Lee Abbamonte wrote an insightful piece on the supposed rudeness-friendliness dichotomy of the New York attitude. Some people—and Lee is one of them—will argue that New Yorkers are just about the rudest people on the planet, while others will cite the countless instances of New Yorkers helping out-of-towners with directions and navigating through the Big Apple. Not too fast, Lee says; New Yorkers are willing to give directions because they revel in their cosmopolitan Manhattan-ism while tourists bathe in awe of Gotham. Giving directions is a sense of proving yourself as a New Yorker—using street-names and landmarks is akin to name-dropping in L.A.
Now I’m technically not a New Yorker but I have commuted here for the better part of seven years, so I kind of know what Lee is talking about. New Yorkers are rude, especially during rush hour. Do not stand in the way of a latte-armed, suit-dressed executive while he or she is plowing through turnstiles to get to the 1 train. Unless you like being ignored, do not try to ask anyone anything between the hours of 7 to 9am and 5 to 7pm. Rush hour is the New York equivalent of the seventh circle of hell. I am ninety-nine percent certain that the New York rude attitude is caused by the madness of the rush hour commute.
This, of course, is destiny at work when you have millions of people cramming to board a tiny island five out of seven days of the week. And if they do happen to live in Manhattan, chances are they are forced to board the subway, an efficient but cramped transportation system that at best smells like dirty laundry and at worst, well…you can imagine. Take a New Yorker out of the busyness of the workday and you will discover a friendlier attitude. Go to Central Park and immerse yourself in its depths—you’ll be surprised you’re still in nation’s largest city. Talk to the people there—you’ll find them more willing to chat than on Broadway and Forty-second Street.
Do New Yorkers revel in giving directions? Absolutely. They’re proud of their city and it shows. I can’t argue that the locals like to drop fifth-avenue this and Madison-avenue that because they’re well aware of their city’s world-famous iconography and are proud of it. Just don’t ask how to get to Carnegie Hall while standing in the middle of Grand Central at eight in the morning.