6.23.2006

New Yorkers are Polite...hey, I read it in a magazine, it must be true

So, New Yorkers AREN'T hostile beasts?
Say it ain't so.

The Readers Digest did a secret shopper test for politeness.
A couple of facts they seem to have missed:

1. People are paid to hold the door open for you in this city. They are called "doormen" and in fact they are unionized.

2. "Thank you" is New York dialect for "hurry up".

3. When we help you pick up papers on the street we're picking your pocket.


and you'll notice, they didn't test the subway!

(Thanks to the "other MS" for the link)

20 comments:

Jim Winter said...

Trust me, Your Awfulness, New Yorkers ARE more polite than given credit for.

I live in [large but shrinking overly conservative midwestern city on banks of large river], and it seems like everyone here is a stark raving asshole who can't imagine why anyone in their right mind would ever want to venture beyond the confines of the I-275 loop. (Um... Because compared to this dump, Dayton is freakin' Times Square on Cinco de Mayo?)

The downside to this is if you learn to wave the mighty Metro Card, tourists on the subways assume you're also a New Yorker and ask directions.

Tourist: "Where is Woodside?"
Me [in a Hawaiian shirt, which screams out-of-town]:"In Queens."
"Yes, but where..."
"Look, I'm from that idiot red state near Michigan. Just take the #7 and try to get off before Shea Stadium. Okay? And how do you get to the South Ferry?"

Sue said...

Oh, now, Miss Snark, you must learn to take compliments graciously.

mvlcpio

one more time
xccmsefe

Jillian said...

All those folks who helped pick up papers? They were wanna-be authors who moved to NYC in the hope of making it big in the land of publishing. Anyone who drops a bunch of papers must be an editor, so...

Anonymous said...

Actually, I have to agree that I think New Yorkers are more convivial than one would think.

I used to think the British were several lengths ahead of us in being polite, but my recent visits there reinforce this article. It used to be, the British would go out of their way to show you how to get somewhere if you asked, now I find this more likely in Manhattan (and they aren't picking my pockets and using it as a diversion).

Perhaps because it's more crowded than NYC, Londoners regularly bump into people who maybe an inch into their space and just keep going. Have all the rude New Yorkers moved to London? I've noticed New Yorkers will do a quick side step to get out of another person's way to avoid pedestrian crashes. Londoner's look for it.

I don't live in either city, so this is my outsider's perspective.

anon-y-mouse

jeanjeanie said...

Actually, when a friend and I vacationed there a few years back, we were pleasantly surprised at how much nicer everybody was than the city's reputation led us to expect.

Of course, we never tried to ride the subway.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Miss Snark, you're just trying to hide the fact that you're a big softie at heart. I've only ever spent three days in New York, but I found the people there wonderfully friendly and welcoming, in great contrast to London (where I live, unfortunately). I love the line in that article about how New Yorkers are "even more polite" than Londoners. Anyone who thinks that Londoners set some kind of standard for politeness has clearly never been here!

Lydia said...

I've found New Yorkers extremely polite, too. Though almost as equally nosey... *g*

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Well, I haven't been to the big city in a while. Quite a while, actually. Last time we were there we stood at a McDonald's counter to order what they suggest is food. I thought the counter-clerk was incredibly rude, until I realized she was, in her own New York way, trying to be friendly.

I'm just used to cowboy casual. I live in a place where you are still likely to hear a "howdy ma'am" (Really) or something similar, though perhaps put in a more refined way.

New York has its share of the weird. It's always been in New York's nature to be slightly weird. Some of its brought by tourists. I think they leave it behind and go home normal, or something!

The scrawny wild-eyed nut that beat on our limo's windows and shouted obscenities certainly couldn't be representative of New York City, the center of American Civilization, could he? (Giggle: Sure he can. You're all as nutz!)

And, is that really English you speak? Are any New Yorkers speaking English? (Don't hit me! You're all perfectly understandable, I'm sure! At least with a hand held translator.)

Actually, I had a fun time in New York City ... even in Brooklyn. I discovered it wasn't a good idea to go looking for the intersection of Prince and Elm without a bodyguard. Since we'd left the Royal Bodyguard home, we didn't go. (It was a historical question. I was curious to see the spot where an orphanage was back in the 1850's.)

We also had a very nice unexpected conversation with (Insert name of famous Play-write). He was a delight and represented you all very well. He also had us pegged as "tourists" from the moment he laid eyes on us. (Ok, so semi-tourists. I had some family stuff which needed my attention. But we were there for a week, and that took exactly one day.)

I didn't see one goat the whole time. I think New York City isn't goat-friendly. That's a shame. Hold a baby goat, and your disposition will even out. It's very soothing.

("I'd rather have a baby goat."--Aphrael in David Edding's Sapphire Rose. Now there's a little goddess who knows.)

I was treated like the Royalty I am in some deli. I wish I could remember the name. I think they thought me scrawny. They kept trying to stuff food in me! And the waiter was actually very polite in a weird sorta way. (Remove the weird accent, the permanent scowl, and the surly manner, and you had a very fun person.)

Executive Summary: New Yorkers are nice under the surface. They litter a lot in some sections. The city had interesting old buildings. It's like visiting a foreign country. You get lost a lot, but someone will always help you -- maybe for a fee. Keep your windows rolled up!

jaywalke said...

I think the timing is important. If you hit midtown at rush hour, you will find jerk-a-plenty.

I moved from NYC to Seattle, which is like being dropped into a time warp. Those Pacific Northwesterners are so nice, they seem Canadian.

MommyWithAttitude said...

With the exception of a cab driver who tried to rip my friend's leg off, I've always found New Yorkers to be very friendly and gracious.

In fact when a New Yorker friend comes to visit me in Oregon, she routinely engages strangers in conversation and then marvels to me, "Everyone is so friendly here!"

People seem to be more abrupt and to the point in New York, however, and that's often taken for rudeness in places like the midwest. I think that's why the bad reputation.

Ms. Hawkes said...

My husband (English) lived in New York for 22 years before moving to California and marrying me, a native from the Golden State. Last years visit to Manhatten, where we stayed with New Yorkers, partied with New Yorkers, took the subway, the ferry, and walked to hell and gone on that small island, proved that I find New Yorkers vastly more congenial, far less stuck-up and far more wysiwyg than the humorless, hippified, pretentious I Wouldn't Harm a Fly but I'll Give You Stink-Eye Because I Think You Might crowd out here on the West Coast.
I'd trade New Yorkers for the Peace-Love-Doveniks clogging our beach towns in a heartbeat. They are (generally) far less full of shit and (generally) they smell nicer, without all that damn Patchouli.

Thanks for letting me snark, now I feel better. Peace-Love-Dove to all from the California Girl

Jeff Stehman said...

I only lived there for a year, but I didn't think the people were especially rude, and I spent a lot of time on the subway.

The post office near where I worked had the most polite, helpful staff of any post office I've ever been in, and that's saying something. (Unfortunately, the employees at the post office that served my apartment were a surly bunch.)

Breathable air, now that was in short supply.

Anonymous said...

Oh, really people are nice there? Hmm, I'm kind of disappointed. I was looking forward to moving to a city where I could truely express myself with a one finger salute and get away with it!
Scratch NYC off the list of places to live...put on the list... London.
Seriously, I have met many New Yorkers outside of there native stomping grounds and there are very nice. Although a couple of ladies I'm thinking of were kind of pushy, but they weren't have as bad as I've been on a 8 a.m. train into the city and no coffee in the old system.
Just saying....it depends on the person not the city.

anony from Philly said...

I think New Yorkers like to have their tough-guy reputation, and being polite just doesn't fit their self-image.

What do New Yorkers think of Philadelphians? I've always wondered that.

eleora said...

I will say that it seems really idiotic for Reader's Digest to try to judge the rudeness of other countries by the same standards (especially the non-English speaking ones). An American abroad is very obvious while it isn't as obvious that someone is not a native New Yorker.

Some test...

Anonymous said...

I'm originally a New Yorker-
moved to Indiana and found those people so uptight! New Yorkers are forward and have balls- they talk, they talk to you. I'd rather have someone say, "what you lookin at, asshole" then nothing at all.

Christine said...

I used to live in Philly. Visiting NYC was always a breath of fresh air where politeness was concerned.

Jessica said...

I'm a little confused by the whole survay. They did the whole "secret shopper" thing for cities all over the world? But did they take into account the fact that other cultures have different ideas on what is polite and what is not polite? For example some kind of characteristic or behavior in Japan might seem polite/rude to us but it might be rude/polite there. or visa versa. So did they think about that? Or were they pressing their own culture's beliefs on what is polite/unpolite onto other cultures because that doesn't work.

leslie said...

I grew up in the NYC suburbs and have lived in (gasp!) Los Angeles for the last 20 years, and I've always been confused by varying assessments of NY rudeness/politeness/whatever. On my last trip home, however, it finally hit me: stationary New Yorkers are extremely nice; New Yorkers in motion, god help you. In two days, I saw three people literally shoved out of someone's way, one of them knocked to the ground holding a variety of fragile objects. People cursed, loudly, at those who they didn't believe were walking fast enough. But everyone who had managed to make it to wherever they needed to be was perfectly pleasant. Not killing-you-with-kindness pleasant, but I think after navigating the shark-infested Sidewalks of New York, their pleasantness seemed even greater in contrast.

Anonymous said...

I love New Yorkers. They talk. People here in Boston are not only often rude, they do this weird thing where they pretend they don't see you.