cultural capital

Are New Yorkers Actually Rude? Discuss!


That little girl in the purple coat is waiting for that guy in the Santa hat to move out of the way. If he does not, she will kill him.Photo: Getty Images

New Yorker writer Joan Acocella recently went slumming and wrote an article for Smithsonian magazine debating the question, Are New Yorkers really rude or really nice? And, if they are rude, did they come here already rude or did New York turn them rude? Personally, we arrived here a polite southern gal and later turned into an asshole.

This much was evident over the Christmas holidays when we found ourselves in Rockefeller Center and sent our friend, senior editor Jessica Coen, a text reading: Omg, I hate plowing through the Rockefeller Center and Radio City tourists every day. I literally just want to tackle every one of them from behind, grab their heads in my hands and bash them into the concrete.

Seriously, we used to be lovely.

Acocella, for her part, thinks that New Yorkers are no-nonsense but pretty nice overall. She writes:

It is said that New Yorkers are rude, but I think what people mean by that is that New Yorkers are more familiar. The man who waits on you in the delicatessen is likely to call you sweetheart. (Feminists have gotten used to this.) People on the bus will say, “I have the same handbag as you. How much did you pay?” If they don’t like the way you are treating your children, they will tell you. And should you try to cut in front of somebody in the grocery store checkout line, you will be swiftly corrected.

She doesn’t really get into why New Yorkers are sometimes short-tempered, but here is our answer: We’re constantly surrounded by people. We live on top of each other in apartments for which we pay too much and which are too small (as we type, we can hear our neighbor’s cell phone going off and it’s on vibrate). We live in the most expensive city in the country so we always feel poor. We have to walk to get everywhere so it takes more physical effort to get places. There are tourists everywhere, and since they don’t have to be at work, they move more slowly than the rest of us, and they don’t know where they’re going so they just stand in the way. It’s enough to drive a person to drink, if we could afford cars, parking, and the $12 cocktails. But the fact that we have to work so hard to live here only makes us love it more. It’s also incredibly fun and enriching, and really good pizza is always available.

Disagree? Well, fuck you! —Noelle Hancock

You got a problem with that? [Smithsonian Mag]

Are New Yorkers Actually Rude? Discuss!