There are a lot of little things – behaviors, customs, etc. – in NYC that I’m not used to. (Thank you, Captain Obvious!) It doesn’t seem like any individual thing is terribly difficult, but when it’s a whole new skill set, it can wear on you. I think I have mastered these types of things:
- Swiping my MetroCard: There’s no better way to make a local think you’re a terrible, oafish tourist than holding someone up in the turnstile. I’d say my swiping accuracy is at about 90% right now.
- Jaywalking: I realize it’s technically against the law. But New Yorkers take jaywalking to another level, and if you don’t keep up, you get left behind. It’s not idle jaywalking in which you happen to notice that the street is quiet and you scurry across; it’s aggressive and strategic, walking out in the intersection even while cars are crossing on their green lights, and striding across when there’s even the slightest pause.
- Carrying stuff: Millions of citizens on public transit = lots of people carrying stuff. I’ve had to schlep a lot of things on the subway and on Metro North thus far, and I swear I’m already physically stronger for it. I haven’t seen anyone carrying anything that weird yet (my friends have told tales of transporting Christmas trees and kegs via subway), but I did see some guys taking a 42″ flatscreen TV on a crowded train the other day.
- Walking up stairs: See above, re: public transit. I climb a lot of stairs, partly since I haven’t joined a gym yet and I figure I might as well, partly since escalators are often broken or off.
- Eating bagels: Okay, this is a skill I already had, but man, I’ve never eaten so many bagels and cream cheese.
Things I have yet to master:
- Figuring out which subway car to be in/where to exit (I haven’t downloaded Exit Strategy yet)
- Wearing earbuds all the time
- Budgeting while carrying/using lots of cash all the time
- Spotting celebrities
- Ignoring my guilt about gentrification