Advice for Non-New Yorkers on Surviving New York City

This is very wrong.

Granted, I’ve only lived in the city for 3 years, which is really nothing, but I figured I’d impart my ever-growing knowledge of living in New York City. I wouldn’t call myself a “New Yorker”, per se, however, my ex-roommate who has lived in the city her whole life called me a “New Yorker”, so naturally, its gone to my head ever since. Being a New Yorker is a title you earn – not only with the years you rack up living here, but also the money you throw away on rent, etc. and the amount of times you’ve stepped in human piss, or have been burned by a “real estate agent”. More on what it means to be a Twenty-Something New Yorker later… (still accepting submissions/anecdotes via email, by the way!). Regardless, from me, to you, here’s some advice on surviving NYC if you’re not yet a “New Yorker” (this is particularly for my best friend visiting me from Hawaii in a few weeks).

WALK. Seriously. Walk fast. Respect the sidewalk rules. For all intents and purposes any walk way / escalator etc. has the same functioning rules as a freeway. No stopping; Pass on the left; Stay to the right… you grandma.

Don’t stop. Just don’t do it.

Dont look up What the fuck is up there that you need to be staring at the sky? Oh, right, the buildings? You’ll see plenty of them. Trust. I constantly see tourists gazing at the sky or stopping in the goddamn middle of the sidewalk to look at the goddamn Empire State Building. Do you know what kind of a clusterfuck you cause? You should be more concerned about stepping in dog shit.

Hail a cab the right way. Know what the light on/off means. Do not upstream people. Especially the elderly. If you’re hailing a cab and so is an older couple, you should give them your cab, always.

Do not make eye contact with strangers. I don’t care if they’re addressing you or approaching you. Or are trying to make aggressive eye contact with you. Do not look make any eye contact. Not with the guys selling their CDs on the street, especially not with ANYONE on the subway.

Don’t give money to the homeless. Most New Yorkers have had plenty of stories of how they’ve gotten burned. You live and you learn. I ONCE gave money to a guy outside of Grand Central Station and IMMEDIATELY regretted it as soon as the singles I had on me left my hand. You’re supposed to feel good about giving money away, right? Not in NYC.

One time on the L I almost got kicked in the face by one of these guys.

Street performers / folk = not on your register. This is brutal to say. I’m sorry. The Catholic school girl inside me just died a little bit, but its a huge mistake I see all the time. Tourists cheering on the L train subway performers only to find themselves being harassed for money. If a lunatic fringe is making a scene nearby, ignore it. If you do turn around and look, you make yourself open to being a target for their next lunatic rampage.

Just ignore it. I don’t care if you don’t like being cat-called, or if someone yells something derogatory to you… just ignore it. It’s better to do so than instigate anything, be it a fight or a conversation. Make like a raincoat and let it roll off.

Public transportation etiquette is essential:

  1.  If an elderly / pregnant woman enters your vicinity give up your seat. If they’re semi close to you, also give up your seat and make surrounding people feel like shit because they didn’t think to do so.
  2.  Despite what people do (queue up for the bus/train) there are no lines. Its every man for himself.
  3.  Let people off the train before getting on.
  4.  Don’t be that person and fucking block the subway door. Everyone’s got somewhere to go and does not need to be held up by your idiocy.
  5.  Take your goddamn backpack off in a crowded car.
  6. NEVER EVER get into an empty subway car. There’s a reason it’s being avoided. Don’t do that to yourself.
  7.  Refer to train lines by their letters or numbers. ie) I take the 6 train to/from work. Do not refer to train lines by their colors. Person A: I take the green line to/from work. Person B: What the fuck? Who are you, you mongrel.

$1 pizza is always good. I don’t care. Always. Any time.

Ditch your maps. Don’t pull out a map. It screams I’M VULNERABLE AND LOST! Jump me please. Also, they have apps for that. Maps are so archaic.

Houston. It’s pronounced HOW-sten, not HUE-sten.

Understand New York – it’s a state and a city, but in the city there are 5 boroughs. Most likely you will be in Manhattan most of the time. When people say, “the city” they are talking about Manhattan.

Don’t freak out over celebrities. Don’t try to talked in hushed tones, they know you’re talking about them. Being a New Yorker is owning nonchalance.

Crossing lights are irrelevant. You don’t have to wait for the light to turn red / the walk sign to come on. Cross when you want. Just double check for cars. And if a car is coming, then don’t fucking stop in the middle of the street like a deer in the literal headlights

What heaven looks like.

Don’t buy a fucking bagel from some chain. With places like Russ & Daughters and handmade bagels literally at every corner, you’re wasting your life and tastebuds and caloric count on inferior bagels.

Lox & bagels. Superior to anything. Eat.

Also, EAT. DO NOT come to New York City on a diet. I’m going to be honest and frank with you because clearly you aren’t being honest with yourself so someone has to, but you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Public bathrooms are a no-go. They are your worst enemy. Starbucks? Why don’t you just submerge yourself into a rank, disease laden hell? (You’ll have to wait like a half hour before doing so, too) Just no.

Check the goddamn weather. It’s the worst when you’re enjoying a Spring day and all of a sudden it starts monsooning and you’re inadequately prepared. Then you see someone walk by with an umbrella and LL Bean duck boots and you think, Well sheeeeeit, I should’ve checked the weather. Don’t let that be you.

Order your coffee right. There’s ”regular” (milk with two sugars), black, and light  – not some decaf-half-decaf-frappe-double-whip-bullshit.

Squirrels aren’t cute. Just like the subway performers and street musicians, do not pay attention to them.

Don’t like talk about how much you love it here while in public. It’s embarrassing. In the same breath, don’t talk about how hard/nice it would be to raise kids in the city. It’s unnecessary and no one cares.


One Comment

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  1. The Sartorial Coquette May 8, 2014 — 23:11

    haha i can attest as a fellow new yorker that these are awesome tips!! and i would add the following: when wearing heels, do not step into the subway grates…

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