Waking up in New York, be sure to follow the rules

(Flickr photo by joiseyshowaa)

No one credibly disputes that New York City is unlike any other in the world.  In fact, no city is like another — each is unique by definition.

I drafted this post two years ago, and finally want to unload it while I am traveling in Thailand from my current home in Phnom Penh.  Any New Yorker will not be surprised by what follows, especially since my own iteration may partially duplicate guidelines that others have written. But the pleasure of recognition may prove to make the list worth reading.

I guess I need an editor to hold me back, but why waste the effort that I expended to communicate what I learned during the decades I lived in Manhattan?  Thus. . .

In the Big Apple and especially Manhattan, anyone who knows these rules can make it there:

  • Always keep an eye on the ground for evidence of dogs;
  • Never take the newspaper on top of the pile;
  • Edge onto the roadway when crossing the street;
  • Bury your face in a book or newspaper in the subway and fold that paper in half–lengthwise;
  • Be first to see the latest movie or play or sample the most recently acclaimed restaurant;
  • Assume everyone wants to cheat you;
  • Ask for a taste at the cheese or deli counter;
  • Expect the line you choose to be the longest
  • Cross against the light when no cars are coming;
  • Shift to a better seat when theater lights go down;
  • Express support for the Tea Party or even Republicans only if you’re willing to be put on the defensive;
  • Cultivate the friendship of your doorman, but. . .
  • Don’t be overly friendly with building employees if you seek to retain a semblance of privacy;
  • Drive behind an oil or garbage truck only if you want plenty of time to chat on your phone or read without pesky interruption from driving;
  • Know which part of any subway train drops you at the exit of your destination station;
  • Repeat twice that you want your coffee beans or your loaf of bread whole;
  • Expect your physician to keep you waiting;
  • Wonder whether the passenger in front of you will hold a bus’s exit door for you;
  • Stay off your cell phone at the gym;
  • Be thrilled to reveal how much you paid for your home;
  • Use only first names when dropping them;
  • Avoid making eye contact with celebrities or asking them for an autograph;
  • Reject the first table offered you at a restaurant;
  • Become used to traffic jams in the cramped aisles of supermarkets that never have all you seek;
  • Stay way back on sidewalks when waiting to cross a puddled street;
  • Reject a slice of pizza taken directly without warming from a pan under the counter;
  • Always be smarter than your taxi driver;
  • Walk briskly in the unlikely event that you’re not alone on a sidewalk;
  • Beat the surprising amount of competition to engage in random acts of kindness;
  • Never pay retail for anything;
  • Complain, complain, complain about everything;
  • Plan on circling the block for hours to obtain a parking space;
  • And don’t think you won’t get a ticket if you leave your car five minutes before a parking ban expires;
  • Learn a few little Yiddish words e.g. mishugenah, hondle, schlep and bupkis;
  • Assume it’s an actor practicing lines, not a serial killer, who’s talking to himself;
  • Tell people from elsewhere how much better New York City is than anywhere else.

Heed the rules, and you’ll soon not only pass for a New Yorker but be one as well.  Following the foregoing “rules” can distinguish you.  You also will be well equipped to detect poseurs 15 different ways outlined elsewhere and see how the Big Apple’s rules compare with those of other cities.

Yes, it’s patently obvious: Nothing compares with living in the Big Apple.

But. . . What rules have I missed?

E-mail: malcolmncarter@gmail.com

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