“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” – Tom Wolfe
New York, like any city, is distinct in its ways; it’s the fury of activity, the masses of people, and the summer stench that seems to grip the city from the months of July through September that makes New York, New York. Whether you’ve been here for three months or 30 years, you learn the customs of the city and the lay of the land fairly quickly and unnoticeably. Since my move to the Big Apple just six years ago, I’ve noticed I’m adapting more New York customs and losing all of the “southern charm” my parents raised me with. And because it’s been pointed out to me so many times, I’ve compiled a list of things that New Yorkers do differently than anybody else.
1. The farther, the better
Whether it be a park bench, a subway car or even browsing the racks of H&M, don’t get too close. In a city that is already lacking personal space, New Yorkers ironically demand an awful lot of it. Rule of thumb: if there is an empty seat next to someone — don’t sit in it, or if you do, try and take up as little space as possible.
*Especially in elevators: there’s nothing worse than being in a huge elevator and having somebody stand right next to you. It’s even worse when they try and make small talk. Make it stop.
2. Silence is golden
An essential for any New Yorker is a good set of headphones. The headphones’ purpose is not only to block noise, but block any possible chatter as well. This can include, but is not limited to, small talk in the elevator of your building, on the platform of the subway and even in your office during the day.
3. Life is always in the fast lane
I cannot tell you how much it pains me to walk around the streets of New York. And not because I don’t enjoy sightseeing or get tired of walking, but the pace at which New Yorkers walk is actually exhausting. They don’t walk around the city; they lightly jog, some even run – to work, dinner, the grocery store, everywhere! I’m not sure why exactly but I’d like to think it has something to do with the train schedules. I know this personally because I’m always running late.
4. It’s never too late for dinner
Open up your Seamless right now and see how many restaurants deliver in your area (currently 56). When I go home to the burbs, it’s only pizza and Chinese after 10:30 p.m. However, in the land of the East Village, you can get hot cookies at 10 p.m., biscuits at 1 a.m. (shout out to Empire Biscuit), and Papaya Dog whenever you want. A friend of mine recently told me about her drunken Seamless experience in which she ordered not only pizza, but sushi as well after a rowdy night. She has since deleted Seamless from her phone.
5. Every day I’ m hustling
The single largest difference I have noticed about us city dwellers is the size of our dreams and the extent of the hustle. No one is ever content with where they are. You are in retail but also design your own clothes, or you’re an account executive but also run a food blog. Think of any combination of passions and we’ve probably seen it before. In a city with so many possibilities, it’s hard to stay content when you see that everyone is hustling. It makes you think, why not me?
6. Make it rain
I have never seen a group of humans who will pay $1,500 each for a 3 bedroom apartment totaling 400 square feet and then turn around and complain about paying $5 for a slice of pizza. Pay $1.75 in ATM fees? Hell no. We’d rather walk three avenues and two blocks to the closest Bank of America. But drag us to a bar with $14 drinks? We’ll each take five. There is no explanation for this one. Like every other New York differentiator, it’s just the way things are.