I have been living in New York for a while and every time that I get guests they always want to do something like New Yorker. However, it is very easy for a New Yorker to discover a visitor.
- When New Yorkers walk, they walk with intent. Some might call it quick paced or looking like they are in a rush. \however, New Yorkers call it knowing where you are going.
- New Yorker’s are always moving forward – They do not abruptly stop in the middle of the crowded sidewalk specially for taking a selfie.
- Tourists stopping at the top or bottom of stairs or escalators, or just outside a restaurant or shop door, to consult signs or a map, thus blocking everyone else. That will get you shoved in a place like Grand Central at rush hour.
- New Yorker’s do not look up while walking on the sidewalk, because they have already known all the sights.
- Jaywalking in Manhattan is an art that takes precision and practice, and every New Yorker does it. It is probably better if visitors do not do it. When walking on a diagonal across Manhattan, I play the “don’t stop” game — cross with the light at every intersection; never stop to wait for the light to change. If you end up having to stop because your destination is in the next block and you got caught at a red light, and crossing with the current green light would take you in the wrong direction, you lose.
- New Yorkers always walk on the right side of the sidewalks and always let the right side of stairs and escalators free for people that are on rush. If you do not respect this law, be ready for being insulting or at least be hit.
- New Yorker’s actively attempt to avoid the squares: Time Square, Washington Square, Union Square and all these tourists places.
- New Yorker’s do not go to national food chains for their meals – EVER. Bubba Gump, Carmine’s, Hard Rock Café, Friday’s, Applebee’s, Red Labster, Cake Boss, Magnolia… or sport theme bars. There are over 24,000 restaurants in New York City, and if you tell me you ate at an Olive Garden, I might just punch you in the chest.
- New Yorker’s walk through the park as opposed to the sidewalks on the cut-troughs @ 65th, 79th, 86th or 96th.
- New Yorker’s know that an empty subway car on an otherwise crowded train is NOT a car they want to get into.
- New Yorker’s do not disturb celebrities that they see on the street, in a restaurant, on the subway, running in the park…
- New Yorker’s do not stare. If they initially appear to be looking in your direction or seemingly directly at you, you will likely get more of a feeling that they are looking past or even through you.
- However, if a New Yorker is caught in the rare situation of gawking (for example, on the subway); they will not avert their eyes.
- New Yorker’s will ignore things that most others would consider bizarre. For example, a person who begins screaming at his invisible lover while riding the downtown express train.
- Whatever the situation, New Yorker’s rarely appear lost – whether in location (street, subway, store), social situation (party, bar, restaurant) or during a business transaction.
- New Yorker’s do not attempt to hail occupied taxis. On top of every cab in NYC is a roof light. An available taxi is one where just the center numbers/letters are lit. These same lights are off when the taxi is already occupied.
- When hailing a cab, New Yorker’s do not yell “taxi.” They simply hold out our hand, much like the once used Olympic solute.
- New Yorker’s (when driving) obey the traffic signals. They do not “Turn right on red” and blowing a red light puts them in the direct path of other New York drivers who “gun the green.” I am referring to moving vehicles, as opposed to walkers. New York drivers are acutely aware of the tendency to gun the acceleration the moment the light turns green. The people blowing reds are generally from NJ.
- Real New Yorkers rarely drive in Manhattan and, when not given the choice, are pretty well behaved on the road, except cabs…which, as a rule, are some of the worse drivers in the city!
- New Yorker’s have learned to completely ignore anyone who attempts to: 1) hand them a flyer; 2) sell them candy to support their high school basketball team; 3) asks “Do you like comedy?” or; 4) holds a clipboard while standing on the sidewalk.
- New Yorker’s refer to the subway system ONLY by the numbers or letters of the train. For example, “Take the C to Times Square and then transfer to the 7 towards Grand Central.” The colors mean nothing to them.
- New Yorker’s demonstrate a unique queueing behavior which can be exceptionally efficient. Despite the number of available registers, New Yorker’s will form a single line whereby the front person goes to the next available register. Tourists often appear puzzled by this.
- New Yorker’s know their coffee and/or food order before they get to the head of a line. Tourists tend to dither and appear indecisive.
- New Yorkers love to be witness on subway bloopers. For example, when a group of tourists gets on the uptown “A” train at 59th Street, not realizing that the next stop is 125th Street. 59th Street is crowded, so groups of people do not stick out as much at first. By 86th Street, though, panic sets in and the confused travelers reveal themselves.
- New Yorkers can notice tourists easily when they are sitting somewhere, and tehy start overhearing conversations: “I don’t know where Chelsea is, but…”
- People often ask for directions, locals and tourists alike, but it’s HOW the tourists ask directions: “Which way to the park?” “Oh, it’s one block east of here.” “No, the BIG park.” “Oh, the bigger park around here is Madison Square Park. North about 10 blocks.” “No, the really big park.” “Do you mean Central Park?” “Yes, that’s it!” Someone asked me how far Times Square is. I was in the Village, so I answered that it was about 40 blocks away. “Can I walk there?” “What’s your time frame?”
- There are also tourists who insist that they know what they are talking about: I made small talk with proud parents of an NYC college student. “Our friend lives at Stop #1 on this train.” We were on the A, so I asked, “Do you mean at 207th?” “No, at Stop #1.” If a tourist speaks, they reveal themselves.
- Someone else mentioned clothing. To be more specific, pastels and bright colors. Loose t-shirts and Bermuda shorts. This is practically a uniform in the Mid-Atlantic States, but a dead giveaway of a tourist in New York. New Yorkers wear black year round for any occasion. New Yorkers wear boots in the middle of summer.
- New Yorkers rarely leave their neighborhood. They still say “hello” to their coffee cart man, dry cleaner, grocer etc.
- New Yorkers usually waits for their subways close to the wall. First, to let the passengers circulate on the platform more safely and second, because being close to the gap is a risk. Sometimes people get crazy and throw the others in the rails.
Nevertheless, rest assured, New Yorkers are generally happy to help you find you way and I, personally, always stop to help tourists get a picture with a big landmark. New York is a city full of tourists and they coexist happily with the New Yorkers, unless they stop in front of them when they are in a hurry. Just kidding, mostly.