You think you can handle the mean streets of New York City, wise guy? You’re ready for packed subway stations and overpriced hot dogs, but are you prepared to reckon with a local with a temper? Getting cussed out in NYC is part of the experience, but if you’re looking to avoid it, we can help. We’ve put together the following tips just for you, so you don’t mysteriously wind up stuck on top of the Empire State Building, begging the janitor working the graveyard shift for help:
1. Don’t block the flow of human traffic
“Get out of my way” is the mantra of New Yorkers. It’s called the City That Never Sleeps for a reason, and people are on a mission to get everywhere they need to be A.S.A.P. Nearly everyone walking down the street looks busy and pissed off, and nothing upsets them more than a lost tourist blocking their path. If you want the respect of the locals, always stay to the right side on subway steps, escalators, and sidewalks (it’s common sense, yo). If you want to stand somewhere and look at something, please move aside to allow people behind you to keep walking. Above all, never, ever stop and study your map in the middle of an entrance to a subway tunnel during rush hour—unless you have a death wish.
2. Don’t wait for the green light
If you spend your entire trip waiting around for the “walk” sign, you’ll be back home watching Netflix before you know it. Jaywalking is key in the city because, as we mentioned previously, there’s no time to spare in the Empire State. Prepare for a real-life version of Frogger™, and practice some fancy footwork skills if you want to keep up with the flow of pedestrian traffic in the city. But don’t start daydreaming in the crosswalk—taxis don’t pay much attention to the lights either and won’t really care if they run you down.
3. Don’t steal a cab, you goon
Scenario: You’re walking down the street and see someone unwrapping what appears to be a tasty sandwich. As they bring the delicious morsel to their lips, you grab it out of their hands and start slobbering all over it yourself. Essentially, that’s what you’re doing when you steal someone’s taxi. Do you want spittle to fly in your face as you’re being screamed at through the window of your newly acquired cab? We think not. Find an open spot on the street to hail a cab or wait your turn. There are a billion black and yellows in the city, so we promise you’ll catch one.
4. Don’t stiff your waiter
People in the Big Apple’s food and beverage industry live in apartments the size of shoeboxes and shop at thrift stores out of necessity, not hipness. This is because most waiters in New York are paid a pathetic wage, and they might bounce the rent check this month if you don’t tip at least 15 percent. So if you’re set on scrooging, don’t be surprised if you’re in for a bruising. And don’t act surprised if they ignore you or yell out some choice words when you ask them for sightseeing advice after your meal (I’ll show you the Statue of Liberty, why I oughta).
Now despite following these bits of advice, do remember that sometimes you can simply end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Don’t worry; receiving curses from a local in the Big Apple is kind of a rite of passage. Apologizing and moving on quickly can get you out of most sticky situations, and if all else fails, you can always pretend that you don’t speak English.