Nina In New York: Rude? Us? Shut Your Mouth.
A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.
By Nina Pajak
So, Travel + Leisure readers. The truth finally comes out. I see how it is. You know, I thought we really had something. For instance, our mutual love of both travel and leisure. But now you’ve gone and ruined it by voting New York City the rudest city in the country (unlike last year, when we came in second).
I mean, I know we put up a tough front. Our reputation is important to us. But it’s not like stuff like this doesn’t hurt our feelings. We’re people too, you know. Nice people (some of us, most of the time). We love our city, and we want everyone else to love it too. We would never be mean just to be mean and risk giving the greatest city in the world a bad name. I think there’s been a misunderstanding.
The thing is, living in our city—many cities, really—means living at a faster pace. We are busybusybusy, and on top of that everything we do takes a little longer. We have to walk places and wait for subways and buses. We have to endure crowds of people to get to work while you’re listening to your morning drivetime team of radio buffoons. Our stores are smaller, and therefore lines are longer. We walk fast and talk fast because we are always on the go, we know what we want and we understand that there is absolutely no reason to stop in a massive moving crowd on Fifth Ave to take a picture of an Abercrombie + Fitch store which you have seen in every mall in America.
I talk to my neighbors and people in stores and taxi drivers and fellow restaurant patrons when appropriate, but I don’t go around smiling at everyone like a lobotomized idiot. If you are lost, I have no doubt that nine out of ten of us will give you directions or help you read your subway map. If you are having difficulty communicating in English and you speak a language I know, I will attempt to facilitate. But I will also give you a gentle (not so gentle) nudge if you take too long figuring out your change while I’m waiting for your cab. We’re not so bad! We just want you to move a little faster on the sidewalk. Did it ever occur to you that perhaps we’re not as rude as you are slow? No offense or anything. But, just saying.
The big secret is, you love it. Just like everyone likes to go to Paris and get metaphorically spat on by some sneering Parisian so that they can come home sounding worldly and wise with their reports on French rudeness, our brusque, non-nonsense, high-speed manner is all part of the charm. Please, like you’re going to start spending more time in Salt Lake City just because they don’t yell “EXCUSE ME” while trying to shove you out of a subway car? I know how much you probably like saying things to your friends like, “Oh, last time we were in New York we discovered a great little Italian place in the West Village. Totally a hidden gem hole-in-the-wall locals only, we’ll have to give you the address. I think we saw Kiefer Sutherland there one time but it could have been just a guy. He’s sober now, right?” You can’t hide from me. You love us. And secretly, we love you. Just, hurry it up a little.
Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.
Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.
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