Q: Why is everyone in New York so mean? I just moved here for the MBA program and I was totally shocked by how cold and unhelpful everyone is.
A: What, do you expect all 8 million people in the city to go out of their way to be nice to you? Guess what, nobody cares about you.
We don’t know you. We don’t want to deal with you. Get over it.
New Yorkers have mastered the art of operational efficiency – we want to do what we have to do and be where we want to be, right when we want to. Being nice is a waste of time because it won’t get us any closer to what we want quickly. Chances are we won’t see you again ever, so why bother? Just get out of our way.
This is an inherent understanding that we have, and if you are living here you are expected to adapt to that, immediately. To act otherwise is to question the natural order, which is not remotely your right because you are outnumbered 8 million to 1.
Stop provoking the angry bears who don’t like having their time wasted.
Q: How do I handle all of the people trying to stop me in the street?
A: First of all, you should have already mastered an I’m-walking get-out-of-my-face-now death stare if you’re going to attempt the streets here – I’m going to assume you haven’t if people are stopping you, so go work on that. Executed correctly, it should prevent you from being bothered by 98.3% of chatty tourists and panhandlers in the first place. If anyone says “Excuse me, can I ask you a question?” walk away immediately. Do not engage in any form of conversation because they are trying to trick you into buying a sketchy product or trap you into an irrelevant existentialist conversation.
(Note: The ONLY acceptable way to ask for directions is to just ask straight up, and any tourist who doesn’t know this automatically deserves it if you give them the death stare and leave.)
Getting rid of the overly-eager clipboard chasers, however is a special case. Crossing the street to avoid them is cowardly and will mark you as a future target, so it’s important to establish your sidewalk real estate dominance by walking by and actively ignoring and gesturing for them to get out of your way. If the clipboard actually violates your personal space bubble, it is acceptable etiquette to knock it out of the offender’s hand. (Please except the Planned Parenthood people as they will hopefully reduce the prevalence of strollers on my block next year.)
Have a question for our resident Grumpy New Yorker? Write in to the Oppy at Oppy@stern.nyu.edu and we’ll be sure to get it answered.