I’m kind of out of the travel-writing mode, seeing as how I’m not traveling now, nor have I in about two years. But you’d think that, living in New York, I could still make some witty observations on the culture here, right?
I hate New York. I mean, I don’t hate it, because I like that Insomnia Cookie lives here and I appreciate that a nice man on a bicycle will bring me sushi within 30 minutes of ordering it, which I can do pretty much anytime with my handy-dandy Seamless app, and I like that I can get any kind of food or drink I could think of here. Basically, I like New York’s food options.* But the city itself… meh.
First of all, New York is dirty. It is disgusting. The poles to hold on to in the subway cars are always slimy. Like they’ve been coated in petroleum jelly. Explain that to me. And people seem to have no qualms about this. Hand on the pole, hand in your mouth, hand on your food, hand on the pole, on your cell phone, on your child’s face, on the pole. It’s super gross. Plus, it just stinks generally, wherever you go.
People say New Yorkers are rude. After being here for a year, I think I can fairly say that that is not true. I am on the side of most New Yorkers when I say tourists are rude. Not only rude, but in the way. Even if New Yorkers were rude, you try living here and getting to work in one of the biggest tourist destinations in America while some oblivious tourist tries to take a picture of Times Square with his iPhone.
At the same time, why do we allow ourselves to live in a place that makes us so hateful to people, so hateful in fact that the rumor going around about New Yorkers for the past forever is that they’re rude? I mean, what’s the excuse? (I’m not talking about born-and-raised New Yorkers. Stay where you want to, damn it. You’re allowed to believe that New York is the greatest city in the world, because it’s where you’re from.) There are people who believe that Oologah, Oklahoma is the best small town ever and that it’s completely acceptable to swim in its lake. So we’re all allowed our delusions.
But if you’re an implant, probably from the Midwest or the South (hey, neighbor) and you complain about living in New York and how it makes you callous and impatient, I have only this to say: you do it to yourself.
And why? New York is not the greatest city in the world. It is not the greatest city in America. Nothing compares, for sure: New York is New York and that’s all you have to say. But, come on. Do you really need to work in midtown Manhattan? Couldn’t you do your job, and have a better quality of life, somewhere else?
I just don’t understand the draw. Me, I never planned on staying. At 14 I fantasized about living here, not knowing anything about what it’s like to live here and expecting, foolishly, to work in a giant publishing house and wear expensive suits (though in 14-year-old Lauren’s head, they weren’t expensive, they were just pretty) and wear equally pretty/expensive shoes all over the streets of Manhattan, nary a bunion nor blister in sight, and so I thought I’d try to go for it.
That didn’t happen, which is fine, because I realized I really hate heels and I can’t deal with the “energy” here. Why the constant hurry?
I ask, but I think I know why. It’s because everyone’s in a hurry, and you have to be too. It’s like going to a crowded bar and yelling to talk to your friends because it’s so loud. You hate loud bars. But now you’re yelling in a bar, so you’re the asshole you hate.
Or like going to an airport and thinking about how much you hate airports because everyone tries to line up before the boarding call even though you all have assigned seats but then you remember that baggage space is limited so you start to line up so you don’t have to check your bag at the gate even though it’s actually really convenient to check your bag at the gate because you get it back at the gate and don’t have to deal with pulling it through the aisles and hitting all the assholes who are already sitting (who, by the way, look at you like you’re their biggest annoyance because you’re boarding the plane after they’ve gotten comfortable because they got in the boarding call line first like a jerk) or lifting it above your head to put it in storage while people crowd you and stare at you and you worry about dropping it on someone.
It’s like that: living in New York is like complaining about all of the situations you hate, like political apathy and ignorance and impatience and laziness, and then participating in all of those things because sometimes it’s just all you can do to stay sane, but mostly, comfortable.
*And I didn’t even mention Shake Shack, but I also love it for Shake Shack.