New Yorkers Aren't Rude. They're Efficient.
By jacqueline.allain on January 16, 2012
A few years ago, after a month-long summer vacation in the quiet, peaceful Nova Scotia, where I have family, I deboarded a plane at LaGuardia Airport and set out to find out which bus would take me to the subway. I was tired and spaced out, but I eventually found it, and when I got on, opened my wallet to pull out the $2.25 fare, scrounging for quarters and nickels amidst a pile of Canadian money. After about two minutes of holding up the bus to find my fare, I heard someone yell from the back, "Hurry the hell up!"
Nothing says "welcome home" like being told to hurry up by an impatient MTA rider on his way home from work. I wasn't offended; I was happy! That's New York, for you. People aren't shy to say what they think. It's not rudeness--okay, maybe a little, but it's not needless rudeness-- it's efficiency. It keeps you on your toes.
You never realize how much of a New Yorker you are until you leave New York. Who has time to wait for the light? If I can without getting hit, you bet I'm crossing. Stand in the middle of the sidewalk like an idiot, and I guarantee you, you will get pushed.
Another thing about New Yorkers: they don't forgive and forget easily. I remember talking to a woman recently who was recounting a benign breach of subway etiquette she had experienced a few weeks before. The problem had been that another woman was sitting too close to her. "Don't you think that's weird?" she asked, and I, tipsy on eggnog and wine, started laughing. "Only a New Yorker would care this much about something so small."
Don't get me wrong-- it's not all roses. Hearing people talk just for the sake of hearing themselves can get on your nerves (Drunk man to cashier: "This was $2.25 and you charged me $2.00. If I wasn't so honest I wouldn't a said nothing. Other people would would'a let that go. You're lucky I'm honest, man. You gotta be careful. You're lucky I'm so honest.") But the good news is, people are reluctant to shut their mouths in the face of injustice. Whenever I hear that New Yorkers are rude, I think of the time I was sitting in the back of the M15 bus and a pregnant woman with a stroller was standing in the front. A woman standing near me started yelling, "I can't believe this. No one's giving her their seat! No man, woman, or child is giving her a seat. I can't believe this," for about five minutes. It turns out that the pregnant woman had turned down multiple offers, but the good Samaritan was persistent. "No man, woman, or child!" she kept muttering.
When I hear that New Yorkers are rude, I think of the time a man tried to steal a woman's purse and about ten old Polish ladies started beating him with their pocketbooks as he fell to the ground.
When I hear that New Yorkers are rude, I think of all the people who have pulled out their iPhones when I've asked for directions.
When I hear that New Yorkers are rude, I think of the man who turned down my offer of a dollar when I asked him for a cigarette. "Us smokers are a persecuted group," he said. "We have to stick together."
When I hear that New Yorkers are rude, I think of all the interesting conversations-- drunken and sober-- I've had with strangers.
When I hear that New Yorkers are rude, I think of the Hassidic Jewish men who stood at the foot of the bridge on September 11th, handing out bottles of water to weary travelers from Manhattan.
As long as you stand out of their way and don't block traffic, New Yorkers aren't rude. They're efficient. There's a big difference! Here's a toast to the greatest city in the world and the people who make it what it is.
College student, future history teacher, and feminist.