there are oh so many things about nyc that are so very different and almost foreign to my life experience. we’ve visited the city many times over the last few years, you know – a couple of days at a time and almost exclusively in times square. we had an understanding things would be different – but being here for a solid month (as of today!) we’ve had quite a few surprises.
i thought those things would be interesting to share, so i asked marcus to write about one of the biggest (and most pleasant!) surprises. enjoy! mE
A-holes or A trains? by Marcus Engel (but mE named it! lol)
When I was a print reading fellow (i.e., back in the days before blindness), one of my favorite reading spots was (gasp!) on the toilet. It must have been someone else’s fav spot, too, because somehow Reader’s Digest magazines always found their way to the back of the toilet tank or the basket on the floor.
Back in the late 80s or early 90s, I was doing my bizness and flipping through that month’s edition. There was a story about a campaign to get New Yorkers to become a kinder, gentler lot. I distinctly remember a black and white photo of a pudgy, middle-aged taxi driver yelling and shaking his fist. Under the pic was the caption, “Come On, New York, Ease Up!”
Now, any sociologist and/or economist can tell you that NYC today is very different from NYC of the late 80s and early 90s. Like, somewhere in the early to mid-90s, crime rates just fell through the basement. There are a billion different theories on this that I won’t discuss here, but suffice it to say that I’ve yet to feel unsafe in our new town.
Furthermore, I have yet to meet with any of the attitude that’s been pinned on the Big Apple. In the month (to the day, now) that I’ve been a New Yorker, I can’t think of a single instance of someone being what I’d term as “rude.” No yelling at me/us crossing streets, no mutters under one’s breath, etc. I just haven’t noticed it… and definitely not the kind of ‘tude shown in the photo so long ago.
Does this mean there aren’t A-holes in New York? Duh, no! Those people exist everywhere. And thanks to the law of large numbers and this 8 million population, it’s probably likely there are even more here. Yet, the kindness of New Yorkers, not the crudeness, is what we’ve noticed.
Two days ago, I was standing to cross the street onto Columbia’s campus. As soon as the light changed, a gent to my side said, “Hey buddy, the light’s in our favor.” This doesn’t mean I don’t also use my senses to determine when the safe time to cross is, but I appreciated the gesture. Yesterday, I got a little turned around on a route. After crossing a street I wasn’t sure of, I stopped the first set of footsteps passing me.
“Excuse me, can you tell me what street this is?”
“Morningside Drive. The park is directly in front of you.”
Was that hard? No, but many simply don’t believe New Yorkers can actually be courteous and kind. Life DOES move at a faster clip here, so bluntness may be interpreted as rude, or directness as shallow, but I just don’t see it.
So, don’t believe everything you hear about NYC. It’s not the unsafe place it once was, and the attitude has seemed to have been lost, too.
So, c’mon to NYC! Visit us, have a great time and see why we’re falling in love with this town!