10 Things About New York City From A Guy Who's Definitely Not From New York City


I was in New York City for two days last week. I was also there for a couple days in February, 36 hours or so in 2013, and for three days in 2012.

By all accounts, this makes me a New York City expert. And, since I'm a New York City expert, I feel completely comfortable sharing a few observations about the city that are definitely true and definitely not biased or misinformed in any way.

1. New Yorkers are known for being rude and inconsiderate assholes. I've found this to be untrue.


I'd even say that, on an individual level, New Yorkers actually tend to be (gasp) nicer than the people I interact with in most other cities. Perhaps I've just been lucky enough to encounter some accommodating-ass New Yorkers, but whether I needed directions or recommendations on the best breakfast food within walking distance or recommendations on the best tacos within walking distance, they've generally been both extremely helpful and extremely willing to help.

I honestly think the asshole reputation just comes from the fact that everyone moves and talks so fast. Which can give off the impression of rudeness, but it doesn't seem to be rudeness. They're just busy. It — and the general sense of being unbothered — also seems to be a protection mechanism. There are a sizable number of legitimately crazy people in that city, and moving slowly or being too outwardly sensitive can be an invitation for them to introduce you to their crazy.

2. If it's the winter, New York City is colder than wherever you are.

And by "if it's the winter" I mean "if it's any month other than July or August." It is always (always!) at least 10 degrees colder in NYC than it was wherever you came from to get there. And the weather is deceptive, because you assume a New York 30 degrees is going to feel like a Pittsburgh 30 degrees. But a Pittsburgh 30 is actually a New York 45. And a New York 30 is actually a Pittsburgh -7.


3. Collectively, New York City cab drivers are either the worst or the best drivers on Earth.

I still haven't quite figured out which one. All I know is that every time I'm in a cab, I get in at least 17 near accidents, but I can't tell if they're caused by the driver's recklessness or if they're only just near accidents because the drivers are so great at the kamikaze driving that seems to be a job requirement for a New York city cab driver. I've never not felt like I was in a scene from The Transporter.


That said…

4. Catching cabs in New York City is a stupid fucking thing to do.

I had two appointments in the city last week. One of the appointments was a block away from my hotel, so I walked. The other appointment was in a different neighborhood, so I took a cab. When I arrived at my destination and told the person I was meeting that I took a cab, she made a face like a baby holding in a fart. She then proceeded to ask how much the cab was ($19, plus tip) and then let me know I could have caught a train for like 35 cents and got there in half the time. Which I already knew, but trains, well…


5. Riding New York City subways are like sex.

They're kinda scary and daunting and intimidating before the first time you do it, mainly because of a fear of doing the wrong thing. Also, syphilis. But then you realize that other people are doing it just fine — shit, even kids much younger than you — and you do it yourself and think "Damn…this was fun and easy! Why haven't I been doing this? And why are my shins wet?"


But then, if you haven't done it in a while, that anxiety comes back. But then you remind yourself (again) of how easy it was and how low your chances are of contracting syphilis.

6. Apparently, there's absolutely no reason to go to the Bronx.

I don't mean this as shade. Don't want Peter Gunz's gaggle of concubines attacking me on Twitter. This is just reflecting what I've heard from New Yorkers, who don't put "The Bronx" in a sentence without also including "dirty" or "rats" or "roaches" or "strip club shooting" or "Why the hell are you going there?" (or all five) in the sentence as well.


7. There is a Shake Shack at JFK airport. (Multiple Shake Shacks, actually.)

I'm assuming this isn't unique to New York City and that there are Shake Shacks at other airports in the country, but I know there are multiple Shake Shacks at JFK. And this makes JFK the world's best airport, and the people who decided to put Shake Shacks at JFK the world's best people.


8. Things always being open messes with your internal equilibrium.

There's really no other way to explain the surreality of living somewhere where people's schedules and activities are determined by when things close, and going somewhere where people's schedules and activities are not determined by when things close, because things never close. Aside from, I don't know, sunbathe, anything you can do at 3pm can also be done at 3am. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, but I do know that it fucks with your concept of time and space and hunger.


9. It is true that New Yorkers tend to have an elevated sense of self-importance. It's very annoying…and perfectly understandable.

I get as annoyed as everyone else does when meeting a New Yorker who acts as if their city is both the center of the universe and the only place that actually matters. But then you go there. And you walk around. And you happen to walk into the Viacom building — which is only the place where like 89% of the shows currently on TV are produced. And then you walk past Madison Square Garden. And then you walk past the building where the color blue is created and mass produced. And then you walk into the Levi's store and happen to see Bill Clinton trying on some 522s.


And then you get it.

10. You have to be rich to be an alcoholic in New York City.

I had a $15 cocktail at the bar at my hotel. Which doesn't seem too outrageous, until you realize that it was happy hour and the cocktails were half off. This is why you read so many redemption stories about former Wall Street executives who became drunks and are now attempting to turn their lives around. They're the only ones who can afford it.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


I used to live in the Bronx years ago and I agree that it is not on most people's list of places to visit (I didn't even like living there….lol). However, I must say that I have had some of the BEST pizza and Jamaican food (outside of JA) at restaurants there. Even while living in Brooklyn, I had some amazing food, but still found myself craving food from the BX spots. Stone me if you must, but it is true.