Sunday, 18 July 2010

thoughts on the people of NYC

Okay, so let me just start by saying that this is not an exhaustive list/post by any means.
I've been here for almost 3 months and my time here- for this part- is near an end.
But I have to say, being a tourist in New York and living here are really completely different things.
As a tourist, you mix with other tourists and rarely participate in the average New Yorker way of life, that said.
I have to say even coming from London, and having lived in California, I have found New York to be a particularly tough city.. perhaps because I'm getting used to so much here, but also the experiences I've had in a relatively short amount of time.
I am loathe to base my whole opinion of a whole city on just a few people, so am still being open.
But to give you an example...
When I arrived and taken aback with people- strangers- yelling,  (I'm sure thought they were simply 'talking with passion') on the street at each other, describing exactly why, with profanity, that they were angry with each other, I was constantly being issued a cliche line by my boyfriend and his friends 'welcome to New York' as they laughed it off.
I was adamant that not all New Yorkers, surely would be that way.
Then the guy who set up my cable/telephone and Internet, who is a born and bred New Yorker, told me himself, after we got talking.. that if I went to other parts of the US people will be much more polite, much kinder and life is that much nicer (this is my experience of California, Nantucket, Miami and Boston).. he said  "there's a reason why Frank Sinatra sings, 'If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere', it's because this city is so damn rude and people are so tough"... he wanted to move to San Diego, but his wife's family was here.
Since then I've had a very jumped up 'super' the maintenance man who manages my building, that I'd rather avoid than deal with the manners of the lazy urchin that he is, the stroppy unkind nurse who was supposed to understand people who are ill, and incredulously, the woman who pushed my back to get past me in the laundry room because I moved a second too slow for her to get the machine. (reminded me of the episode in friends- with Rachel having to get mean with that woman who was stealing her basket). Add to this extremely arsey sales people, pharmacists, waiters, here can feel like you have to have your guard up all the time.
I have met one very kind New Yorker too, who I talked with for the first time three hours non-stop, she's a fellow journalist and was introduced by another mutual friend/journalist, so perhaps this is why she seemed the exception.
I'll add more 'people' stories as we go.. 
But I'd be interested to hear other people's a local, rather than a tourist..


  1. Oh trust me, we're not all that rude though we're certainly capable of it if you push the right (or wrong?) buttons. Yes, it's a bit tough and gritty here and I feel it's due to the stereotype we feel we need to keep up and because everyone else can be so rude. It's contagious and you often would rather be rude than be pushed around. Some people don't know when to give up the facade and others know when to be nice and when to throw down. Sorry the city was a bit of a "rude" awakening for you. I do hope you decide to return as it was wonderful to get to meet you :)

  2. Bless your heart Dorkys!! you give me hope :) x

  3. I'm a Londoner and have been living in the city for 6 months now. It astounds me how loud new yorkers are - i miss peace and quiet on the tube - there is nowhere you can go to get away from the constant noise and aggression! My impression is that New Yorkers are kinda like Londoners minus the Ps and Qs - consistently in a rush and appear unfriendly with no time for anybody... but if you interrupt their usual routine and catch them off guard, they are friendly and interested (maybe it's because of our London accents? I wonder how we'd be received if we had a foreign accent that was less 'admired' in the states.). It does seem more difficult to make real friends here rather than just acquaintances though - is it just because we have a different sense of humour? a lot is lost in translation, which i didnt expect.

  4. Hi Britasian, yes, I absolutely get what you mean about the lost in translation thing! I too am looking forward to meeting real friends, be interesting to know how you get on!I'll keep you posted via this! :)

  5. Not all New Yorker's are rude all the time...but I catch myself sometimes fitting the bill. When I am working in the city I usually have my guard up and as my German friends put it "very German" in being cold to people. If you caught me while off work and just mulling around I would be much friendlier and not rushing and being rude. This also with the fact that living in New York you start to get sick of tourists. I'm not sure why but you just do.

  6. Thanks 'Anonymous' for the comment.
    I agree if you're rushing around for work you dont have time to stop and chat, that's not what I mean at all.
    I just meant there have been times and occasions I've seen what I think to be rude, and it's brushed off.
    Or when I am rude back, people somehow treat me better(?!)
    I'm doing my best though to stay who I am, and I have met some really nice people since this post at work things, so maybe it's time for an update soon!
    I'm from London, so I deff get the tourist thing, but hey they make our cities rich and our economies thrive, so I guess we have to love 'em too, right. :)

  7. I'm from London and recently visited my Irish friend who has just moved to NY with her family. I was really surprised at how nice the people were. Getting around Manhattan with a baby in a buggy (or should I say stroller?) is tricky but lots of men offered to help us carry it on the stairs. One night we got lost and asked a woman what road we were on, she went completely out of her way to get her iphone out and make sure we were going in the right direction. Maybe my expectations are really low but I thought it was really nice.

  8. Deb's sounds like you met a lot of nice people,that is great :) like Dorky's says it's a stereotype, but perhaps- without a cute baby to disarm people,people have their guard up.
    I'm glad people were so nice!!

  9. I live in London but my dream is to move and live in New York. However, what I’ve read here scares the hell out of me. Please tell me is not really that bad!?

  10. Ella, this one is for you...

  11. Hi - this is fascinating reading. I have friends and family in NY and have visited several times. I have witnessed outright rudeness, but also, people who were prepared to go the extra mile. Also much humour. The smiles were however, wiped off my face in one case, when my teenage daughter and I were separated from my husband, thanks to Virgin Airlines overbooking! An upgrade to First Class put us in a better mood. But trepidation set in again at JFK, with an official who barked that we required all details for immigration. In the mayhem, some info stayed in the hands of my husband and we could not get in touch with him. The day was saved by a very kind immigration official, who helped us fill in any blanks. She insisted on waiting with us, as it was the end of her shift, until family arrived to pick us up! Was she enamoured of the accent? Probably, but she certainly did much to redeem the perception of the 'rude New Yorker'!