You hear people say it all the time: “New Yorkers are crazy.”
Yes, perhaps a little, but as a born and raised New Yorker, I can tell you why that is. NYC didn’t become the country’s very own Bellevue by bringing the crazy over from elsewhere; on the contrary, I believe it merely trained us to be a little crazy.
If you have managed to not get trampled in the stampede of people running from the 6 train to Metro North, or not run over by a Citi Bike while crossing the street, then pat yourself on the back.
You think that’s an easy feat? It’s not. What’s worse, these things have become the norm for us, creating stress, anxiety and impatience like no other. So, to us, it’s the status quo of everyday life, but to the rest of society, it means we’re crazy.
Here are some of the very esoteric NYC grievances I have compiled over the years, broken down into three categories: people, places and things.
1. People who not only walk slow, but can’t walk in a straight line on the sidewalk. You want to get around them, but they keep changing direction, so you end up strafing left and right until you find an opening. It’s like Call of Duty, except you can’t throw grenades at anyone.
2. People who cannot use the Metrocard machine. I don’t know what happens here that turns normal, literate people into idiots from 1979. Have you never seen a touch screen machine before? Is this technology new to you? Can you not read? The buttons and instructions are pretty clear. You should be able to do this in under a minute. Efficiency is key to being a real New Yorker.
3. People who yell-talk on the train. Yelk, if you will. Commuting is a bitch most of the time as it is. The entire train doesn’t need to hear about your new Pilates class or your totes awesome date last night.
4. People who aren’t sure if they’re on the train. They are half-in and half-out, so the doors can’t close and reopen seven or eight times. Your foot being in the car doesn’t mean your ass is, too. This is a full body awareness lesson. Bonus: These people are usually the same ones who HUG the pole.
5. People who ask you to move inside the train more during rush hour. Buddy, you think if there were extra space, I would ACTIVELY avoid it?? Just chill.
6. People who masturbate in public. Seriously, live here long enough and you’ll see this at least once. I’ve seen it about three times — all homeless males — and it’s pretty disturbing. Penn Station is a hotbed for this activity by the way, giving you yet another reason to avoid it.
1. Whole Foods. This place is equivalent to traffic lights, in case you haven’t noticed. There’s the waiting, the changing colors, the anxiety of choosing the wrong lane and the impatient people behind you. THEY JUST NEED TO GET THEIR QUINOA. It’s rough, but we do it; we do it for the buffet and the cheese selection.
2. Herald Square Macy’s, during the holidays. The crowds are intense, the place is unorganized and you will probably get sprayed in the eye with perfume that smells like flowers and toilet mints. Whatever you do, stay away from this area between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
3. Times Square. Literally everything about it. The tourists who stop in the middle of the street to read maps, the awful food, the Disney characters on every corner and the people who are trying to get money out of you. Those last two are interchangeable, by the way.
4. Penn Station. The difference between Penn Station and Grand Central is outrageous. Grand Central is opulent and well-kept. Penn Station is like a big bathroom, complete with fluorescent lighting and food on the floor. To further prove my point, Grand Central has the Apple Store and Baked by Melissa cupcakes. Penn Station has Kmart and McDonald’s. Enough said.
5. Nightclubs. If you’re a guy without any girls in tow, just go home because you’re not getting in. And, if you’re a girl wearing flats and showing no cleavage, you might as well go home, too. I don’t make the rules, but that’s usually how it goes. Promoters are your only somewhat-saving grace here, as they can hook you up for free entry and some free drinks.
That said, you will likely be sharing said drinks with 12 other people, and promoters typically gauge your level of attractiveness as a prerequisite for their services.
1. The MTA, when it rains or snows. Not only are trains apparently afraid of water (signal problems), but everyone loses their sense of direction and coordination, turning the terminals into one giant poor man’s production of “Singing in the Rain.”
2. Bikes. All of a sudden, they are everywhere, including ON the train. Missing the point a bit here, no? I am sure there are exceptions sometimes, but you don’t see me bringing a Prius on the M15, now do you?
3. Cabs. The best and worst thing that has ever happened to New Yorkers. That little light on top glows in your eyes when you need one, as if they were sent down from heaven. Then, God forbid, if one drives by with its light on and doesn’t stop, you start screaming obscenities at them while standing alone in the street. Why, hello, crazy person. Nice to see you again.
4. Apartments. Probably the biggest and final grievance of every New Yorker. All you people who live in Kansas, Florida, Iowa and basically any other state in the US, you have no idea how good you have it.
You pay $600/month for a three-bedroom, two-bath, elevator building, washer/dryer, central air, gym, pool, maid service, heliport-clad apartment. We pay $3200/month for a one-bedroom, one-bath, half-window, five-floor walk-up in Chinatown apartment, with no AC or cable.
But, you know why we do? It’s two blocks from Katz’s Deli! Location, location, location! In NYC, disposable income < pastrami, which is ironic because you need roughly $40 to have a reuben and latkes at Katz’s, anyway.