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New Yorkers and their quirks
May 20, 2008 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Why do New Yorkers seem rude? A quirky and interesting article about the culture of New Yorkers.
posted by SeizeTheDay (163 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm confused by this. Why do New Yorkers seem rude? I will answer you by explaining how helpful everyone in New York is.

Wait what?
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:12 AM on May 20, 2008


New Yorkers often seem rude to non-New Yorkers because they appear to be obsessed not only with themselves, but also with how awesome they are for being New Yorkers-- and non-New Yorkers can't possibly understand how awesome and superior they are for being New Yorkers.

The linked essay is an excellent example of this phenomenon.
posted by dersins at 10:16 AM on May 20, 2008 [24 favorites]


In my experience, many people believe that New Yorkers are smarter than other Americans....

FIRST SENTENCE FAIL
posted by DU at 10:17 AM on May 20, 2008 [13 favorites]


New Yorkers seem rude because they're waiting for you to get to the point. If someone approaches me and asks, which way is Times Square, I can answer the question and keep walking. If someone approaches me and says, hello! I was wondering if you could help, see I have this problem blah blah blah blah blah which way is Times Square, I'm gonna keep walking before he gets to the end of the question because he's not getting to the point and if he's not getting to the point, he probably wants more of my time than I'm able to give. If I gave as much of time to everyone out there who wanted it, I'd still be talking to that crazy guy on the bus from 3 months ago.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:17 AM on May 20, 2008 [15 favorites]


Because they are not as smart as other Americans?
posted by yhbc at 10:19 AM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


New Yorkers seem rude because they say and do things that would be considered rude most other places (but in their own culture are totally acceptable). This doesn't make them any more likable.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 10:23 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why do New Yorkers seem rude?

Because they are. An explanation is not an excuse.
posted by srboisvert at 10:23 AM on May 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


Another weird thing about some New Yorkers, after some time living here they start getting delusions that other New Yorkers care about them. Must be a psychological defense mechanism.
posted by pg at 10:25 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


New Yorkers do not seem rude to me. I'm from fucking London mate.
posted by Artw at 10:25 AM on May 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think all the crotch grabbing and expletives give people the wrong impression.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:25 AM on May 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


Also, FWIW, I'll take people who quietly ignore me or who are too the point over people who want to engage me in long winded pointless conversations any day of the week.
posted by Artw at 10:26 AM on May 20, 2008


Interesting timing.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:27 AM on May 20, 2008


The other day I was in the post office when a man in line in front of me ...

She's no New Yorker!
posted by Bookhouse at 10:28 AM on May 20, 2008 [9 favorites]


Another curious form of cooperation one sees in New York is the unspoken ban on staring at celebrities.

This matches my experience, though I don't know if it's specific to New York. I'd like to think its common decency and not a New York ThingTM though.

An odd article.
posted by Skorgu at 10:30 AM on May 20, 2008


Fuck you, we're as polite as anyone else.
posted by griphus at 10:30 AM on May 20, 2008 [8 favorites]


I think much of what the writer says has a ring of truth to it in an anthropological sense.

But as dersins touched on, I do get sick of the New Yorker attitude that "If I try x in New York that means it is automatically the best version of x anywhere in the entire world because everything in New York is superior because New Yorkers are smarter and superior to the rest of the world...People only live in other places because they aren't good enough to live in New York or because they're ignorant."

The food here is better though.
posted by gagglezoomer at 10:31 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Full disclosure: I grew up near New York, and I love it for what it is.

Those who miss these things enough will go back home. That means that the rest of us, statistically, are more high-strung, hungry and intent on long-term gains—traits that quite possibly correlate with intelligence.

Well, not quite - they also kind of correlate with anxiety and stress. At least some of those who miss those things enough will not leave, just drown their sorrows in depression meds, distraction, and other forms of self-medication, living in a sort of compromise between what they can have and enjoy here and what they miss from elsewhere. We wonder why people feel disconnected, lonely, and sad sometimes even in big cities; it's because of this compromise. There's a good side which she mentions, but a emotional/psychological downside to the quality-of-life sacrifices New Yorkers make, too.

It is said that New Yorkers are rude, but I think what people mean by that is that New Yorkers are more familiar.

She's absolutely right about this. I've never ever found New Yorkers, as a whole, to be rude - just the opposite. But if you're from another part of the country where the "smooth, shiny glaze" prevails, it seems abrasive to be so plainspoken, quick, and direct. The New York ethos is very upfront and genuine and quite accepting. Really saturated New Yorkers, when travelling, often fail to realize that their directness reads as rude to others. They don't 'pass the time' when asking a question or making a purchase, and they don't smile unecessarily. But from the perspective of a saturated New Yorker, when you travel and find yourself around people who aren't direct, who hold critical or questioning thoughts inside or let them slip out in sugar-coated and veiled ways, you feel a little creeped out by their restrained behavior. It seems Stepford-like.

And, let's be honest, certain individuals really are quite rude, but that's true of people everywhere if they feel entitled.

Anyway, the best part about New Yorkers is that anyone can be one. This isn't something genetic or something you have to be native-born to. You don't have to be rich (though it sure helps) or Northern or American or white. It's an ethos, not a pedigree. The city seems to infuse people with it culture. The points about how public it is are great - New York is home to some of the greatest public spaces and public amenities anywhere in the country.
posted by Miko at 10:32 AM on May 20, 2008 [13 favorites]


The other day I was in the post office when a man in line in front of me ...

She's no New Yorker!


I dunno - I think that might be an exception to the rule - saying someone was "in line" in front of you is different from saying "I was standing on line" or "do you have to wait on line to get in there?" Saying "a man on line in front of me" would sound weird even to my ears, and I grew up saying "on line."

Any other opinions on that one?
posted by Miko at 10:35 AM on May 20, 2008


Okay, for a real response: I just recently started working in a tourist-heavy area (right near the UN), coming from a not-so-heavy tourist area.

Going to work/coming back from work, having to walk fifteen minutes to the train, I can see myself as having been perceived as rude. There's all sorts of unspoken rules as far as walking down the streets goes (never, ever full-stop on the sidewalk during rush hour, etc.) and I honestly don't give a shit if you know them or not, and I expect you to follow them. Why? Because getting home faster > being polite to people that I, at that moment, believe should know better.

Now apply that to the grand scheme of things. It's not /overt/ rudeness (except sometimes. It's a subway stairwell, not a fucking Starbucks. Keep walking.)
posted by griphus at 10:38 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anybody seen Daytrippers?
It is a very good depiction of New Yorkers. We're blind to your existance until you make yourself seen. Then you're a brother, sister.
posted by Phantast at 10:41 AM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's a matter of what other people are accustomed to.
For them, New York isn't home. But they expect it to be.
People want the same treatment that they get back in their home state. When it doesn't happen they get confused, bitter and resentful.

When you move from a big city, just the opposite happens.

I lived in Minneapolis for a year.

The first night I got there some friends threw a party in my honor. It was a nice little martini party. One problem. We ran out of olives. There was a grocery store about a block away and I volunteered to go get the olives. Hey, I wanted to see the new neighborhood.

I was searching the aisles in the store for the olives but couldn't find them anywhere. I saw a stock boy refilling a shelf so I walked up to him.

"Hey. Where the olives". I ask him

His eyes got wide and he was stammering out an answer.
He looked like a deer in the headlights.

"Ooops" I think to myself "I'm in Minnesota not Chicago. Time to switch tactics"

I knew what I had to do

"Let's start over" I said to him
"How ya doin?

"Oh fine, just fine" He said
(I could see the fog of fear lifting from his eyes)

"Ya know what I'm lookin fer?"

"No sir what's that?"

"I'm lookin fer some olives. Would ya know where dem are?"

"Ohhhh olives. Having a party are ya?

"Ya sure ya betcha we are"

"I love a good party"

"Me too. Can't wait to get back"

"The olives are in aisle 4 right next to the lutefisk"

"Thank you very much"...........

"Enjoy yer party now"

"Thank you I will. Have a nice day now"

"Ya sure will!"

In Minneapolis, I allowed my time to be wasted to get what I wanted.
In New York City, you don't have what they want.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 10:41 AM on May 20, 2008 [42 favorites]


New Yorkers are perceived as being rude by the South. Then again, all of the North is perceived as being rude, it's just that New York has the greatest concentration of THEM, so it bears to the brunt of jokes/insults. Strangely enough, New York never pauses long enough to care.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:43 AM on May 20, 2008


I wasn't serious, Miko, (I still say "in line" myself), so you could be correct.

As to the article itself, as others have pointed out, New York simply has different standards than other parts of the country. Here we value not hassling people and letting them get on with their day. I prefer, overall, the chatty manners of my native Ozarks, but they belong there, not here.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:43 AM on May 20, 2008


Smile unnecessarily? Smiling is never necessary, its a simple human pleasure. As is passing the time, interacting casually with strangers, taking a bit of time to engage a bit more leisurely than a terse question/answer combination with no context.

Fellow humans aren't a burden, they are a gift. I think that mega-cities lose sight of that because too many people are packed into too small an area. Just like animals in zoos, it is unnatural and drives the inmates a little crazy.

Relax a bit, slow down. There is no finish line, you're not going to get there any faster.
posted by afflatus at 10:43 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Anyway, the best part about New Yorkers is that anyone can be one."

Curiously, that is also the worst part.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:44 AM on May 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


The food here is better though.

Some of the food is better.

Last year on a visit I picked out an Indian place that I was expecting to rock my socks because I used to the fare in Utah and, c'mon, chances are that the Indian food in New York has got to be better, right?

I don't know what the actual odds are, and I'd still be willing to bet there's some superior Indian food there, but I'm learning a little more respect for my hometown and the Indian cooks there (and to ask for recommendations before I pick places to eat in the city, because that seems to work out a lot better).
posted by weston at 10:45 AM on May 20, 2008


I suspect that with the South "freindly" can a lot of the time be the same thing as "hugely status conscious and massively passive agressive."
posted by Artw at 10:45 AM on May 20, 2008 [9 favorites]


never, ever full-stop on the sidewalk during rush hour, etc.)

Odd. I've only been to New York twice and even I know that, and both times I've gone I've been pissed off by the the other tourists who can't figure out that they should take their conversation to the side, or people who just stop dead in their tracks right in front of me. Thanks buddy.
Maybe it's just because I walk fast.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:46 AM on May 20, 2008


I had an interesting discussion a long time ago (back when New York was still New York i.e. pre-Giuliani) with a friend from Alabama who came to live in NYC. What we found was that southerners were much more polite - on the exterior, yet behind that smile sometimes hid contempt. The beautiful thing about a NYer is that you will always know exactly what they think of you. There is no pretense. If someone is nice to you in NYC more often than not they probably genuinely like you whereas in other parts of the country you can't be so sure. I like to know exactly what people think of me, it saves so much time.
posted by any major dude at 10:49 AM on May 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


I don't know about New Yorkers generally, but every time I see a call from the 212 area code I cringe because there's at least a 50/50 chance I'll be greeted with a string of profanity before I can even say hi.

...usually followed by the person shouting about how they're never wrong, they've been doing it this way for years, I & everyone like me are bastards for ruining the industry, et cetera, et cetera. Naturally, once they finally stop ranting and tell me why they've called, I invariably find out they're doing something catastrophically wrong.

Yeah, thanks. Really makes me want to help them fix their own damn mistakes.
posted by aramaic at 10:55 AM on May 20, 2008


I feel the need to generalize.






All the food in New York is rude.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:56 AM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't know. I live in Maine. New Yorkers seem fine to me, if a bit chatty.
posted by rusty at 10:58 AM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


What we found was that southerners were much more polite - on the exterior, yet behind that smile sometimes hid contempt.

You have a way with words, bless your heart.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:59 AM on May 20, 2008 [24 favorites]


Just remember that about 8 out of 10 people you run into on the streets during the week are actually not New Yorkers, and you begin to understand why people here seem rude.

I'm looking at you, New Jersey.
posted by JaredSeth at 11:00 AM on May 20, 2008 [7 favorites]


I grew up in Jersey and my family is from The City but I've lived in Western Pennsylvania (basically the eastern edge of the mid-west) for most of my adult life and just can't handle the rudeness of the NYC-NJ area anymore. Things like shopkeepers/cashiers that won't talk to you, drivers who honk their horns in non-emergencies, people who cut in line, people who talk about you while you can still hear them just drive me nuts. I just don't get it.
posted by octothorpe at 11:02 AM on May 20, 2008


okay, stop. this is such an undeserved stereotype and it's undeserved. when I left my cell phone in a cab the first day after moving there, a guy called my mom in germany to track me down and wouldn't even accept anything beyond a handshake in return. this was a passenger, not the cabbie. I took a massive gamble on a temporary place off craigslist and got handsomly rewarded. people went through massive lengths to explain the mta to me.

new yorkers are actually really fucking nice but it's the exception that proves the rule. you can find an asshole anywhere if you look hard enough and nyc's problem is that one is all people need to feel it to be universally true. I call that the fran drescher syndrome.
posted by krautland at 11:02 AM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Expanding on what Artw said (I'm from London), I think that New Yorkers have a reputation for rudeness because Midwesterners and Southerners are so insanely polite. New Yorkers, who are only fractionally less polite, seem rude to them.
posted by Mocata at 11:02 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


aisle 4 right next to the lutefisk

:)
posted by caddis at 11:03 AM on May 20, 2008


Some places, polite equals phony. Some places, polite equals behaving properly. There are funny places like South Florida where Southern-style "polite" mashes up against thousands of transplanted New Yorkers. The result is an odd sort of controlled bipolar chaos.
posted by SassHat at 11:04 AM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Any other opinions on that one?

I, having grown up on Long Island, had no idea that "on line" was a regional thing until I read it here a couple weeks ago, and I'd--probably--say that someone was "on line" ahead of me.

There's all sorts of unspoken rules as far as walking down the streets goes

I don't spend a whole lot of time in the city, let alone in the touristy bits, but last month I saw a Broadway show. Thankfully we walked up 8th from Penn and avoided the worst of it, but I don't think I've ever, ever seen so many yokels standing 10-deep on the corner, trying to figure out how to cross the street. If you're not prepared to jaywalk, get the hell out of the way. Is that rude?
posted by uncleozzy at 11:07 AM on May 20, 2008


Mocata: "Expanding on what Artw said (I'm from London), I think that New Yorkers have a reputation for rudeness because Midwesterners and Southerners are so insanely polite. New Yorkers, who are only fractionally less polite, seem rude to them."

So you're saying that New Yorkers just seem rude because they're not polite?
posted by octothorpe at 11:08 AM on May 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


New Yorkers seem rude because they don't tolerate rudeness from other people.

If someone, not from new york, is standing in front of the door to a busy subway car when people are trying to get off said subway car, SOMEONE will roughly shoulder them out of the way. Why? Because you don't block the god damn doors. Now, perhaps the more polite way to handle that situation is to gently take them aside and explain this to them, but nobody has the time for that, since it happens all the time. You have to learn the rules here. that's just sort of the deal.

To take an example from the article, where the author says that someone will correct you if they think you're engaging in bad parenting. I don't know what she's talking about. Maybe if they see you whaling on your kid in public or some shit. But most people leave the bad parents alone, because it's not our business, and we know that if we were rude enough to actually tell a bad parent how to raise their kids, we'd get an ear full from the parent - letting us know just exactly how little he or she cares what we consider good or bad parenting. It's not rude to tell someone to mind their own business if they're not minding their own business.

The problem is that when you live in a city that's as crowded as this one, and as diverse, the principal rule is: don't invade other people's boundaries. don't stick your nose in someone else's business and don't get in their way. don't look for special treatment and don't try to tell someone else how to live. when people come here from out of town, they don't understand that they act as if everyone else should conform to their expectations, so when someone refuses to they get all in a huff.
posted by shmegegge at 11:13 AM on May 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


New Yorkers are rude for the same reason that Parisians are rude. Because you're standing in front of the entrance to the subway at rush hour taking photos, you twit. Your tourist experience is also someone's backyard, front yard, commute, bedroom, office.

(Situation reversed in Times Square, where the Tourist Hordes rule the streets like a big fleshy mob.)
posted by desuetude at 11:13 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've met quite a few "rude New Yorkers" in my time, but only outside of New York - and nearly all of them were from Staten Island or some other suburb. I get the feeling they were trying to "represent." When I finally went to New York City, I was amazed at how friendly everyone was. Really nice people. I couldn't bring myself to go to Staten Island, though.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:13 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't know about New Yorkers generally, but every time I see a call from the 212 area code I cringe because there's at least a 50/50 chance I'll be greeted with a string of profanity before I can even say hi.

who on earth is calling you? are you getting telemarketers whose opening script line is "shit fuck bitch ass, hell may I speak to the head of the household, please?"
posted by shmegegge at 11:14 AM on May 20, 2008 [9 favorites]


shit fuck bitch ass, hell may I speak to the head of the household, please?

It's the "please" that keeps that from being rude.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:18 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


New Yorkers are rude for the same reason that Parisians are rude.

Well, Parisians are also French.
posted by Artw at 11:18 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


So you're saying that New Yorkers just seem rude because they're not polite?

Goodness gracious, you got a tongue on you!

New Yorkers (and the North) are polite, they just have different priorities. Southerners tend to live in smaller towns, where they interact with many of the same people repeatedly and exclusively. Northerners tend to have a small core group they deal with regularly, while dealing with the 8 million other people in the city on any given day, so they tend to focus on just their core group 'cause there's only such much time and energy they have and they'd rather save that for their core group.

Naturally, this is my theorizing, having lived among both for years.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:19 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


New Yorkers seem rude because they're waiting for you to get to the point.

Interesting that in France the situation seems to be almost precisely the opposite. Or it is according to an excellent book I once read, "French or Foe." The author says that the reason the French appear rude to Americans is that the tourists are not observing the niceties that are expected in civilized (read: French) discourse. He or she provided the 'magic words' that would get a hotel room when the place was fully booked or otherwise motivate the recipient to perform superhuman feats of kindness in response for observing the rules. The phrase, if I recall correctly, that was to be used to preface any request was: "Bonjour Madame/Monsieur, excusez-moi de vous déranger, mais j'ai un problème."
posted by Turtles all the way down at 11:19 AM on May 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


Anyway, the best part about New Yorkers is that anyone can be one.

I don't know if it's the best thing, but it is salient--and there are numerous parallels elsewhere. I grew up in California and now live in DC: the most ridiculous and irritating hippies on the West Coast are those who flocked there from other parts; likewise, Our Nation's Capital deserves some appreciation for taking such a large number of socially-retarded ambitionbots off the hands of other communities.
posted by kittyprecious at 11:20 AM on May 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


who on earth is calling you?

Engineers & architects, mostly. Some building officials, and occasionally a construction worker or crane operator, but mostly AEC type people.
posted by aramaic at 11:21 AM on May 20, 2008


It's Donald Trump, isn't it?
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on May 20, 2008


I know one engineer/architect. no idea how they normally talk. I don't know any building officials, but I know a ton or construction workers. Where construction workers are concerned, that's not a 212 area code thing. That's a "work environment of all fat ex-athlete alpha male types" thing. They're like that everywhere.
posted by shmegegge at 11:25 AM on May 20, 2008


In my practice, I meet lots of New Yorkers, and lots of non-New Yorkers. Except for working on a somewhat faster clock, I think the whole rudeness tag is a crock. It's a way of non-New Yorkers coping with their fears of cultural and urban inadequacy.
posted by BrooklynCouch at 11:31 AM on May 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


I loathe New Yorkers. But I don't think that they're particularly rude.

Objectively rude actions are universal stuff like farting when you're right in front of me or being too loud in public. This happens everywhere. New Yorkers are not particularly objectively rude.

Subjectively rude is when someone violates the non-universal social norms that you're accustomed to. As someone from the Northeast, New Yorkers generally work the way I prefer-- no chitchat, little eye contact with strangers, mind their own business. Rude people to those of us in New York and Boston are, paradoxically, the friendly people. To me, Philadelphia for instance, is full of rude people. "STOP MAKING CHITCHAT AND SELL ME THE GODDAMN SOFT PRETZEL ALREADY!" Of course, that happens IN Philadelphia, so I grit my teeth and make small talk because I think it's important to follow the customs of the locals and expect them to follows yours when they visit.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:36 AM on May 20, 2008


Interesting that in France the situation seems to be almost precisely the opposite.

I would agree with this. It's amazing how greeting the proprietor/staff when entering and leaving an establishment and s'il vous plais, merci, je vous en prie (even in questionably-pronounced French) changes the whole nature of the experience.
posted by desuetude at 11:37 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's a way of non-New Yorkers coping with their fears of cultural and urban inadequacy.

Douchebag. You're definitely special, but not in the way you want to be.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:38 AM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


FIRST SENTENCE FAIL

I don't know. Eight million people is a lot.

Times Square, where the Tourist Hordes rule the streets like a big fleshy mob

So true. It takes three or four times as long to go a given distance around Times Square than it does pretty much anywhere else.

I couldn't bring myself to go to Staten Island, though.

You're not missing that much.

Now, will you all get out of my way? There's an express train arriving across the platform.
posted by oaf at 11:39 AM on May 20, 2008


Newsflash: People are assholes everywhere.
posted by tadellin at 11:42 AM on May 20, 2008


kittyprecious-> "socially-retarded ambitionbots"

I LOVE that! Thank you! Is that Metafilter-worthy?

Metafilter: socially-retarded ambitionbots.
posted by PigAlien at 11:43 AM on May 20, 2008


STOP MAKING CHITCHAT AND SELL ME THE GODDAMN SOFT PRETZEL ALREADY!

Whereas in NY, street vendors don't make chitchat because they're already shouting in Farsi into their cell phones.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:46 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


"socially-retarded ambitionbots"

I think that was a line from a recent B-52s song.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:49 AM on May 20, 2008


Fun to pick out the New Yorkers and non-New Yorkers commenting here. You know who you are. As a native, I'd like to point out.. it's NOT rudeness but impatience. As New York happens to be the capital of the universe, we have the best and worst of everything; people who will dive on top of someone to save them from an oncoming subway train, or pot dealers overcharging for delivery service.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 11:51 AM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


And I should've read the article before posting, but I knew from the title and author that it would suck and be wildly inaccurate. People asking each other how much they paid for a bag on the bus? THAT is tacky and rude, and I've never seen anything like that happen, ever, in NYC. She's from fucking CALIFORNIA anyway; Land of Delusion. I hate articles like this.
posted by ChickenringNYC at 11:56 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


posted by ChickenringNYC

Great, now I have to stop at White Castle on the way home. Thanks.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:59 AM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I sometimes get into conversations with taxi drivers, and since most of them are new to the city, I often ask them what they miss about the place they came from. Almost always, they name very ordinary pleasures: a slower pace of life, a café where they could sit around and talk to friends, a street where they could play kickball without getting run over. Those who miss these things enough will go back home. That means that the rest of us, statistically, are more high-strung, hungry and intent on long-term gains

We're not all trying to be Wall-Street tycoons and Broadway stars. Simple pleasures are just as important to me as they are to anyone else. I just don't necessarily like the same things you like.

I could take or leave a front porch, I hate cars and don't want one, and I've never played kickball or wanted to. Cafes where you can talk to your friends? We have those here. A lot of them.

For me, the small pleasures are reading books, eating interesting foods, talking to all kinds of cool people, being able to order out at 2am, etc. I love NYC for these things.
posted by grumblebee at 12:01 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


My wife will ask random strangers where they got items of clothing she likes, I always just put it down to her being an American*. Usually it results in a polite and freindly conversation.

* She's not from New York.
posted by Artw at 12:01 PM on May 20, 2008


LOL, NYSUX, AMIRITE?
posted by fixedgear at 12:18 PM on May 20, 2008


I could take or leave a front porch...

You can have one in New York, if you want. 6 floors up with a flowering meadow!
posted by ericb at 12:25 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Why do New Yorkers seem rude?"

Nunya gawdammed biznus.
posted by Eideteker at 12:26 PM on May 20, 2008


(That article has me laughing and smiling and all kinds of missing New York.)
posted by Eideteker at 12:31 PM on May 20, 2008


...it's NOT rudeness but impatience.


They are distinct, but expressing the one just about always constitutes the other.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:33 PM on May 20, 2008


I'm from the South, the Deep South originally, and found most New Yorkers extremely helpful and friendly last time I was there, nothing at all like the stereotype. The only thing that annoyed me, especially, was the stuff like (heard at the Village Vanguard, from a band's manager), "You mean, they listen to jazz in Alabama?" What moron could possibly think otherwise?

I'm in New Orleans now. We have jazz here too.
posted by raysmj at 12:34 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


My best story about New Yorkers is that I was eating in a pizza place at about 45th and 5th Avenue in Manhattan. A homeless kid came in and started rooting through the trash can looking for pizza crusts. The big gruff guy behind the counter said, "Hey!" is a thick Brooklyn accent. My thought was, "here comes the kid getting chased out of the shop." Instead the guy said, "Here" and gave the kid a fresh slice of pizza. Messed up all my stereotypes of New Yorkers.
posted by Xoc at 12:34 PM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


They seem rude because many are. Goes hand in hand with the "we are so smart, popular, and important" attitude of this article.
posted by jeblis at 12:35 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


We're only rude to the bovine mouthbreathers who are standing somewhere they shouldn't be standing. Then they go home and post comments to message boards about how mean we are.
posted by bink at 12:40 PM on May 20, 2008


I loathe New Yorkers.

We... Have... ARRIVED!
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:41 PM on May 20, 2008


i was in the philadelphia airport on christmas morning last year, getting some kind of breakfast sandwich before my flight. there was a guy - who was ahead of me in line, but was just standing talking to his friend and totally ignoring the server as they said "can i help the next person?"

so i ordered and a couple minutes later he notices me ahead of him on the way to the cashier and says "wasn't i ahead of you in line?"

and i said, "yes, but you weren't paying attention."

so he and some other lady who was ahead of me in line start telling me what a horrible person i am for going in front of him "ON CHRISTMAS, NO LESS!!!!"

and that's why people think new yorkers are rude: because we don't take responsibility for the fact that you aren't paying attention.
posted by snofoam at 12:43 PM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


They seem rude because many are. Goes hand in hand with the "we are so smart, popular, and important" attitude of this article.

What neighborhood do you live in? No one I know is like that. Are you talking about twenty-somethings who go clubbing every night? I guess that's A New York; it's certainly not MY New York. My New York is mostly full of people with dogs and kids.
posted by grumblebee at 12:43 PM on May 20, 2008


I'm in New Orleans now. We have jazz here too.

I thought it moved to Utah?
posted by inigo2 at 12:48 PM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Actually I agree with Mayor Curley for the most part, all this navel gazing takes what's good about the city and grinds it down to nothing. New York has crawled up its own ass too many times, it's the most boring thing about living here and it's fucking embarrassing to always hear about it.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:49 PM on May 20, 2008


I'm from the South, the Deep South originally, and found most New Yorkers extremely helpful and friendly

To be fair, I too am from Alabama and always have a ball in New York and I find folks helpful and friendly, often overly so. I do have two great New York stories though. I was up once with a girlfriend and we had a great day. It was one of those wonderful, clear spring days, birds singing, sun shining, etc. We got on the subway to ride somewhere and were laughing and smiling and riding standing up. My gf, still smiling turned and looked at the "yo kidz" kid sitting beside us, who promptly shouted, "Yo, don't smile at me, bitch!" Which made us laugh hysterically, luckilly it was our stop.

The other story is from my father. Back in the 60's he hitchhiked his way to NY and was going to museums and such, but got turned around. He saw a "tourist information" booth and got in line to ask how to get to the MOMA or some such, which he knew was only a couple of blocks away. Finally, after waiting for some time he got to the window and asked. The woman behind the glass told him, "Take the subway. Next!"
posted by Pollomacho at 12:55 PM on May 20, 2008


From the article:
In the United States today, public behavior is ruled by a kind of compulsory cheer that people probably picked up from television and advertising and that coats their transactions in a smooth, shiny glaze, making them seem empty-headed.
What the hell is that crap? Did it ever occur to this person that people might actually be cheerful on their own, that their behavior might not be the result of a 'empty-headed glaze picked up from television'?

Way to come across like an elitist prick.
posted by delmoi at 12:56 PM on May 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Can't we distinguish between people who move to New York as adults - presumably specifically to be among the most ambitious and competitive (and egotistical and self-centered) people in their field - and actual New Yorkers like me, who just happen to be from here, and are no ruder on average than anyone else? (I can tie all this back into the societal benefits of rent regulation, if you'd like me to really piss you off.)
posted by nicwolff at 12:57 PM on May 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


There’s a one-panel cartoon by Callahan that I fondly remember (but for which I couldn't find an image link), which I think fits this thread perfectly:

The panel is split between Los Angeles and New York...one one side, an Angeleno is saying,"Have a nice day!" but the thought bubble over his head reads, "Fuck you!"--while on the other side, a New Yorker is saying "Fuck you!" but the thought bubble over his head reads, “Have a nice day!”
posted by retronic at 12:59 PM on May 20, 2008


grumblebee Someone who lives there isn't really going to be able to compare it very well to the standards of other places. You get used to the behavior and no longer notice it. Bad behavior tends to be more noticeable than good behavior.

And of course not everyone is rude. New Yorkers have that reputation for a reason: compared to other places, on average, they probably are. For me what's always stood out more is the attitude of self-importance.

For everyone pointing out how they are justified in being rude. You may be justified, but that in no way makes you less rude.
posted by jeblis at 1:00 PM on May 20, 2008


There's all sorts of unspoken rules as far as walking down the streets goes

My favorite walking-down-the-street-in-NY story is from when I used to live in Hoboken and work in the city and took the bus back and forth every day. I usually walked from Lincoln Center down 8th Avenue to Port Authority to catch the bus home, and I was fairly practiced at dodging dawdlers and slow-walkers in my sprint to the bus. But one day I was thwarted at every turn, it seemed, by folks who were just standing and talking, or standing and looking up, or standing and pointing. I was fuming silently as I was blocked for the hundredth time by a clump of people just standing around chatting in the middle of the sidewalk, and then I heard these two construction guys behind me, who had been in the pack for a couple of blocks by this point, say, "Come ON!!! Go over to 9th Avenue if you want to have a conversation!! Everybody knows 8th Avenue is for walking, 9th Avenue is for talking!!!"
posted by mothershock at 1:03 PM on May 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


Weird, retronic, someone just posted the cartoon you're looking for to today's other "WTF NYC" thread.
posted by nicwolff at 1:07 PM on May 20, 2008


I've lived in New York, and I live in Nashville. and I can say with certainty that Nashvilleans are ten times ruder and more brusque than anyone I ever met in New York. Here in Nashville, I'm regularly hailed by a complete stranger with "Hey you!" followed by demands that I give them detailed directions to someplace I've never heard of, and dumb incredulity at my refusal and apology. In New York, I always got an, "Excuse me, sir..." or some such.

The fact that people continue to traffic in NYC stereotypes or prate about how everyone in the South is polite is just an example of unreflective prejudice that most people let pass because they're uncritical and ignorant. In Manhattan alone, there were 1.6 million people living on an island 23 miles square: New Yorkers are not exactly a homogeneous group of people.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:08 PM on May 20, 2008


I've lived on the West Coast all my life, but travel frequently to NYC, sometimes twice a month. And in all of my time there I've only ever found New Yorkers to be kind and helpful. Sure, they can be brusque and direct sometimes, but that pretty much describes the inhabitants of every major city I've visited. And if there's an arrogance about living in NYC, well I'd say much of it is deserved; it's a fantastically rich and diverse place.

A friend of mine--a woman--who's lived in LA and NYC compared the two cities this way:
"If I'm walking down the street in Manhattan and I bump into a woman who's in a bad mood she might spin around and yell 'Watch where you're going you STUPID BITCH!' if the same thing happens in LA they're more likely to say: 'Watch where you're going you FAT BITCH' . . . I'll take New York on this score."
posted by donovan at 1:24 PM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've been living in NYC for a couple months now (moved from a lifetime in California), and I adjusted in no time. What I learned very quickly is that NYers aren't necessarily rude, they're just more assertive. I'm very qualified to speak on this as I'm working in the service industry. One thing I can say for sure is that people in NY are much better tippers than in California. Especially Silicon Valley. 20% vs. 15% norm.

I'm by nature a confrontational person, but I'm also very tactful. I'm that waiter who defies convention and risks his job by approaching insufficient tippers. Done it over two dozen times without a hitch or complaint to management. When I was back in California, I always buttered up my language when making the approach...was my service alright? Was there something I could have done better? etc. In NY, I've naturally been using a more assertive approach...Hey, I just wanted to let you guys know an average tip is around 15-20%. etc. It really resonates with the people here, and they hook me up accordingly.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 1:25 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nashvilleans are ten times ruder and more brusque than anyone I ever met in New York.

Nashville is currently populated by ex-Michiganers and Iraqi Kurds, go figure?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:26 PM on May 20, 2008


Synchronicity strikes again, nicwolff! Thanks for pointing it out, now I can grab it for future chortling.
posted by retronic at 1:29 PM on May 20, 2008


Fellow humans aren't a burden, they are a gift.

Then I would like to re-gift the neighborhood crackhead who sings "What's Love Got to Do With It?" over and over again at the top of her lungs at 2 am.
posted by stargell at 1:33 PM on May 20, 2008 [9 favorites]


New Yorkers have that reputation for a reason: compared to other places, on average, they probably are. For me what's always stood out more is the attitude of self-importance.

Are you sure there's such a thing as "New Yorkers"? Why do my lefty theatre-people friends have in common with Hasidic Jews, the wall-street set, or people who live in Chinatown?

WHICH New Yorkers are you talking about. Or do you think all groups tend to feel privileged. There are tons of people in my neighborhood who don't act like they feel privileged. They're too busy making dinner for their kids.
posted by grumblebee at 1:33 PM on May 20, 2008


In a very nice tone of voice, I have to say:
Stay to the right! Step in to the middle of the car! Don't stop at the top or bottom of the escalator! Teenage girls from whereever (you all seem blond with pink hoodies) -- stop flipping your fabulous hair on jam-packed subway cars, you are hitting me in the face!
Big boys with big bags, stop throwing them over your shoulder without checking behind you! Do NOT have loud show-ffy instructive I'm-such-a-great-parent conversations with your little kids that are more for the benefit of your audience than the kid. I don't care if your kid just came from his headshots, ok? Do not text while you are walking on the sidewalk, OMG. Do not walk three abreast. Do not stop and talk -- step out of the way! Wow!Don't eat your meals on the train, it's vile. Don't hang on the subway pole with a sloshing coffee in your hand. Do not not hold on on the train. ok? It's not hilariously funny to almost fall in to people every three seconds when the train brakes, I don't care if you've never been on a subway before. I'm tired of flinching while you catch your balance. No, I don't know how to get to ground zero.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:41 PM on May 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Why (sic) do my lefty theatre-people friends have in common with Hasidic Jews, the wall-street set, or people who live in Chinatown?

Lack of patience ;)
posted by caddis at 1:42 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


When you're sitting next to me on the subway, do not stick your elbows out like chicken wings so that you can more easily hold your magazine. Those are my ribs you're poking. Do not heave a huge "What A Day!" sign when you're standing over me. I don't want to smell your coffee breath. Do not sit with your legs wide apart. I'm not up for porn, and I'd like a place to sit down. Do not bring your bike on the train during rush hour. Do not hum quietly to yourself. It's like fingernails on a blackboard. Do not try to entertain me with your bongos. I have a headache. Sit NEXT to the person you're talking to -- not across from them. You're not on stage. We don't care that you got laid last night.
posted by grumblebee at 1:52 PM on May 20, 2008


Huh, I've spent a moderate amount of time in NY and never found the people to be rude.
posted by Grod at 2:14 PM on May 20, 2008


So you're saying that New Yorkers just seem rude because they're not polite?

No, I'm saying that by non-American standards they're amazingly polite. It's just that the rest of America is even more so.
posted by Mocata at 2:27 PM on May 20, 2008


It's a way of non-New Yorkers coping with their fears of cultural and urban inadequacy.

Douchebag. You're definitely special, but not in the way you want to be.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:38 PM on May 20 [+] [!]


I know the Metafilter server was briefly located in NYC on the Upper West Side, but it no longer is.

SO, what's your excuse?
posted by BrooklynCouch at 2:31 PM on May 20, 2008


Dude, that doesn't even make any sense.
posted by dersins at 2:38 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's a story:

A friend of mine, from NY, visits his father in Georgia rather regularly. He loves going down there, he's kind of a huge REM fan and his father lives close enough to Athens that he gets to see the scene down there.

But his father doesn't live THAT close to Athens. One day, while they're all out to dinner, this guy in cowboy boots, flannel shirt tucked in, trucker cap and a big belt buckle walks up to the table.

"Hey, I heard y'all are from New York."

"Yup."

At this point, the guy in cowboy boots leans in real close to my friend and says, rather sinisterly, "I heard y'all are a bunch of nigger lovers up there."

So this friend of mine is a big guy, and he doesn't put up with shit from anyone. Back home, he's kind of known for giving people shit, even undeservedly. His response: "Yeah, I heard you guys are all a bunch of sister lovers, down here."

Cowboy Boots gets furiously pissed off. Starts yelling. My friend's dad steps up in between them and calms him down, saying things like "I'm sorry. He's new here, he doesn't understand things. Really, I'm very sorry." etc... The dad comes back to the table eventually, having pacified Cowboy Boots enough to get him to go back, fuming, to his table. The dad comes back to the table and grabs his son by the arm, making a big display of force (presumably for the sake of Cowboy Boots) and snarls at him, "you have to apologize to that guy."

my friend: "fuck that guy. fuck these god damn hicks, I don't even know why you live down here with these fucking assholes."

his dad: "shut the fuck up and listen to me. You don't know how it is down here. Some guys down here will get their friends and fuck you up for shit like that. If he's one of them, this isn't over and it will get violent. Now fucking apologize and sound like you mean it before you get yourself, your sister AND me hurt."

so he went and apologized, ate a shit-ton of crow, and meekly went back to his meal.

I sometimes wonder if Cowboy Boots thinks new yorkers are rude.
posted by shmegegge at 2:39 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sure it makes sense: were the Metafilter computer still in New York City, it would shift everyone's posts towards the rude!
posted by BrooklynCouch at 2:39 PM on May 20, 2008


Uh, ok.
posted by dersins at 2:43 PM on May 20, 2008


BRUSQUE != RUDE

I was extremely impressed by how helpful and polite everyone was on my last trip to NYC. Several people took the time to explain how to get somewhere to my wife and me.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:46 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I admit that Grand Theft Auto IV and Flight of the Conchords have commenced to stir in my belly a strange desire to visit New York, but there's nowhere on this planet worthwhile enough to convince me to spend over a day stuck inside a plane with a mob of homeward-bound American tourists. Or, indeed, ex-Australians with affected American accents.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:50 PM on May 20, 2008


Having now actually read the article and the thread: Pretty much everything that New Yorkers or visitors to New York have highlighted as local or cultural peculiarities (Don’t stop in the middle of the footpath. Get to the point. Pay attention. Don’t be rude. I'm not responsible for you being a moron. Etc.) also apply to Brisbane, which is approximately one one-thousandth of the size of NYC, which suggests to me that these things are not local or cultural peculiarities at all but common fucking sense, and please don’t try to convince me that NY has a monopoly on that.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:32 PM on May 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


That's true; the bumbling about and stopping for no reason are characteristics of any tourist town anywhere.
posted by Miko at 3:35 PM on May 20, 2008


the bumbling about and stopping for no reason are characteristics of any tourist town anywhere.

But yet the self-serving justifications for shoving aside those bumbling tourists seem to come mostly from a single geographic source.

(As we've learned in this thread, it of course has nothing to do with rudeness. Just "impatience." After all, some people's wants are just that much more important, don't you know, and a judiciously applied shove or two is perfectly reasonable.)
posted by dersins at 3:43 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


In any case, its friendly over here on NYC's Right Bank (Brooklyn).
posted by BrooklynCouch at 3:45 PM on May 20, 2008


BrooklynCouch, are you a sockpuppet for Racter?
posted by everichon at 3:48 PM on May 20, 2008


MetaFilter New York: Fuck You!
posted by bwg at 3:50 PM on May 20, 2008


I can't believe no one has mentioned Overheard in New York yet.
posted by bwg at 3:51 PM on May 20, 2008


I just skimmed this thread, so I don't know if someone else posted this, but I prefer this description of New Yorkers. Among the gems:

Speaking of "things to skip", I suggest skipping the giant Times Square New Year's Eve celebration, unless you are a pickpocket, in which case you should get there early. Instead, have dinner on 9th Avenue. As you pass each cross-street walking down 9th Avenue, you will be able to see the Times Square crowd two blocks east, and you can pause a moment to think how clever you are to not to be part of it; feeling smugly superior to the writhing mass of humanity is an authentically New York experience. Then have an awesome dinner on 9th Avenue, and take the subway home.
posted by A dead Quaker at 4:02 PM on May 20, 2008



I sometimes wonder if Cowboy Boots thinks new yorkers are rude.


shmegegge, I wish you hadn't told that story. Because it made me a lot more willing to entertain ideas like reviving the goddamn civil war and killing every last single solitary individual from each southern state just to try and make sure it was totally clear that kind of shit is not OK.

In short, it made me a little less human and a little more like scum like Cowboy Boots.

If anybody wants to step in now and help me believe that the South is actually fit to be even considered the fucking outskirts of civilization, now would be a damn good time.
posted by namespan at 4:04 PM on May 20, 2008


There's all sorts of unspoken rules as far as walking down the streets goes

That's true in every city.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 4:21 PM on May 20, 2008


New Yorkers often seem rude to non-New Yorkers because they appear to be obsessed not only with themselves, but also with how awesome they are for being New Yorkers-- and non-New Yorkers can't possibly understand how awesome and superior they are for being New Yorkers.

I never realised this before, but it's Vancouver, and not Toronto or Montreal, that's the New York of Canada. Though I doubt that New Yorkers have an additional sense of moral superiority because of their weather.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 4:26 PM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


namespan, that'd be as ignorant as Cowboy Boots. Same shit goes down in northern cities, especially if the company is perceived to be sympathetic.
posted by desuetude at 4:29 PM on May 20, 2008


Somebody was wearing cowboy boots in Georgia? Are you sure this wasn't Texas or Wyoming?

Well I'll be. And I bet nobody has ever used a hostile racial epithet in anger in New York!

I will say this. I been around. My family is from Idaho. I was born in the South and spent my early childhood there. Grew up in Europe. lived in South America. Went to high school and college in the Northwest. Travel regularly to New York.

New York is a synthesis of ALL those places. It's no more rude. It only moves faster.

And people there may act like snobby about the place because it IS an awesome and extremely dynamic and alive place. It is our largest and one of our oldest cities and the vibe there is not a fable. The place seethes with energy other places in America just doesn't have. Other cities in the world do. Paris. London. Rome. Berlin. Chicago is only place in the US that comes close.

Everybody has a little right be provincial. It's okay. But when people get all "New York Ain't all that!" It's comes off as just a wee bit insecure.
posted by tkchrist at 4:51 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


bumbling about is not a crime.
posted by stubby phillips at 4:55 PM on May 20, 2008


... unless you do it on a skateboard.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:12 PM on May 20, 2008


I grew up in Montana. My father had gone to law school at NYU. My father told me New Yorkers were rude. He told me that New Yorkers were rude because the population was so large that the chances of anyone encountering the same stranger more then once was very small, thus one could more likely "get away with" being rude. As an example of rudeness, my father explained how people would "kibitz" games of chess in public parks. This sounded very rude to me.

In 1987 I visited New York for the first time. I was eating lunch at a diner in Manhattan, and I didn't have a watch. I quietly asked the man behind the counter what time it was.
"SEE THAT CLOCK ON THE WALL, BIG CLOCK" he bellowed...

Later on that same trip I was walking down the sidewalk and passed a storefront whose signage read something like "World Bodybuilding Wax Museum". This sounded very intriguing, but the glass window was mirrored. I thought it might be "two-way" mirrored, and so I proceeded to cup my hands around my eyes to peer into the building. Presently some elderly Jewish sounding man began to yell at me "That is not your place! You have no business there".

In the early 1990's while on the sideshow our tour bus rolled up in front of the club we were playing at and we all came off the bus. A group of men standing on the sidewalk was busy regaling the woman walking across the street with a stream of vile sexual crudities.

In the mid 1990's my girlfriend and I flew to New York to visit Sean Lennon. As we walked outside of the LaGuardia terminal and stood on the sidewalk with our luggage, some airport worker began yelling at us that we were standing in the wrong place to get a taxi.

While on the sideshow I traveled quite a bit. All around the US several times, across Canada, four times to Europe, and once to Australia. I've been in big cities and out in the boonies. And yes, New York really does stand out for me.

New York is full of assholes.
posted by Tube at 5:19 PM on May 20, 2008


My best friend is a New Yorker/transplanted Bostonian and she doesn't see what the rest of the country sees in cars, loves to walk everywhere, talking to her dry-cleaner, knowing her sandwich shop dude, doesn't care that the rest or America is so different from NYC.
I just want my food fast and without chitchat at the Chik-Fil-a drivethru. Frankly it is delusional, New York is only cool if you want to put up with no personal space, $1,300 a month for a roach infested apartment, expensive tobacco, bans on anything that you might enjoy.

New Yorkers are definitely rude because 8 million out of 300 million does not define the norm, they're like a different country.

Also, down south we all have guns, so you better be polite. The most polite place in the world is a gun show in Atlanta. All classes and races get along there, country redneck, suburban white family man, minority from the hood. Nothing makes you as nice as talking to a guy who is selling you guns, who is wearing a loaded gun, surrounded by other people carrying guns, knives, tazers or all three.

Yep, that's what NYC needs, more guns, dammit. Welcome to America.
posted by so_articulate at 5:26 PM on May 20, 2008


$1,300 a month

$1,300? $1,300? Where?!!!??!
posted by stargell at 5:49 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


$1,300? $1,300? Where?!!!??!

What? You don't read the obituaries new rental listings?
posted by elfgirl at 6:05 PM on May 20, 2008


What? You don't read the obituaries new rental listings?

We had friends—a couple with two young sons, one of them learning-disabled—who lived in a little apartment in Inwood. The wife told this story once: Her husband, a commercial pilot, was out of town and she was asleep with the kids one night when she heard a faint thumping coming through her ceiling, apparently from the apartment upstairs. Thump ... thump ... thump. Thump ... thump ... thump. It went on long enough that she went up to the next floor and knocked on the door. No answer. She went back down to her apartment and still she could hear the thumping, though weaker. Finally, she called the police. They arrived a short time later, and she led them up the stairs. After knocking repeatedly and getting no response, the cops forced their way into the apartment, where they found the tenant lying in a hallway, bleeding to death from multiple stab wounds.

Terrified, the woman called her husband and told him the story. His response: "How many bedrooms?"
posted by stargell at 6:44 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


New Yorkers seem rude because they have the best blow and the worst pot in the country.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 7:02 PM on May 20, 2008


If anybody wants to step in now and help me believe that the South is actually fit to be even considered the fucking outskirts of civilization, now would be a damn good time.

Great things from the South:

Willie Nelson, William Faulkner, Hunter S. Thompson, Andre 3000 and Big Boi, Elvis, The Polyphonic Spree, Norah Jones, Blues, Jazz, Rock & Roll, bourbon, corn dogs, moonpies, Coke, Pepsi, Bill Hicks, Sam Kinison, Mike Judge, the Shenandoah Valley, the Smoky Mountains, mint juleps, Thomas Wolfe, Walker Percy, and hush puppies.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:12 PM on May 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


weston: I don't know what the actual odds are, and I'd still be willing to bet there's some superior Indian food there, but I'm learning a little more respect for my hometown and the Indian cooks there (and to ask for recommendations before I pick places to eat in the city, because that seems to work out a lot better).

If you don't mind taking the subway out of Manhattan, then you can get some great authentic Indo-Pak food at Jackson Heights in the neighboring Queens borough.
posted by PsychoKick at 7:26 PM on May 20, 2008


Sociolinguist Deborah Tannen on how native New York conversational patterns differ from the rest of the country and how this creates misunderstanding on both sides (at least, circa 1980).
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:56 PM on May 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


and another article of hers based on slightly more recent research.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:01 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


LobsterMitten, that was a terrific article! (And a cool site). I absolutely agree with most of her assessments. One of the hardest things to get used to, as I moved from the NY area to New England as an adult, was the fact that people wouldn't interrupt me when I'm talking, or talk over/alongside/with me. THe speech style I grew up with was the "everyone talking at once" thing she describes, and it still causes odd social blips when someone else is talking and I begin to step in with "Exactly! Yeah, right down the street!" and stuff like that, and they stop what they're saying and listen to me - because they think I'm explosively interrupting. It's awkward. When you've grown up in a Robert Altman movie, hearing people patiently talk one at a time seems odd, formal, and strained.
posted by Miko at 8:32 PM on May 20, 2008


It is said that New Yorkers are rude, but I think what people mean by that is that New Yorkers are more familiar. The man who waits on you in the delicatessen is likely to call you sweetheart.

"Would you like grits or biscuits with that waffle, darlin'" is actually a pretty common phrase here in the South. Besides, if New Yorkers are so smart, how come they all talk like Vinnie Barbarino? I read that essay in the magazine a few days ago and like many of the readers here, it struck me that New Yorkers are not so much rude as arrogant.
posted by TedW at 8:36 PM on May 20, 2008


I can't believe no one has mentioned Overheard in New York yet.

that may be because I already linked it years ago. It might be considered old news.

shmegegge, I wish you hadn't told that story. Because it made me a lot more willing to entertain ideas like reviving the goddamn civil war and killing every last single solitary individual from each southern state just to try and make sure it was totally clear that kind of shit is not OK.

to be abundantly clear about this: I told the story as a way to say that culture clash has two sides to it, and that I don't think new yorkers (or anyone else for that matter) should take it especially seriously that people from elsewhere think they're rude. That comment was not intended to be a hate-on for georgia or the south. I think that particular dude was a complete fucking asshole, but that wasn't the point. The point was that if people in the south want to tell me that they're so much politer than new yorkers, I have a bridge to sell them in a borough they don't want to live in.

Somebody was wearing cowboy boots in Georgia? Are you sure this wasn't Texas or Wyoming?

Man, people wear cowboy boots in Jersey.

Well I'll be. And I bet nobody has ever used a hostile racial epithet in anger in New York!

No. No one ever has. That's why I hate the south so much. I think everyone in the south is a racist asshole, which is why I'm always going off about how much I hate them. I think New York is just the peachiest town there is, and everyone there is a paragon of right thinking, whereas the south is just full of dirty wrongthinkers. blahblahblah etc... let me know when I've hit the sweet spot for you to focus your indignation on.

I will say this. I been around. My family is from Idaho. I was born in the South and spent my early childhood there. Grew up in Europe. lived in South America. Went to high school and college in the Northwest. Travel regularly to New York.

New York is a synthesis of ALL those places. It's no more rude. It only moves faster.


tkchrist, I think you're the cat's pyjamas and stuff, but shit you have this thing you do where you swagger into discussions, puff your chest out and go "now listen up! I'm about to drop the BIG SCIENCE on your ignorant asses!" It makes discussions less easy, sometimes.
posted by shmegegge at 8:39 PM on May 20, 2008


Great Things From the North: Everything Else.
posted by phrontist at 10:11 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


That was the first article I've ever read that made me seriously want to move to New York. The article makes it sound wonderful.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:40 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


One thing really sticks in my mind about New York and New Yorkers.

It was maybe my second visit, and it was January. Bitterly cold, and the snow was at least a foot deep, and deeper in places. I'm somewhere in lower Midtown -- I've been shopping for duck down at the wonderful Paragon Sporting Goods.

Anyway, I come out of the store and walk a few blocks south, when I start to hear someone in howls of pain and misery. I'm still kinda jetlagged and confused, so it takes me a while, but then I notice that there's a man on crutches, stuck in a snow drift, howling for help. People in their business suits are just walking past as though this is perfectly normal.

What do I know? When in Rome. So, to my eternal shame, like everybody else, I just walked on by and left the man to deal with his problem.

Needless to say, the guy was very poor, almost certainly homeless. And despite his obvious distress, he was less visible than a dog turd on the sidewalk.

Nice place to visit. Wouldn't wanna live there.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:38 AM on May 21, 2008


I've always found the people in NYC to be easy to deal with. I've mostly encountered courtesy and friendliness. A little bluntness too, but never outright rudeness. Upstaters though, OMG. I've never encountered so many rude people in my life.
posted by eratus at 4:22 AM on May 21, 2008


Perhaps it's not rudeness, but a self-protective holding-everyone-at-arms-length.

There's just a huge crush of people here, and if I were to be open and engaged with every stranger I saw on the street, the sheer numbers of people I'd have to interface with would make me run mad. I think the sheer press of humanity makes New Yorkers pull back into themselves a bit.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:52 AM on May 21, 2008


I just visited New York this weekend, and everyone was nice, if a little more assertive/friendly (and loud, but that's true of many places in the US) than somewhere like Toronto (which can be a fairly formal place in comparison with even less small talk with shopkeepers etc.).

But what they do have is an amazing sense of self-importance, one to rival London's. We were in the Museum of New York, watching a short film on the history of New York, and they were proudly announcing how the new elevated trains in the late 19th cen meant that for the first time anywhere people didn't live where they worked. Only I think that it was a few years after London did the same thing with its first commuter trains.

Also, they claimed to have the best natural harbour in the world, and that's definitely not true - it's Halifax. (Sure, it doesn't have good river links to the interior, but just as a harbour, it's awesome - very important military harbour.)

Okay, now my husband is thinking that the best all rounder (balancing access to trade routes both marine and river and quality of the harbour) in harbours is probably Shanghai, while the best natural harbour in the United States is San Francisco bay.
posted by jb at 8:18 AM on May 21, 2008


Mobile?
posted by Pollomacho at 8:33 AM on May 21, 2008


For the US, not the world obviously.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:34 AM on May 21, 2008


it doesn't have good river links to the interior,

But that's the main thing that makes for a good harbor. That's what opened up so many inland markets and made it an important transhipping port, which is why it easily drew the tonnage (except for fisheries, ice, and timber) away from ports north by the mid-nineteenth century.
posted by Miko at 8:45 AM on May 21, 2008


Considering that New York City gets about 25 billion dollars a year from visitor spending, many New Yorkers sure are rude about tourists. I guess they don't think about the connection between the good things they have and the visitor money that helps to pay for those good things. A big art exhibition, for example, might get three-quarters of its visitors from out of town. Without the tourists, New Yorkers might not be able to see that art at all, not unless they paid the big bucks to be some other city's tourists.
posted by pracowity at 10:10 AM on May 21, 2008


it doesn't have good river links to the interior

Hudson River + Erie Canal (1825) = connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.
posted by ericb at 10:14 AM on May 21, 2008


I guess they don't think about the connection between the good things they have and the visitor money that helps to pay for those good things

But that's true of any tourist town (I've lived almost exclusively in tourist towns as an adult). People definitely do not link tourism with their quality of life, though they surely do complain when tourism falls off (we can all remember the groveling NYC did to get its tourism back after 9/11). But it's not exclusive to New York by any means - it happens in bucolic New England towns, too, where a favorite topic of conversatin is $%& tourists crowding the roads, bumbling about on the sidewalks, asking annoying questions, "taking over" the restaurants, beaches, and bars...Very rarely do people acknowledge that tourism is responsible for keeping those businesses in the black and that infrastructure in place.

On the other hand, tourists do not realize how hard regions work to accommodate them and their needs and desires, often at the expense of local convenience and freedom and other types of economic development. Some of the townie/tourist tension is due to that awareness. But whaddya gonna do.
posted by Miko at 10:27 AM on May 21, 2008


But that's the main thing that makes for a good harbor.

Well, that's what makes a good all round harbour -- but the film was all like "the natural harbour is TEH BEST", ie the place where they park the boats. As a commercial habour, NYC is better than Halifax (which is a better physical/natural harbour), but if you were to compare transport linkages, then Shanghai (and several other major harbours in the world) would beat NYC (which after the Erie canal would certainly be the best transport harbour on the north Atlantic coast of North America, but not the best natural harbour). Shanghai also had to make articial connections to the Yangtzee, just as NYC had to with the Erie canal, but the Yangtze goes so much farther inland and into such a more populous area.

Actually, this whole discussion of harbours got my husband going on about good harbours in the world (he's a naval historian), and there are lots that are better all rounders than Halifax, and lots as good or even better natural harbours. But we Canadians are almost as nationalistic/self-obsessed as NYC, so it's clearly Halifax that is the best natural harbour. But sadly lacking good inland transport.

Hudson River + Erie Canal (1825) = connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.
posted by ericb at 1:14 PM on May 21 [+] [!]


Yeah, I was talking about Halifax when I mentioned the lack of rivers.

Actually, just about the most interesting thing I learned from that video (aside from the fact that Wall Street was near, you know, the wall of the town) was that it was an artificial canal that connected the Hudson with the Great Lakes and thus Chicago and the interior. Without that canal, I wonder if shipping would have just gone down the St Lawrence instead (after the Welland Canal went in, which was shortly after the Erie)? Would Montreal have become the big transshipment point, or would the Americans have built a major city across from Kingston?
posted by jb at 11:46 AM on May 21, 2008


Hey now if we're going to derail about harbors and waterways here, let me clarify on thing. The Erie connected NY to the great lakes, but to truly connect it to the interior, the Wabash Canal and the Miami Canal parts of the Erie Canal system linking the great lakes to the Ohio river and thus to the Mississippi was where the real interior reaching was found!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:53 AM on May 21, 2008


Considering that New York City gets about 25 billion dollars a year from visitor spending, many New Yorkers sure are rude about tourists.

You're wrong and I can give you 25 billion reasons why. Really, New York isn't hurtin' for tourists and won't for a long time. D.C. may the official capital of the US, but New York is THE capital, you know?

Yes, yes, L.A. you're pretty too, but in a different way.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:14 PM on May 21, 2008


What part of that do you claim is wrong? The 25 billion? Or that many NYers have a bad attitude about the people who spend that money?
posted by pracowity at 12:39 PM on May 21, 2008


You're wrong that "NYers" have that attitude or any attitude. There are too many people here for there to be any sort of consensus.

Naturally, in a really big city, there are going to be a certain number of rude people. And you notice them ... because they're rude. You don't notice the people who aren't rude. If you walk by 500 New Yorkers on the street, how many out of those 500 are rude. If one of them is rude, that's going to have a huge impact on you, naturally. But that doesn't mean New Yorkers are rude in general.

I, for one, am barely aware of tourists. The same is true for most of the New Yorkers I know. Why? Because tourists almost all go to the same places: Times Square, Wall Street, etc. My social life and work don't take me to those places.
posted by grumblebee at 12:58 PM on May 21, 2008


Pracowity, oddly enough this city had plenty of art exhibitions back in the 70s and 80s when tourists weren't flocking here. Don't fool yourself into believing that tourist dollars are responsible for the array of cultural activities New York offers.
posted by JaredSeth at 1:17 PM on May 21, 2008


tourists weren't visiting nyc during the 70s and 80s? I'm too young to speak from experience, but I find that incredibly hard to believe.
posted by shmegegge at 1:19 PM on May 21, 2008


shmegegge, in the late 80s, NYC averaged about 5 million visitors a year and that was considered a "tourism boom" at the time. Compare that to the 44 million that visited in 2006.
posted by JaredSeth at 1:31 PM on May 21, 2008


I must have been in an alternate New York, because everyone I met there was exceedingly friendly and helpful. Of course, I knew better than to stop and gawk on the sidewalk or to stand on the left on the subway escalators, and I personally shoved people into the subway carriage. But I never expected to be offered assistance on multiple occasions without even requesting for it, and I now miss that friendly "how are you?" around every corner.
posted by hellopanda at 1:38 PM on May 21, 2008


They weren't flocking to NY in the 70s and 80s in the way that they are today. The city was at the end of a long period of infrastructure decline and corruption. IT wasn't particularly safe; there was quite a bit of street crime and visbile drug and sex trade. It was poor, and smelly, and gritty. I remember it quite well - I was a teenager in the early 80s and it was a rough place where muggings, purse-stealings, and come-ons were far from uncommon. Many of what today are prime tourist attractions (South Street Seaport, Times Square, the mega-chain-retailers like Disney and Apple) were not yet developed or were not yet scrubeed up for public presentation.

Even then, it's not as though there was NO tourist trade, though. It was still one the major destinations for the American cultural traveler. People still went to the Statue of Liberty, the UN, Rockefeller Center, the Circle Line cruises, Broadway, Radio City, and so on. We took class trips there every year.

So that's true. But

oddly enough this city had plenty of art exhibitions back in the 70s and 80s when tourists weren't flocking here. Don't fool yourself into believing that tourist dollars are responsible for the array of cultural activities New York offers.

this isn't, quite. The tourist dollars make a huge difference to the array of cultural activities New York offers. The starving-artist, downtown art scene might have been thriving, but it thrived alongside a Lincoln Center, Whitney, Guggenheim scene. Starving artists worked as gallery assistants in high-end galleries, photo stylists for publications out-of-towners read, and ushers and waiters for theatres and restaurants. Without being a powerful economic center, New York could never have attracted and built the scene that did exist. Yes, there are art exhibitions in towns with no tourist investment; but they can not easily survive on patronage from only other residents of that city, particularly when that city is cashed out, struggling, and not attracting high-end real estate investors yet.
posted by Miko at 1:40 PM on May 21, 2008


"I can't believe no one has mentioned Overheard in New York yet."

that may be because I already linked it years ago. It might be considered old news.

Yet strangely it's still relevant and deserves a mention in this thread.

You know, for those who might new around here or never have heard of it.
posted by bwg at 5:33 PM on May 21, 2008


They weren't flocking to NY in the 70s and 80s in the way that they are today. The city was at the end of a long period of infrastructure decline and corruption. IT wasn't particularly safe; there was quite a bit of street crime and visbile drug and sex trade.

My own family definitely felt this way about NYC for awhile after our friends were mugged in a subway, and their son was stabbed to death.

Although that will always very slightly color my perceptions of NYC, the vibrance of a city that never sleeps will always make me want to see it again (but maybe not to live there)
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:44 PM on May 21, 2008


You're wrong that "NYers" have that attitude or any attitude.

You conveniently skipped the "many" qualifier, grumblebee.
posted by pracowity at 9:20 PM on May 21, 2008


conveniently?

Doesn't that imply I did it on purpose? I didn't. I just didn't read carefully enough. I apologize.

I disagree with "many." I think it's more like "a few bad apples." Unfortunately, they're the ones who stand out.
posted by grumblebee at 11:02 AM on May 22, 2008


Oh so late to the party, can I derail at this point? I don't see how.

My favorite comment about New Yorkers (said without irony), "NEW YORKERS! THEY'RE LOUD! THEY'RE OPINIONATED! I HATE 'EM!"
posted by pointilist at 8:29 PM on June 2, 2008


It's alright. They love you regardless, but really, they have no time for you. They are busy. You and your slow paced (two fucking weeks to make this point?) kvetch are just not interesting to them. They have already crossed the street and you are still worried about that approaching taxi....., if you step into the crosswalk, even though the light is in your favor, it will go for you. ;)
posted by caddis at 9:34 PM on June 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


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