More tea, Vicar?
June 22, 2003 3:58 PM   Subscribe

To survive in New York, you need to be a bit street savvy. Over here in London, we simply request that you don't spread your legs. I wonder what Emily Post would make of it? I rather suspect she would have been mortified to know that girls no longer go to dances, chaperoned by their maids. Neil Young has a different perspective!
posted by apocalypse miaow (23 comments total)
I recently went to NYC on business, and that little guide might have helped me a bit. But I think I caught on pretty quickly.

You know all those midwestern habits like "excuse me" "pardon me" "please" that are used in buses, sidewalks, and such. Throw them out. I took me about 2 minutes to figure that one out, and that I had to just shove my way into the flow of things, or else I was never going to get in.

Using the NYC subway system was a fun little adventure. Yes, those percusion people are annoying as hell. My only problem at first there was figuring out which way was uptown and which way was downtown, and getting turned around in all the twists and turns in the corridors of the subway system. People were not chatty at all, unlike in the Midwest, where everyone wants to strike up a conversation on the bus.
posted by benjh at 4:39 PM on June 22, 2003

In New York, it's rude to bleed on the subway.
posted by stbalbach at 4:48 PM on June 22, 2003

Kottke weighs in as well. (What can I say? We get crotchety when people are in our way.)
posted by Vidiot at 4:58 PM on June 22, 2003

You know what I can't stand? Families that spread out across the whole damn sidewalk and walk as slow as their damn three year old kid. Must. Resist. Urges. To. Punt. Kid.
posted by dazed_one at 5:05 PM on June 22, 2003

"When sitting, please don't spread your legs - let your neighbour enjoy their space, too."

Hey, I bet a lot of your tube neighbours enjoy their space more when you spread your legs...

Oops. Did I type that out loud?
posted by kfury at 5:05 PM on June 22, 2003

NYC subways aren't that loud, generally (I'm referring to passengers here, not the train itself), but one thing that I always notice in London is how incredibly quiet everyone is on the Tube -- like you could hear a pin drop during rush hour.

My Ozone-Park-bred roommate when I lived in London used to delight in annoying the Londoners with spread legs, loud gum-popping, singing along (badly) to her Walkman, loud conversations, and other Tube no-nos. (I would usually head for the other end of the car so I could read my Evening Standard in peace.)
posted by Vidiot at 5:13 PM on June 22, 2003

a man needs a maid. hmmm. the maid problem. you people don't know just how hard the maid question is. what do you do when you move to a country where (some) wages are so low that you can afford a maid? and where it's normal middle class behaviour to do so. is the whole thing just horribly exploitative? do you employ someone but try to treat them well? maybe you pay them what a state nurse or school teacher would earn? - what does that imply about nurses and teachers? what about the argument that having a maid is a way to get money (and hence power) to poor women - people who otherwise are pretty much at the bottom of the heap? should you employ as many maids as you can? should they be equally pretty? why don't people have man maids? what do you do if you treat your maid well and she just spends all the money on clothes (ok, so maybe some of these questions are easier than others)? should we give money away instead? try and spend it on local products? ask to be paid less? is it ok to participate in "finding good help is so difficult" conversations? should we fund the local communist party instead? what if the people have left the communist party because they're too busy working so that they can have a maid?
posted by andrew cooke at 6:19 PM on June 22, 2003

posted by dg at 6:31 PM on June 22, 2003

Do any other New York MeFi'ers know the guy who plays "Amazing Grace" and the theme from "The Godfather" on his electric clarinet, over and over, veeeeery sloooowly in the Times Square subway?

I hate that guy.
posted by josh at 7:03 PM on June 22, 2003

Just don't do stuff like this:
Heard on a train's P.A. system after an
averted transit strike:

"Sir, spitting on the motorman's window will not make the train leave the station any sooner. It only goes to show how ignorant you really are. It is a shame that decent people have to ride the train with the likes of you."
Via Really small talk
posted by kickingtheground at 7:24 PM on June 22, 2003

How about an etiquette guide for transit _workers_?
posted by slipperywhenwet at 8:26 PM on June 22, 2003

I often order my food with "everything" on it. But that's only in sub shops, not delis.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:52 PM on June 22, 2003

andrew: get a maid, huevon, and be happy!
posted by signal at 9:32 PM on June 22, 2003

Also: If you are ordering from the Subway (the sandwich shop kind, not the train kind) in line ahead of me, and feel compelled to do so not only for yourself but for your Slurpee-buying friend and an unseen horde of others, each of whom are extremely particular about the exact, feng-shui-ically correct combination of toppings they require--and if you have ever uttered the phrase "a slightly less than medium amount of mustard, and for GOD'S SAKE an EVEN number of olives!", this means you--if you are that guy, either a. order all the freakin' subs at once, rather than one at a time with a trip back to the beginning for each one, or b. get behind me, at which point the needless intricacies of you and your friends' diets can merely become background chatter, rather than a form of hunger-induced torture.

Also, if you are a homeless person, you get *one* question. So if you ask me for a smoke, and I reply that I don't smoke (which I don't) and that I'm sorry (which I'm not), any subsequent asking for change will be met with a sneer, a snort and a quick walk away.
posted by arto at 10:26 PM on June 22, 2003

I enjoy bashing through the oblivious tourists standing across the entire train doorway to get on when I am getting out. Gives then some good 'New Yawkas are SO rude' stories to tell their fellow rubes back home at the park.
posted by HTuttle at 11:24 PM on June 22, 2003

How about an etiquette guide for those New Yorkers who seem to have the common belief that the entire world fucking revolves around them when it comes to transit?

So you want to get to work faster but an old lady can't just seem to get her Metrocard in wallet fast enough? What a bitch, eh? Must suck not being able to shave .4 seconds off your commute time. I weep for you.

And how about that asshole who had the nerve to apologize for bumping into you? Hopefully you stabbed him in the eye in true New York Style. Some people have nerve huh?

I would prefer to repress my hostilty at "the world not moving fast enough" and get on with things. I lived there in the late 80's and don't recall the type of hostility that seems to be almost relished by some people.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:56 PM on June 22, 2003

Nobody moves to cities like New York or London for peace, quiet, and the milk of human kindness, KevinSkomsvold.
posted by influx at 4:06 AM on June 23, 2003

I've found the whole NYC crowds thing to be a bit overstated since I got here. Yes, there are a lot of people, but not THAT many people. But then, I've been to ten Mardi Gras in New Orleans, been overseas, and played on the Vegas Strip a lot, so perhaps my expectations are atypical. I think everyone who has bumped into me (or, indeed, who I've bumped into) has apologized politely. And I have yet to be stabbed in the eye.
posted by rushmc at 4:44 AM on June 23, 2003

Yes, I thought much the same thing when I visited New York - the "big city-ness" seems hugely overstated. London is far busier, and seems to run at a quicker pace than NYC.

The same goes for the attitude of the inhabitants. The people in NYC seemed to be, on the whole, friendly and open. Thats far from the case with London.
posted by influx at 4:49 AM on June 23, 2003 thing that I always notice in London is how incredibly quiet everyone is on the Tube -- like you could hear a pin drop during rush hour.

That's why Harry Potter became such an 'adult' phenomenon, I think. People who wouldn't normally read (apart from the Evening Standard, which, as Jeremy Hardy once said, is what London has instead of a newspaper) can quite happily flip through J.K.'s latest on the Northern Line and so avoid eye contact. Or thinking about the fact that they're on the fucking Northern Line.
posted by riviera at 5:45 AM on June 23, 2003

I disagree about the percussion in the subway. Way better than the old hippies doing covers of tired old songs on their acoustics. And if they really get going, the drummers can be awesome.

When I go to london, I feel like an american - loud, obnoxious, overly friendly... I don't think of myself like that when I'm home, but I notice the difference when I'm over there.

Yes, I thought much the same thing when I visited New York - the "big city-ness" seems hugely overstated.

It's just the only american city that can really be considered a city by world standards. boston, SF, DC, etc are big towns.
posted by mdn at 5:51 AM on June 23, 2003

Rules of the NYC subway (as explained to me in less polite language over the years):

1.) Give pregnant women, handicapped people and the elderly your seat. Always. Right away.

2.) say "excuse me" if you want someone to move and "sorry" after you've pushed them out of the way. Don't mix these up.

3.) PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't stand right in front of the open subway door when people are trying to get out. please. The angry people that you'll see are angry with you.

4.) If there are people behind you waiting to enter the train, don't take one step into the car and then stop.

5.) Similarly, if there is a big line of people on the stairs leaving the subway station, please don't stop as soon as you get to the top step to look around, put up your umbrella, gawk at all the people looking at you from the stairs, etc.

Most of these rules can be summed up by one statement, though: get the *$^# out of the way.
posted by n9 at 9:28 AM on June 23, 2003

And the one golden rule: If you have a backpack, try and work out where the fuck you're going before entering the underground. This year I'm going to take a cattleprod with me.

I've always found New Yorkers to be way more polite and helpful than Londoners (where I live). I was once lost in NYC and took out my tourist map to work out where I was. Two guys came over and asked if I was lost. When I told them I wasn't they replied "OK, I'll quiz ya".

If anyone in London sees a tourist obvioulsy lost they just give a little cheer.
posted by ciderwoman at 2:50 PM on June 23, 2003

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