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Urban Etiquette
June 22, 2006 8:05 AM   Subscribe

Urban Etiquette : Confused about when to answer your cellphone? Not sure when to take off your iPod? Baffled as to what to say to that guy you saw in that movie with that chick when you see him on the street? Worry no more. In too much of a hurry to read this long article from New York Magazine? This short guide has you covered. Here are a few more New York specific examples. When all else fails, ask Mr. Social Grace. [more inside]
posted by grapefruitmoon (52 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
James Burnett of the Miami Herald has an interesting blog on the subject : Burnett's Urban Etiquette featuring entries on underpants and airplane etiquette.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:06 AM on June 22, 2006


Q. Confused about when to answer your cellphone?
A. No. Answer it almost never and only when you feel like it.

Q. Not sure when to take off your iPod?
A. No. Take it off when you need to hear things.

Q. Baffled as to what to say to that guy you saw in that movie with that chick when you see him on the street?
A. No. Say nothing.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:30 AM on June 22, 2006


I like all the time-saving options in this post.
posted by meh at 8:32 AM on June 22, 2006


Is it ever acceptable to talk to a stranger on an elevator?

They say no as if that's the final word. I agree if the other person is not looking at you. But if there's sustained eye contact and a hint or more of a smile, go for it. If you want to. And you have something worth saying.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:50 AM on June 22, 2006


I disagree with the emphasis in the advice on exact change. The guide seems to imply that taking time to look for exact change is itself rude. But really, what is rude is hunting for inconveniently located exact change. If you have to hunt at the bottom of a cluttered purse or book-bag, that is bad. If you just have to open your change purse, that is perfectly acceptable. Yes it delays everyone behind you just a bit but, frankly, being polite and patient goes both way.
posted by oddman at 8:57 AM on June 22, 2006


I strive to change my behavior to conform to the New York Magazine's perceptions of what I should be doing.

No raking women with your eyes; glance quickly and respectfully.

I love incredibly subjective standards. Sorry I had to go to these ballroom/etiquette classes against my will younger and harbor hatred from being traumitized in my formative years.
posted by geoff. at 8:59 AM on June 22, 2006


Can someone draw me a picture to illustrate what the hell they mean by this: "Baffled as to what to say to that guy you saw in that movie with that chick when you see him on the street?"
posted by feloniousmonk at 8:59 AM on June 22, 2006


I wouldn't start up a random conversation on the elevator, but I consider the occasional "4, please" and "thanks" not to be too over the line.
posted by graventy at 9:02 AM on June 22, 2006


feloniousmonk, you know that one guy who was in that movie with that chick? What do you say to him when you see him on the street?
posted by Floydd at 9:12 AM on June 22, 2006


"Dude, you're that guy from that movie with the chick!"
posted by NationalKato at 9:24 AM on June 22, 2006


But wait...did you go to that movie with that chick, or was that chick in the movie with that guy? Damn you, New York Magazine...
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 9:29 AM on June 22, 2006


Thanks for the clarification, I for some reason thought it had something to do with going to see a movie. I was thinking it was an overly clever way of saying "how do you hit on someone else's date?"
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:34 AM on June 22, 2006


Next up: New York Magazine's guide to filling up space in a magazine month after goddamn month.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:58 AM on June 22, 2006


From the askmen.com link:

Don't pay for a cheeseburger & fries with a debit/credit card? Why the hell not? These days, doing this is usually way faster (and more sanitary) than dealing with cash and waiting for change, especially now that a lot of places don't require a PIN or signature for small amounts.

Tip beforehand? Uh, no. A tip is a recognition of services rendered, and should be given at the (satisfactory) completion of service. You don't tip a waiter when you're seated, do you?
posted by dvdgee at 10:14 AM on June 22, 2006


Don't stand too close to others at the ATM. Give them personal space. If you don't, they'll think you're up to something.

Is anyone, especially anyone in New York City, this utterly clueless? My sense is that if you don't give someone "personal space" there, whether at an ATM or anywhere else, you'll find out relatively quickly (and loudly) that you're out of bounds.
posted by blucevalo at 10:20 AM on June 22, 2006


If and when i ever run into a famous person in a public place i think i'm going to pull out my best woody allen impression and say over and over again.

"Oh my god, you're in movies, wow, i can't believe im here talking to a movie star, i mean you're in movies, you make movies... wow, i'm going to have to tell everyone i know, tell them all, that today i met a movie star, i mean wow, you make dreams, you make movies."

until it is blatantly clear that i am just being a sarcastic ass at which point i will walk away.

of course this doesn't apply to celebrities that i like and or want to make babies with.
posted by sourbrew at 10:26 AM on June 22, 2006


I like the subway guide, except for the pregnant lady thing. I know it makes me a rotten person but, I did not get you pregnant, I don't approve of you having children, your children will spend the next twenty years driving me crazy while you do nothing about it, and after you have a few, you will let them take up the entire bench while I am trying to carry many heavy things and have a cast on. So no, you cannot have my seat.
posted by dame at 10:31 AM on June 22, 2006


Recently, I stayed with a friend in Portland, and was blown away by how everyone there actually made an effort to be nice to each other. It was actually kinda disconcerting. However, by the end of the visit, I felt myself catching it a little bit.

We may not have that in NYC, but we do have urban etiquette, which is just and important if a bit more subtle. Unfortunately, its something that we only tend to notice when someone is lacking in it.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:32 AM on June 22, 2006


One i didn't see; If you need to take a mobile phone call, keep your damn voice down. There is no need to scream. On a related note, if your mobile has a speaker phone option, don't use it in public.

i don't want to hear your fucking conversation. Leave the restaurant, tell them you will call them back when you get off the elevator, why the hell are you using a bluetooth headset while you are holding the damn phone in your hand, speaking louder into the phone is not going to improve your reception, you don't need to listen to you whole oh-so-clever ringtone before you answer it, use some basic. common. sense.

/panting

Whew, i feel better.
posted by quin at 10:37 AM on June 22, 2006


One i didn't see; If you need to take a mobile phone call, keep your damn voice down. There is no need to scream. On a related note, if your mobile has a speaker phone option, don't use it in public.

i don't want to hear your fucking conversation.


Preach it! Well said, quin.
posted by blucevalo at 10:40 AM on June 22, 2006


Ugh, Afroblanco. One of the liberating things about New York, to me, is not having to be nice to people. And not having people invade my psychic space under the auspices of niceness.
posted by dame at 10:45 AM on June 22, 2006


Manners, etiquette, laws and mores exist because other people are wankers.

dame nothing rotten there, silly cow wants to dress that way then what did she expect, of course she'd get raped. If she insists on keeping it, well that's hardly my problem, clearly a religious nutter. Of course the disabled are the same. Frankly when some crushed up cripple freak clambers, calipers and crutches all over the shop, into the carriage, then tries to make me feel I should give up my seat, well I tell them in a clear polite yet forthright manner: fuck off wanker it's not like I left you bleeding by the side of the road is it? Mannerless toads the lot I should say. Please don't get me started on the bloody blind bastards, waiting to cross an intersection..
posted by econous at 11:01 AM on June 22, 2006


except for the pregnant lady thing. I know it makes me a rotten person but, I did not get you pregnant, I don't approve of you having children ...

Dame, I think that mostly applies to guys, to avoid being a cad, even if we agree with you. It's probably in the bible, as the tradeoff for not having to bare children or somesuch. I think other women don't necessarily have to give up their seat.

(on preview: Econus, that's some subtle sarcasm. You practice?)
posted by milovoo at 11:12 AM on June 22, 2006


Great article, and it didn't take itself too seriously, which was nice. It is good to have these reminders every so often to check our own behavior.

My latest cell phone pet peeve: those walkie talkie phones that make those beeping sounds in between the (very loud) dialogue that the two (probably teenaged) people are having. Irritating!
posted by witchstone at 11:18 AM on June 22, 2006


One of the liberating things about New York, to me, is not having to be nice to people. And not having people invade my psychic space under the auspices of niceness.

Also, I totally agree with this. When I visit the midwest it really grates to have people sticking their nose right up in your face and asking personal questions, that really, and let's just admit this, they don't care about and no business asking. If you're absolutely convinced that the waitress at Bob Evans who's been on her feet all dayreally wants to know how my day was and what book I'm reading and where I've just driven in from, and how my mom is doing, you're obviously deluded. New Yorkers realize that both your and their time is valuable and interactions are kept brief as a sign of mutual respect.
posted by milovoo at 11:21 AM on June 22, 2006


One of the liberating things about New York, to me, is not having to be nice to people. And not having people invade my psychic space under the auspices of niceness

I know what you mean. I spent about half my life in the midwest, where what is mistakenly percieved by outsiders to be "friendliness" is actually thinly-veiled nosiness. (The stereotypical question St. Louisans ask you upon meeting is, "Where did you go to highschool?")

However, I got the feeling that the people in Portland were just genuinely being nice. It was more of a vibe then anything else. However, I was only there for a few days, so its possible that I was wrong.

My latest cell phone pet peeve: those walkie talkie phones that make those beeping sounds in between the (very loud) dialogue that the two (probably teenaged) people are having.

Agreed. What is most offensive about walkie-talkie phones is how in-your-face they are. I think that the whole idea is that you're supposed to notice them doing it. You're supposed to think, "Wow, they're cool! They're obviously some busy important person with a really active social life. I so want to be like them." They're making all that noise on purpose. In other words, walkie-talkie phones exist to defeat etiquette.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:33 AM on June 22, 2006


New Yorkers realize that both your and their time is valuable and interactions are kept brief as a sign of mutual respect.

Brief, or non-existent, even when you're getting the holy shit beaten out of you in the East Village, as Kevin Aviance with his jaw wired shut can attest.
posted by blucevalo at 11:34 AM on June 22, 2006


Huh, that's funny econous. They know what causes pregnancy now and how to avoid it. Maybe you should at least try to have a vaguely plausible hyperbole connuption next time?
posted by dame at 11:50 AM on June 22, 2006


In related news: New York Ranked As The Politest City
posted by bashos_frog at 11:50 AM on June 22, 2006


New Yorkers realize that both your and their time is valuable and interactions are kept brief as a sign of mutual respect.

Brief, or non-existent, even when you're getting the holy shit beaten out of you in the East Village, as Kevin Aviance with his jaw wired shut can attest.


Huh? Yes, of course there's crime ... bad crime sometimes. You get that where you are?

I thought we were talking about standard social interactions.

What are you even saying??
posted by milovoo at 11:55 AM on June 22, 2006


Apart from the reason why it's wired shut, I'm not complaining that Kevin Aviance's jaw is wired shut.
posted by Captaintripps at 12:53 PM on June 22, 2006


How do you respond to an online personal message from someone whose picture you don’t like?

If you’ve established an e-mail connection before seeing the other person’s photo, which then reveals a mullet or other disturbing feature, you must suffer the consequences of jumping the gun. Set up a very brief coffee date and hope that the person doesn’t photograph well.


No. Shut up. You're fired. In this (worthless) article about how rude it is to waste other people's time written in a magazine whose readership should already be aware of these things by way of living in said city, why advise your reader to waste the time of the people involved in this scenario? If you can't take rejection from someone you've only e-mailed with, how are you going to take real rejection?
posted by ninjew at 1:28 PM on June 22, 2006


Good point, milovoo. I shot off my mouth before thinking. I stand corrected.
posted by blucevalo at 1:33 PM on June 22, 2006


I apologize, New Yorkers ..... I put my foot in it more often than I'd like, and this was one of those times. I don't know what I was thinking. The hot sun on the left coast has addled my already not-all-that-crisp brain.
posted by blucevalo at 1:40 PM on June 22, 2006


In this picture, #3 is apparently enjoying a 'bump'.

Is it okay to smoke pot at a party?
Marijuana is considered by most New Yorkers under a certain age (and over a certain age) to be harmless at the least, and at the most a public good that belongs equally to all people, like radio airwaves and the national parks. Nonetheless, it is always imperative to ask the host before lighting up any sort of THC delivery system, and consumption is always forbidden if there are children or teenagers present, or if anyone in the room is 30 years older than someone else in the room.


But doing a line in front of a kid under 10 is clearly ok with everyone at this gathering. I don't give a shit about drugs, I just feel the need to point out how 100% moronic this article is.
posted by ninjew at 1:47 PM on June 22, 2006


When I first moved to DC from NYC I wanted to stencil the sidewalk with something akin to their walking instructions. Civic improvement.
posted by exogenous at 1:52 PM on June 22, 2006


Blucevalo: What, you live on the West Coast and you're NOT a (former) New Yorker? I didn't know that was possible. ;)
posted by Kloryne at 1:53 PM on June 22, 2006


No way, the TMN link is wrong already:

Look for holes in the wave of those walking up the stairs and try to enter without disturbing the flow of human passage. Be hardy: despite whatever stress may come from trying to reach the subway platform, do not, under any circumstances, act upon your frustration – by groaning, rolling your eyes, standing still in contempt, etc. – you will only pain yourself in the face of an uncaring mob.

Number one: when walking down stairs, don't look for holes or weave. Pick a side (the right, if you want to be super correct) and walk straight down. Everyone else in your way is wrong. They have to make a channel somewhere. Also, huffing & rolling your eyes makes people move. Mostly.
posted by dame at 1:59 PM on June 22, 2006


Love the visual aids, but I was surprised (and a tad crestfallen) to see they were photomontages. Surely all those people committing all those unpardonables could have been found on any random 1 train!

Also missed seeing my favorite no-no addressed:

After paying busfare, move to the rear. Use the back exit; the front door is for people boarding the bus.
posted by rob511 at 4:14 PM on June 22, 2006


This makes me glad I don't live in a big city.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:27 PM on June 22, 2006


David Cross: Don't talk to me unless you're a hot chick and or you come bearing free beer.
posted by cell divide at 5:13 PM on June 22, 2006


That goes for me as well.
posted by fleacircus at 5:32 PM on June 22, 2006


They know what causes pregnancy now and how to avoid it.

Well, your mom obviously did not. That stupid breeder bitch..
posted by c13 at 7:20 PM on June 22, 2006


c13 if you insisit on posting on this forum despite advice, would you do everyone a favour and be polite. Unless you are from the cunt-try-cide in which case just be nice.
posted by econous at 7:45 PM on June 22, 2006


Gotta agree with the escalator bit. Walk left, stand right. It drives me crazy when people stand on the left side, meanwhile the metro line I need is ten seconds away from pulling out of the station.

I also found one of the most enjoyable things about living on the east coast to be how intensely private everyone is. When I went to the convenience store, I didn't have to chat with the cashier about the weather. Here in Texas, every goon behind you in a line wants to tell you their life story.
posted by ryokoblue at 7:49 PM on June 22, 2006


What exactly do you find impolite, econous?
posted by c13 at 8:00 PM on June 22, 2006


Look for holes in the wave of those walking up the stairs and try to enter without disturbing the flow of human passage. Be hardy: despite whatever stress may come from trying to reach the subway platform, do not, under any circumstances, act upon your frustration – by groaning, rolling your eyes, standing still in contempt, etc. – you will only pain yourself in the face of an uncaring mob.

I've found that firing a few gunshots into the air does wonders for clearing a path.
posted by nlindstrom at 10:05 PM on June 22, 2006


c13 standing on the left side of the escalator, not getting it up for a pregnant women, people picking their nose. So many things..
posted by econous at 10:14 PM on June 22, 2006


Yeah, that would be it... 'Xcept that we don't have no escalators down here. Shit, we don't ride the trains like some god damned hobos down here. We got S. U Vees.
posted by c13 at 10:37 PM on June 22, 2006


I strive to change my behavior to conform to the New York Magazine's perceptions of what I should be doing.

I did for a while too but those $600 pre-shredded pants that fell apart after four washings were starting to fuck up my finances.
posted by jason's_planet at 10:44 PM on June 22, 2006


From The Morning News' guide:

There is nothing more aggravating than a percussion performer on the subway platform, especially one that uses plastic tubs as drums. Do not offer money or encouragement to this person; save it for the violinist, the guitar player, or the mime.

I know exactly which performer, and exactly which platform, they're talking about.

One item that should have been mentioned but wasn't:

Male subway passengers should refrain from opening their legs to ridiculously wide angles, thus impinging on the "airspace" in front of adjacent seats.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 10:57 PM on June 22, 2006


When ordering at the counter, place your order in a clear tone; this will ensure the proper construction of your meal, assuming the cook is focused and in a decent mood.

I had repeated problems with a deli guy who kept putting mustard on my sandwiches and leaving off the cheese. Finally I realized it was because I was saying "Muenster" and he wasn't hearing it clearly. My bad.

Digression: Later I stopped going to that deli (Just Delicious, on Varick Street just north of Houston) when I pointed out to the same worker that there was a small roach crawling between trays of sandwich fixings in the deli case. He reached in and grabbed the bug with his gloved hand, crushed it between his fingers, tossed it in a trash can, then went back to making food without putting on a new glove.

I'm sure this kind of thing happens all the time in many restaurants, but if you're going to be stupid enough to let me see you do it, you've lost my business.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:03 PM on June 22, 2006


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