Just some random thoughts and observations from an outsider living in The City:
1. Manhattan is The City.
2. The appearance of a public washroom in The City is like finding an oasis in the Sahara. Make sure you use it before going anywhere else, because you don’t know when you will find another one.
3. Starbucks is, in fact, the public washroom for The City.
4. As a corollary to 3, Starbucks employees are the public washroom attendants for New York. Someone should compensate them for this thankless job.
5. As a direct result of 4, do not count on Starbucks washrooms always being available, especially late at night. Sometimes the public washroom attendants decide they’ve had enough, and lock the washroom.
6. As a result of 2-5, do not be surprised where you see people relieve themselves in The City. I once saw a guy urinate in between two train cars on a moving subway. When you’ve got to go…
7. Don’t call it a washroom, it’s a restroom. Use of the word washroom will garner you a blank stare in return.
8. Union Square is the centre of Manhattan, not Times Square. You might be surprised how often you find yourself at Union Square. It’s a little bit like a hub. All roads seem to converge there before heading off to their final destination. Union Square is to New York, as London is to Europe.
9. No one says please or thank you here. It is not a question of manners, it’s a question of space and time.
10. Space does not exist in New York.
11. Time does not exist in New York.
12. Due to the non-existence of space, real estate is of prime importance. Expect all conversations to begin with a reference to where you live, and learn to get uber-specific with the location of everything. Eg. I just bought a coffee at the deli at 5th ave and 21st st.
13. Due to the non-existence of time, everyone is always in a rush, even if they don’t need to be anywhere. This creates havoc at crosswalks, because nobody waits for the lights.
14. Bikes don’t wait for lights or cars. No traffic rules apply to people on bikes, they can ride on sidewalks, race through intersections on a diagonal (preferably in the dark without a light), and smash through clumps of pedestrians with impunity.
15. If you are walking towards somebody and need to avoid a collision, you must make eye contact. Not following this rule will cause a major hiccup in a well-oiled machine.
16. People will smash into you and push you out of the way to get where they need to go. This is especially true getting on the subway, and an especially prevalent habit in the elderly. People need a seat.
17. Related to 16: seating is a scarce resource in The City.
18. Related to 17: you can find any kind of food from anywhere in the world for next to no money at a food truck or in a deli. People have an almost supernatural ability to churn out full menus from a tiny little grill in the middle of a busy street. And it can be super-cheap. If, however, you would like to sit down to eat (ie. at a restaurant) prepare to pay extra for the luxury of sitting down.
19. Most people seem to think Brooklyn is pretty cool.
20. Only people from Queens actually know how cool Queens is.
21. People from Manhattan seem to think they’re the epicentre of the known universe. No one else cares, as most people who live in Manhattan seem to be from somewhere else anyway.
22. The Bronx has a zoo.
23. Staten Island has… a ferry?
24. No matter how long you stay here, if you ain’t from here, you ain’t a New Yorker.
25. Being a New Yorker is, to a large degree, a matter of volume.