Diaries of a Native New Yorker: Please Understand Us

New Yorkers are often misunderstood to be hostile, black or white, aggressive, and hardhearted individuals. Often enough, it is a reputation upheld by New Yorkers because of the presumptions and failures to understand them on a deeper level.Why are New Yorkers often misunderstood? It’s because our culture is very different and most people do not understand that New Yorkers have rules of their own. We often forget that, depending on where we grow up, each region has its own rule of courtesy that we must adapt to.

Generally, in the Northeast, the atmosphere is very rushed and more serious than that of the West coast. In the Northeast, people are often more rigid and less accommodating to traditional courtesy, simply because we understand that time can often be against us. If you’ve ever been to New York, natives do not often walk around idly, we avoid tourist traps like a plague, and walking is not in our dictionary. More often than not, brisk walking is a normal, acceptable pace. Anything slower than that and you’re wasting our time. Living expenses are high, commuter expenses on a daily basis are also hard on the wallet. Any bit of kindness in New York goes a long way because native New Yorkers understand how difficult it is to slow down. Time is most certainly money. Natives learn this when we become more involved in city life and continuously tack on responsibilities. Even before we reach the age of adulthood, we see this way of life everywhere.

The reason why New Yorkers often get upset can be easily understood. When you break a rule of implied conduct, most people would look at you like you are either crazy or being rude by interfering with their way of life. Don’t get me wrong, natives do understand that you aren’t from here, but to us, it makes complete sense why we do the things that we do.

Common Things Misunderstood By Tourists and New York Implants

  • Always stay to your right side when walking up or down the stairs/escalator.

You cannot believe how much of a time waster it is when people walk up the left side of the stairwell, especially when it is extremely narrow. If one person ends up staying to the left, you end up causing a traffic jam for the people trying to get through. HUGE pet peeve for New Yorkers.

  • If you’re lost or are taking pictures and want to stop, move to the side of the street, AWAY from the general public.

Move to the side of the street, please. If we are trying to get somewhere on time, natives hate it when you are the very reason that they are late to their meeting or appointment. Again, time is money and you’re certainly slowing us down. It makes sense to move aside so do us all that favor! 🙂

  • If we hold the door for you and you say “Thank You”, most of us just acknowledge by saying “mmhm”. BE GRATEFUL.

First off , if someone took the liberty to hold the door for you and they acknowledge you with the most terse response, understand that it is not rude. We simply just don’t have the time to say “you’re welcome”. That is our way of saying “don’t worry about it, just go”.

  • New Yorkers push and shove, don’t take it personally. We have places to go.

In terms of etiquette, we do push and shove. Who wouldn’t in a packed train or a crowd full of people? Again, if you’re slowing down and walking ever so slowly, it will nerve us. We have places to go.

  • Do not wear a Red Sox Logo ANYWHERE in NY

We do take pride in the Yankees, and often enough, it is pure suicide to wear anything that has to do with the Red Sox anywhere in NYC. Don’t do it, you will get a lot of glaring eyes and it will not be fun for us or yourself.

  • J-Walking is part of our culture. Use it when you’re in the city, but don’t be mindless about it.

Natives often J-walk everywhere they go because it is a hassle waiting for every walk sign. The trick to being able to do it comfortably is when one person starts moving, everyone starts to move with them. If you want to cross safely without waiting for the light, just wait for one of us to walk and it’s a clear sign it is OK. WARNING: this does NOT work in other states. I’ve tried it and almost got ran over. I don’t trust other states and their J-Walking judgments.

If you come to accept this about New York culture, then it will help you understand we are that bad at all. In fact, if you ever need directions, most people in New York do not mind helping you. If you need a seat on the subway, chances are if you ask someone, they will give it to you.

Also, New Yorkers wear mostly monochromatic attire because it is easy on the eyes. It is also considered classy, simple, and elegant. Don’t get me wrong, we do wear brighter colors as well, but it is just part of our way of life. It goes with the environment and ambiance. In fact, those colors often give off and convey our city vibe and culture. So please, before you start hating and treat New York understand it and respect it like you would do for any country or cultural group. We are not bad at all.


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