attitudinal adjustment

A good portion of the New York population is in need of an attitudinal adjustment*, in my opinion. At least in the area of walking etiquette. Walk down nearly any city street and you'll see people barging forward with no regard to who they might run into. They expect others to get out of their way. You pull in your elbow, adjust your bag so it's behind you, and make other courtesy moves like that. If the oncoming person did the same, you'd pass without incident. Instead, the person makes no move. They crash into you and don't bother to turn around, excuse themselves or apologize. Not even an apologetic glance. Groups of people walk 3 or 4 abreast without adjusting for crowds and force everyone in their path to dodge them. This is all, of course, amplified if you go up to midtown and brave the most crowded sidewalks in Manhattan.

This is probably not news to most of you. New Yorkers have a reputation for being rude and thoughtless, especially when it comes to behavior when walking, driving or waiting in line for anything. I've not made any stunning revelations here.

But here's the thing: I don't believe it is native New Yorkers who have earned the city this reputation. I think it is mostly transplants. With some exceptions on both sides, I'm sure. When you move to New York, whether or not you have spent time in the city before, you are moving into one of the most populated and most legendary and storied cities in the world. You start out with preconceived notions of what to expect and how to behave.

For the native New Yorkers and long-time residents, this is their hometown. They treat it as such. They are comfortable and secure here, without trying to live up to expectations or make a certain impression.

Having said that, it is important to note that being cautious and always aware of what is going on around you is essential. To be overly confident or unaware can invite trouble, as can being too friendly. I don't want to say that I take offense to people who are cautious and very guarded about themselves when out in public. I am that way to some extent, myself. It's self-protection and common sense.

I am sick of the rudeness, though.

*My parents used this phrase often in reference to me when I was a bitchy rotten growing, sensitive young teenager. Appropriate, don't you think?


anna said...

Remember when Kari used to just smack into people in the halls at regional?

Amy said...

I had forgotten about that! LOL - yeah she got so fed up with people she finally just started slamming into them. Good times, good times.

Elena said...

Hehehe, "attitudinal adjustment". An unforgettable family phrase.

PS: I think you're a beautiful person, too.

maresi said...

attitudinal!!! That's one of my favorite words. I remember when your mom picked up that word from some asshat in a class she was in at the Zoo. At least that's the first time I remember it. I'm so excited to come to NYC and get slammed into on the sidewalks!

Mutha Mae said...

Interesting. I like your observations and hope to hear more in the future. Here in the Midwest, we're quite polite and wouldn't think of bumping into someone without a sweet excuse me! People shop and leave their purses in their carts and wander away to look for other items. Most people don't even lock their garages, back doors, or car doors. It's foolish, but you get into a comfortable bubble around here.

Unknown said...

Dude you are so right

I've been to new york once. It was part of a complicated road trip, and I ended up in union station with a heavy backpack, and a cooler (such as you would take camping) which was very heavy and full of things I didn't need. I was planning to ship the cooler home. I took a taxi to a post office, and the lady in line told me I had to tape it securely closed and tape a label on it.

So me and the postlady start taping it up, and the fool behind me in line unleashes a blistering string of insults at me for not having the courtesy to tape it up at home. I tried to explain to him my situation but he just kept going and I taped as fast as possible.

LA has it's share of problems, but I've never in my life been yelled at like that here!

Except people at USC are pretty terrible at not walking into people...

they have this thing about riding a bike on the left side of the street while talking on the phone with one hand

it makes me crazy

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