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New Yorkers: A midwesterner's take

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  • New Yorkers: A midwesterner's take

    I came to a realization after 3 days in Manhattan. I'm not sure where to begin, so I guess I'll take a stab at what I was expecting and go from there.

    I was expecting a lot of tall buildings with dark haired men with wife-beaters hanging out of windows asking "what I'm lookin' at ya mook." New York seems to have gotten the reputation of rude people with a brooklyn accent or a NJ accent deciding we outsiders don't belong here. Everyone honks at everyone else behind the wheel and it's impossible not to get heartburn just walking between 2 city blocks.

    Far from it.

    I guess I've come to a few truths about this large city.

    New Yorkers deal with about every type of human. Many non-english speaking. They are constantly tested as people cross personal space boundaries, fail to follow instructions, yell at them for what is seen as poor organization or poor service.

    Because of the diversity in this city, they've come to peace with it only by becoming rule based. Everywhere you go, there are rules. Clearly posted, though sometimes too detailed to follow. (Hint:subway)

    New Yorkers are some of the most polite and open people I've met. Yes, I'm from the famous Midwest. I've spent significant time in the south. I had the opinion that New York didn't care for any life outside of their own city, and though that may still be true, there's a damn good reason. What they have here WORKS. They are challenged with an amalgamate of problems. There are outsiders constantly invading their home city. You can't order breakfast without some foreigner messing up the queue.

    The truth is that I've found is that the NY people live by a very simple code:
    1. Learn the rules; ask when you don't understand.
    2. Follow the rules; apologize when you broke one without realizing;
    3. When you don't know the rules, ask.

    The only times I got sternly corrected, or saw someone else honked/yelled at, was when one of those 3 weren't followed. But when you factor in the fact that New York sees so many outsiders on a daily/weekly basis, you develop a sympathy to why they get frustrated.

    Some unwritten rules:
    Don't stop in the middle of the sidewalk. Not a busy one at least.
    Obey the walk/don't walk signs. Traffic is bad enough.
    Don't be a seat hog. Give up your seat to a girl or old person if you're a young healthy man.
    Be polite in the elevator. We're all sharing the same airspace for a bit.

    Want proof? Watch any intersection on Manhattan. Drivers are very respectful when the light is about to turn and the crosswalk has the right-o-way. Sometimes, pedestrians don't return the favor, or other drivers don't press their right of way. At worst, they get a beep of the horn.

    And while I could never live here and kiss my sweet rural areas goodbye, I can honestly say that there's a beauty of this place that the TV screens don't do justice. Standing on the door of liberty island, looking up at the WTC1, the Empire State or Chrysler Bldg, or just enjoying some good ol' dirty Halal cart food at 2 am, this is a city worth enjoying.
    Kudos to you New Yorkers out there. It's a great city to be in, despite the hipsters. I'm glad I was so wrong about you.
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