Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nice New Yorkers

I think that the notion that all New Yorkers are gruff, rude, and impatient is ill-conceived. I've only been here a few months, granted, but I would like to present the people of my new home in a different light: as NICE, but efficient, people.

I mean, if you're blocking the stairs out of the subway and you're moving slowly, you're gonna hear about it. If the light turns green and you're not hitting the gas, you're going to hear about it. But really these reactions are in response to the intense pressure of WORKING in this city. On time is late, five minutes early is on time. In a city where there are 500 people waiting, capable and eager, to do your job, you can't be late.

That being said, I have yet to encounter a situation where I was in need of help and unable to find it. Quite the opposite actually. If I'm lost, there's smiling face willing to point me in the right direction. If I don't know how something works, there's someone there to explain it to me. If I find myself in a situation where I don't speak the language (which happens frequently in my neighborhood) there's always someone stepping forward to help translate. I've had a complete stranger hand me a coupon I can use in the store, and I've seen a hurried businessman stop to help a homeless person get their cart out of a pothole. My first trip to a real NY pizza joint ended up with the owner's daughter sitting down at a table with me, explaining to me how to 'order a slice' without sounding like a tourist! This city is full of amazing people that, like me, were once new and lost in this big metropolis.

Now, I'm not naïve... I know that there are bad people everywhere. My best friend got hit by a car a few weeks ago while riding his bike, and while the paramedics were loading him into the back of the ambulance, somebody ran up and stole his bike. Upon hearing that story a lot of people respond with "Only in New York..." to which I say "You've clearly never been to Detroit." But the guy who hit him? He chased the thief for many blocks, eventually hopping in a cab when he couldn't run any farther... (he never caught him.) The paramedics and the staff in the ER were sympathetic, and my friend's employer even gave him a bonus towards a new bike!

So for someone like me I suppose the choice is simple. I can choose to believe in the inherent goodness of people, and continue to see them around me everyday... or I can become a cynic, so paranoid of the evils that lurk that I can't see the good. I choose the former... this 'concrete jungle' is cold and dreary enough without me dragging it down further.

1 comment:

melissa said...

I dont' live in NYC but I've done projects there these last two years and I was totally gobsmacked by how nice everyone was. OH don't get me wrong there isn't lame weather small talk on the train but I loved that your space is respected, that in shops and diners people visit and chat, everyone is polite and if they aren't polite you just ignore them, it's totally heaven. Nicer than the small town I actually live a lot of the time, where people ignore your personal space and look at anyone who looks slightly different as if they are aliens :)

I got a great vibe everywhere I shot :)