, they often actually deviate to avoid oncoming people on the path, the majority seem to wait for traffic lights to signal before running across roads, they are unnervingly friendly in bars and other social spaces, and they volunteer personal information with abandon. Compared to the rest of the US they do sometimes feel on aggregate somewhat like outliers, but then so many other urban centres in the US feel absolutely glacial by comparison.
posted by meehawl at 12:26 PM on October 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I agree with meehawl. NYC is great, but it often feels like it moves at a bit of a slower pace than other major non-North American metropolitan centres.
posted by modernnomad at 12:31 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I find this image New Yorkers like to project of themselves as the rudest baddest people on earth to be amusing. In my my experience, Americans are some of the most polite and respectful people in the English speaking world.

I've been to New York loads of times. New Yorkers may be rude by American standards, but really, they're pussycats. Even the immigration people at the airport were nice.

If you really want fuck-you rude, go to Moscow.
posted by ComfySofa at 12:36 PM on October 30, 2011 [21 favorites]


Interesting - when I visited NYC I found it to be pretty friendly, with a minimum amount of bullshit and less attitude than I had been led to expect. To be fair, though, I spent half my trip in a teeth-gnashing vengeful rage that the airline had 'misplaced' my baggage and being deposited in the city with no clothes (I don't think the nice salespeople at Macy's expected to see a really pissed off Chinese girl angrily buying underpants at 9 PM) and maybe people tend to be nicer to crazy-eyed people in self-defense? Who knows. At least in NYC cars would stop when you cross the street, albeit with some honking and yelling: in Hong Kong they just keep heading straight for you.

The tourists walking thing, though - it's kind of amusing to watch the streams of people walking during rush hour at Causeway Bay or Tsim Sha Tsui from a high point: there'll always be a somewhat traumatised knot of tourists, abandoned, standing in the middle of the sidewalk with the locals just dodging their way around them with no hesitation. It's like watching well-dressed corporate salmon determinedly going for their ultimate destination around confused minnows toting bum bags. In comparison, NYC was almost relaxing. (Though your airport security people were absolutely nuts.)
posted by zennish at 12:40 PM on October 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


If you really want fuck-you rude, go to Moscow.

Just from my knowledge of elderly Russian immigrants -- who were, I also knew, lovely people -- I'll buy that. I was about to say that Israelis top out the pushy/rude end of the social spectrum in my personal experience, but it's hard to say that without seeming to express some sort of geopolitical opinion. (And again, they were lovely people.)
posted by Countess Elena at 12:42 PM on October 30, 2011


Rudeness ... well, it's in the eye of the beholder.

So true, I've never lived in NY(in fact I grew up in the south!) but I've never thought New Yorkers were rude. I actually appreciate straight-talking NYers more than the beat-around-the-bush niceties you find in the south, where "hello" also often means "fuck you"...

About NY drivers...I just want to say that my aunt's husband was a NY state trooper for many years and was shocked by the "crazy" drivers in NC. So it's all subjective. I live in DC now and usually feel lucky to make it from A to B alive.
posted by fromageball at 12:52 PM on October 30, 2011


This exact debate has happened many times on metafilter. It always, eerily, goes the same way:

- New Yorkers are rude.
- No, New York are not rude, they're just in a hurry.
- New Yorkers are, in fact, nicer than their Southern counterparts (insert Alabama here, or Countess Elena example, Mississippi.)

Yes, a 'stranger' may at first be considered suspicious in Mississippi, while not in New York City. Because, shockingly, there's not a whole lot of tourist coming to Mississippi. A tourist visiting a small town where everyone knows each other is much different than a tourist visiting a city as large as NYC. Again, there are reasons behind both stereotypes if you actually take the time to look for them.

With millions of people in New York, I'm sure there are plenty of rude people, and plenty of nice people. The same can be said of almost anywhere. So while I'm sure culture and circumstance has a way of shaping our behavior, I don't believe geography has much to do with determining if we are rude or not.

A rude person is going to be rude in New York, and Mississippi, and anywhere you put them. Because it is in their nature to be rude. And a rude person in Mississippi may adapt their ways when moving to New York, but they're not suddenly changing their colors.
posted by justgary at 12:55 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh god, the language differences between New York and other parts of the country. I've been living in Texas for ten years and I know, I know I know I know, that when my partner's mom or whoever acts really sweet and friendly to your face and then complains about you behind your back it's because that's what is taught as politeness down here - you aren't supposed to ever forgo the "southern hospitality" thing, especially if you're a woman, so all the value is placed upon "making nice" in public - but I was raised in a different culture where being blunt and to-the-point is valued and doing it their way is described as being a two-faced asshole, and I know I know I know it isn't fair to judge them that way because their culture is different but oh my god I still instinctively hate that shit because I was raised to view it as being a two-faced asshole, not as being polite.

So here I am unable to stop thinking my partner's family is full of two-faced assholes, and there they are unable to stop thinking that I'm a rude, mouthy asshole.

SOCIOLOGY. Sociology about assholes.
posted by titus n. owl at 1:17 PM on October 30, 2011 [12 favorites]


I just love that Jefferson called us a "cloacina". Now that's a word that needs to come back into common usage.
posted by fungible at 1:19 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've been here all my life, with maybe a few weeks here or there outside New York. I am really not a fan of transplants in general, the few transplant friends I have are a little wary of my native friends, a motley assortment of blue collar types and unemployable losers. I've got one friend from Montana that has taken to showing me off to his other transplant friends, I don't think any of them know any native New Yorkers. It is kind of fun when hipster girls are absolutely fascinated when I tell them I went to public school in Brooklyn and have been to actual social clubs, just like in A Bronx Tale (never mind the fact I was like 5).


That is not what I came to say though. Transpants! Get your shit together. I live pretty close to Columbia so I see some of you every day. When you are walking down the street please walk in a strait line so I can get around you. None of this angle walking crap.

Be prepared! I see you go to the salad guy and this is how you order "ummmmm...... Lemme get....ummmmm..., sprouts?" Are you really deciding the on the spot? There are 10 people waiting. Why are you asking a question, you see the sprouts right there, do you think the guy is going to say no? You also speak too low, causing the guy behind the counter to make you repeat it 5 times.

You should have your card or money out before you get to the cashier. Why do you have to make me wait while you dig through a bag, then a wallet, then a little change holder. You know how much a salad is, have that money ready so we aren't all waiting while you dig through your crap. Transplant men, why are you carrying your money in a Velcro wallet like a rube, get a money clip.

Don't ask people you don't know personal questions, I guess that is considered polite where you are from but if I wanted you to know my life story I would tell you. Enough of this what do you do, where are you from crap. When you are at a bar full of natives the only acceptable topics of conversation are the Yankees and how much money you won/lost the last time you went to Atlantic City. Nobody wants to be interrogated.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:20 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


ComfySofa: I find this image New Yorkers like to project of themselves as the rudest baddest people on earth to be amusing.

I don't think it's the New Yorkers who try to perpetuate that idea of themselves; I think it comes from the types of visitors who flat-out don't get the culture there, and then return home and talk about how awful New Yorkers are.

(Man, it's always on Sunday mornings that I miss New York the most. Can't get a decent bagel in Chicago for shit, and The New York Times Sunday edition that's delivered nationwide is *not* the full Sunday paper. You could kill a man with the Sunday Times with a strong swing and good aim. That's not the Sunday morning I grew up with.)
posted by tzikeh at 1:30 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Serious question: what is [a stoop] called elsewhere?

“steps” or “porch” here in the PNW. “Stoop” is a rarer usage but not completely unheard.
posted by hattifattener at 1:36 PM on October 30, 2011


When I was a grumpy, self-absorbed, hateful teenager growing up in New Orleans, I'd go downtown and basically act like a New Yorker. Bitch at clots of tourists for standing in the middle of the sidewalk, muscle my way right through the middle of them because I HAD SOMEWHERE TO BE DAMNIT and there are RULES and they DON'T KNOW THEM.

Then I moved to Los Angeles. To Boston. And to Seattle. And every time I moved, there were new rules to learn. And new pretty things to look at.

Nowadays I live in Seattle's University District, which is routinely pretty full of people with places to go, and people taking their time. When I'm in a rush, I can jet through the crowd pretty well. But I don't curse people under my breath for being slow. I don't snarl at the people walking on "the wrong side". I think this is largely due to my having grown up, been places where I just didn't Know The Rules, and learning some sympathy in general.

Of course also NYC is super dense and kinda doesn't have ROOM to be chill about these sorts of things, if my experience in similarly old and eastcoasty Boston is any guide. People in Boston's cramped, labyrinthine streets were a lot more generally dickish than folks out West.

But every lengthy, self-absorbed rant about how there are WAYS TO USE THE SIDEWALK YOU FUCKING TOURIST that I've ever seen has come from a New Yorker. I think that if you're predisposed to be a misanthropic asshole, NYC is going to turn that up to 11 in you because there are so damn many people packed so tightly together.

(I also wonder how many of the OUT OF MY WAY FUCKING TOURIST NEW YORKER COMING THROUGH types are natives who have never actually lived anywhere else...)
posted by egypturnash at 1:37 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is kind of fun when hipster girls are absolutely fascinated when I tell them I went to public school in Brooklyn and have been to actual social clubs, just like in A Bronx Tale (never mind the fact I was like 5).

Holy shit. I just remembered that I spent Halloween 1994 at a party in an Italian social club because I was friends with the landlady's granddaughter (my family being Jewish immigrants from Russia). I had totally forgotten it up until this moment.
posted by griphus at 1:39 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


And then on preview Ad Homenim kinda answers my parenthetical question. Thanks!
posted by egypturnash at 1:40 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


This isn't a New York thing. It's a big, international city thing.
posted by i_cola at 1:44 PM on October 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


Interrupting and overtalking

THIS. It annoys the hell out of my English SO and it's the dominant distinctive feature in NYC speech, way more then the fast-talking, cause it is well understood that any conversation going on in public is public property and can be commandeered by any member of the public. The conversation is about trains or the best place to find X, the locals are required to but in and offer an opinion.
posted by The Whelk at 1:44 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy shit. I just remembered that I spent Halloween 1994 at a party in an Italian social club because I was friends with the landlady's granddaughter (my family being Jewish immigrants from Russia

Everybody had birthday parties at Social Clubs when I was a kid, then they started closing because rents were too high. They always had a 6 foot hero half Italian half American. For desert you had Spumoni or Tortoni or if you were really lucky they had Tarufo.

And then on preview Ad Homenim kinda answers my parenthetical question. Thanks

I have nothing against tourists, I have something against people who move here and still act like morons.

Must be nice to be so worldly, most of us can only work and die. Have fun with your globetrotting.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:03 PM on October 30, 2011


Ok, can we talk about what complete assholes Boston drivers are?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:33 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I moved away from NYC a few years ago, but I used to buy groceries on credit at my bodega when i forgot my wallet. Not on a credit card--on CREDIT, as though I were in Mayberry. For this reason and others, I <3 NY.
posted by Zerowensboring at 2:40 PM on October 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


clean up the pile of slop that you left behind because I'm using the table after you and you're expected to self-bus, but you probably don't know that

Wait a sec here; you have to clear your own table? Where, like at a restaurant?
posted by Hoopo at 2:56 PM on October 30, 2011


> it's a huge hassle that simply wouldn't exist if you'd just shut the fuck up for half a second.

Nah, you just interrupt and set me straight. tourist
posted by Quietgal at 3:33 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


This isn't a New York thing. It's a big, international city thing.

No no no no no these things only happen in New York don't you understand? People might be fast and rude in places like Sydney, London and...god, I dunno, Cairo or one of those other quaint little towns in India or Mexico, but they're not as fast or as rude.
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:36 PM on October 30, 2011


(I also wonder how many of the OUT OF MY WAY FUCKING TOURIST NEW YORKER COMING THROUGH types are natives who have never actually lived anywhere else...)

I'm such a native* and I live at the intersection of lost-Europeans-looking-at-map and NYU-parents-trying-to-find-their-kid's-dorm. I probably give someone directions every third time I go outside. I think the type-A NYers who barrel angrily through groups of lollygagging pedestrians are probably people who moved to NYC to be the best at whatever they do – those of us born here are actually not that un-like people from anywhere else who never left their hometown.

* well, I lived in Philadelphia for a couple of years after college, but Philly's basically Brooklyn-lite
posted by nicwolff at 3:40 PM on October 30, 2011


In only two cities in the world have complete strangers ever stopped me on the street to comment on how adorable my daughter is: Rome, and New York. And New York was overall the friendlier.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:55 PM on October 30, 2011


This thread again? Its semi-annual recurrence helps me to remember New Yorkers as some of the world's great complainers, as though it was the only place in the world where some asshole got in your way.
posted by Kwine at 4:04 PM on October 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ad homenim > Must be nice to be so worldly, most of us can only work and die. Have fun with your globetrotting.

All my moves were pretty much on a shoestring. I lived hand-to-mouth in LA, I ended up with friends in Boston because I'd moved back home to New Orleans just in time for Katrina to trash all my possessions and make my mom move into a too-small-for-her-and-me apartment on the edge of town. Moving me and my two boyfriends and all the crap we cared to ship from Boston to Seattle was maybe $4k total? We ended up in a group house with people who drove me crazy and I broke up in the process of leaving. Admittedly I lucked out and inherited a house to rent out a couple years ago, thus paying most of my rent. Which has lowered my ambient stress levels pretty much to nothing.

But if you wanted to move out of NYC, it's easier than you might think to sell or dispose of all your stuff and start fresh in another city. Get some new perspective on the world, be the awkward out-of-towner for a while. And yeah, it's fun.
posted by egypturnash at 4:21 PM on October 30, 2011


This thread again?

When something's good, we stick with it.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:23 PM on October 30, 2011


As a native southerner who has always been in trouble for blurting out what is in my brain, I very much appreciate & prefer the direct & honest style of NY'ers. I find it a confidence builder & respectful, & a common understanding of the human condition in general.

Better to know the real deal than the undermining "bless her heart" camouflage of backhanded insult so prevalent in the south.
posted by yoga at 4:29 PM on October 30, 2011


Hmmm. Not much discussion on the point of the article, which is that New Yorkers have been loud and fast-talking and irritating outsiders since before the Revolution. I wasn't pointing a finger here, just noting that it's historical.
posted by exphysicist345 at 4:33 PM on October 30, 2011


Want to see a New Yorker look slow? Drop 'em in London and tell them to take the subway.
posted by davejay at 4:42 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a native southerner who has always been in trouble for blurting out what is in my brain, I very much appreciate & prefer the direct & honest style of NY'ers. I find it a confidence builder & respectful, & a common understanding of the human condition in general.

You don't actually have to say out loud everything that pops into your head, you know.

And if you grew up in the South, you probably already know that the New York style is the opposite of respectful.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 4:49 PM on October 30, 2011


I'm sure it's been said above, and this is friendly advice, not kvetching outrage, but just please, please do not stop on the stairs heading down to the subway station because you realize all of a sudden you're about to lose cell phone service. End your call before you start down the stairs (or finish your text, or whatever). (And don't stop right at the top of the steps either.)

And with yesterday's precipitation I was reminded all over again of the many ways people can be assholes about keeping their umbrellas open until they are inside the station, meaning that everyone behind you needs to wait while you close it at the bottom of the stairs (or open it on your way up). It's just fucking rain. You can stand a few drops hitting your expensive haircut, really, by closing your umbrella before you start down the stairs, or opening it at the top. And this way you won't drip all over the people all around you who have already closed theirs, or poke out the eyes of people coming the other way up the stairs with your 5 foot diameter golf umbrella. Douchebag.

Sorry, got carried away.
posted by spitbull at 5:09 PM on October 30, 2011


Hahahahaa, no, seriously, fuck New York. I rarely get a chance to overfly that corrupt, festering hellhole but both times that I have, I've made it a point to hit the head and drop a deuce. So yeah. I shit on you, New York, I shit on you from a great height.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:56 PM on October 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think planes work that way any longer.
posted by whir at 6:11 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


One can always dream.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:16 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, because if there's something New Yorkers are fazed by, it's human waste on their streets. *eyeroll*
posted by Sys Rq at 8:16 PM on October 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


But if you wanted to move out of NYC, it's easier than you might think to sell or dispose of all your stuff...

...to buy that car you need.
posted by griphus at 8:18 PM on October 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


"frequently not saying what they mean."

They're totally saying what they mean, they're just using a language you're not getting.


This, a million times this.

I've heard non-Americans complain that Americans are disingenuous because of all of the "alright, buddy, have a nice day" talk. (You don't really consider me your buddy! You don't really care if I have a nice day or not!) Spend a bit of time in the U.S. and you realize that that sort of talk means something slightly different than just the sum of its parts.

The same is true for all the seeming circumlocution that goes on in many parts of the country outside of the urban northeast. The meaning's pretty clear to those who are used to that kind of talk.
posted by DLWM at 8:24 PM on October 30, 2011


But every lengthy, self-absorbed rant about how there are WAYS TO USE THE SIDEWALK YOU FUCKING TOURIST that I've ever seen has come from a New Yorker. I think that if you're predisposed to be a misanthropic asshole, NYC is going to turn that up to 11 in you because there are so damn many people packed so tightly together.

Well, in my opinion a self-absorbed thing to do is travel to a city, then fail to observe some minor, easily-followed local rules of etiquette, and as a result inconvenience the people who actually live there. Truly urban areas are pretty rare in the U.S. so it's reasonable for visitors to ascribe a certain theme parkiness to the experience, but that doesn't change the fact that it's rude to be oblivious of your surroundings. Tourists who clearly make an effort to be in the city, and not just treat it as the backdrop to their I <3 NY photo album experience, generally get treated with respect.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 8:40 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Note to non-NYers: whenever anybody in NYC calls you "pal" (as is "Sorry, pal"), it's their way of saying you are really screwed. Really, really screwed.
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 9:01 PM on October 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are only two types of people: those that see an escalator as a convenience that allows them to progress without effort, and those that see an escalator as mechanical assistance that allows them to progress faster.

Maybe it was because we had limited time to explore and didn't venture outside of Manhattan, but every single one of my "rude New Yorker" preconceptions was shattered.

Ok, that's just rude.
posted by eddydamascene at 9:23 PM on October 30, 2011


New Yorkers as some of the world's great complainers,

WE'RE NUMBER ONE! WOOOOO!
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:21 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please tag a warning when posting images of Donald Trump's hair creature. I need to take the morning off now to recover my composure.
posted by falcon at 4:41 AM on October 31, 2011


I had a Prius with NY plates try to pass me on the gravel shoulder while I was going 55 in a 45. The guy gave up, then passed me on the right anyway, giving me the finger, then passed the car ahead of us on a curve, almost colliding with oncoming traffic. My girlfriend assured me that that sort of stuff goes on all the time in New York.

This is a great summary of my experiences driving on Long Island.
posted by pemberkins at 5:51 AM on October 31, 2011


I have to throw my voice behind being pretty confused by the upper-midwest polite-at-all-costs philosophy... and I realize some of it is the (very well put) ask vs guess... but when you actually have no preference with something, there's no (polite) way to say "No no, I understand that you're used to equivocation as my way of out-politing you to get what I want ... I just genuinely do. not. care about whether the bow is red or green.

Also, admittedly, German upbringing taught me to be a bit more direct. "How many yogurts will you eat this week" was not a coded "how dare you sleep over here" to my girlfriends, no matter how hard I tried to explain... m'dad just wanted to know how many yogurts to buy at the grocery so that he still had one a day...
posted by Seeba at 7:33 AM on October 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


nertz. forgot the close-quotations.
posted by Seeba at 7:33 AM on October 31, 2011


The way to say you have no preference is to mention the thing without giving any options. This leads to inane statements like "Christmas is coming."
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:51 AM on October 31, 2011


If someone doesn't fucking immediately make an image macro of Robert Baratheon dressed as santa with "Christmas is Coming" written under it, you should all feel very ashamed of yourselves.
posted by griphus at 11:14 AM on October 31, 2011


(I will also take Tyrion Lannister dressed as an elf.)
posted by griphus at 11:15 AM on October 31, 2011


And Cersei dressed as Mrs. Claus.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:42 PM on October 31, 2011


A sexy Mrs. Claus. And also, not the actress that plays her on the TV miniseries, but my imaginary version of her, which is a blonde Morena Baccarin.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:45 PM on October 31, 2011


There are only two types of people: those that see an escalator as a convenience that allows them to progress without effort, and those that see an escalator as mechanical assistance that allows them to progress faster.
You're forgettin the kind that get to the end of the escalator and stop rather than either proceeding or stepping to the side...
posted by Karmakaze at 3:07 PM on October 31, 2011


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