It takes a lot of adjusting to live in the greatest city in the world, and there are some protocols that you should follow if you want to survive in this city. You might be a kind, generous and gentle person in the privacy of your own home, but follow these tips for how to act in public, and within a couple of weeks you will not only feel like a real New Yorker, but look like it to anyone watching.
1. Don’t smile at strangers. It’s weird and disarming.
2. Be aware of others’ personal space. Never sit down right next to someone unless it is the last open seat. When you’re waiting for the train, or anywhere else for that matter, space yourself evenly with other people who are waiting. If you’re on a very crowded train, avert your eyes, listen to your iPod and try to touch those around you as little as possible.
3. Walk down the street avoiding eye contact. Pretend you don’t see anyone else; this helps you stay in your own bubble. Keep this rule especially if you see someone who is homeless, dressed very strangely, openly homosexual, begging, or even busking (unless they’re very good).
4. Don’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk to take photos. The locals have jobs to get to.
5. If you can’t find a parking spot, double park your car. This is your right. If you want to be nice about it, you can put your hazard lights on, plus this helps other cars see yours better so they won’t damage your paint job.
6. If you can’t fit into a parking space, use your car to gently nudge the car behind and in front until you fit.
7. Please feed the rats who live in the subway tunnels by throwing your litter and any extra food bits you don’t want onto the tracks. They appreciate it. (This goes for the streets too. Litter creates jobs.) Oh, and please spit your gum out onto the sidewalk. This makes a nice black polka-dotted pattern on the sidewalks, which adds interest.
8. Courtesy doesn’t get you anywhere. Demand what you want in a loud and aggressive voice. This certainly applies to driving too — claim the part of the road you want by pushing in, and honk out your frustrations.
9. Parents in NYC are morons. Please help them parent their children by telling them what they’re doing wrong and how to fix it, but don’t help them. If they wanted to procreate, they should deal with the consequences.
10. Take it for granted that you live in one of the greatest cities in the world. So what if you have access to the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, Central Park, Broadway, Times Square, countless amazing art museums, 5th Avenue, Coney Island, the Bronx Zoo (to name a very few) just for the price of a subway ride? Treat these as your rights, keep to yourself, and follow the rules above.
Yes, yes, that was tongue-in-cheek. Sort of. There are plenty of helpful, friendly, courteous and kind New Yorkers. Some days it just feels as if they’re hiding.