21 August, 2010

The Typical New Yorker

Some thoughts were just running through my mind and I thought I'd share them, to see what others think.

I'd recently been accused of being "one of those arrogant, rude New Yorkers" and so I've been focused on why this misconception of New Yorkers being rude and obnoxious has come about and it has lead me to the exact opposite conclusion:

New Yorkers are, by and far, more friendly and more intimate with each other than citizens of other big cities and small towns alike, because they've taken the time to get to know one another through assimilation.

Being The Center of the World has its advantages (there are so many things to do!) and its disadvantages (there are so many things to do!). Because of this, New Yorkers are perennially wandering about from place to place and from event to event, to get to that "next thing to do" that's on their "list" (virtual or stone tablet).

With all this running, walking, jogging, skating, biking, and otherwise getting to and fro, who has time to stop and carry on a verbal conversation with anyone? As such, over time, New Yorkers have learned to communicate non-verbally (it's a much more efficient means of communication, don't you think?). Of course, this has led to the occasional misunderstanding and mishap but those are far and few between as we New Yorkers have honed this non-verbal communication skill.

In discussing this with a friend on-line, I was asked, "Just how do we learn from each other if we're not communicating?" Obviously, I had to sit my friend down and explain to him that he wasn't paying attention, because I never said we New Yorkers don't communicate; we just do so in a non-verbal fashion.

Apart from the hustle and bustle of perennially flitting about to and fro to get to our next "thing to do" in this great and wonderful town (town, ha!--more like a megalopolis, isn't it?), there's another reason that we've taken to using this non-verbal mode of communication: space constraints.

This falls into my theory of New Yorkers having learned the art of getting to know people via assimilation. Living so close together, one can't help but learn about one's neighbors through plastered walls and soundboard ceilings and floors.

And not just in our homes (where we almost never seem to be, as there's always something on our "To Do" list) but in our places of work and in our places of enjoyment. And don't forget, we also assimilate knowledge about our neighbors (of which New Yorkers are all one to each other) in the process of moving about to and fro all the places we need to be and are trying to get to in order to reach the next big great destination on our To Do's.

To the outsider, New York may seen like a very chaotic place but I'm certain the chaos theorists will eventually conduct a study to prove the order within this perceived chaos in New York City. In other words, we have a way of doing things that none can mimic. The way we talk, the way we walk, the way we dress, the way we mess; it all comprises who we are as individuals and also as part of the group collective.

To further combat this chaos, many New Yorkers try to instill order into it by sticking to a certain schedule. Thus, we get to know our neighbors as we travel those paths to reach the next destination of our To Do's. While we may not know their name, most New Yorkers can certainly tell you about the guy who always gets a schmear of butter (or low-fat cream cheese, or strawberry cream cheese, or onion & lox, or lox & chives, or sour cream & chives, or--well, you get the picture) on their bagel and the one who a fourth of the time will forget to put a lid on their coffee after pouring it into their cup from the self-serve carafes at the news stand (or deli) in the morning, splattering it all over their copy of The Times or The News at The Rock and the guy who's always running down the block/stairs/avenue trying to catch the next bus/train/subway and always ends up missing it anywhere from 15 seconds to 3 minutes too late and who at lunch order the pastrami as opposed to the ham or turkey or liverwurst or roast beef and whether it's Swiss or American or provolone on rye, wheat, white, whole grain, or multi-grain and whether the Ferragamos are from Saks, Bloomie's, Barney's, Bergdorf's, or down on Canal and Oy! putting that cockamamie Louis V with such an obvious Chanel knock-off ....

Now, to the outsider, this may seem like trying to decipher the Egyptians' hieroglyphics on a collegiate education specializing in English Literature but to a New Yorker, it's providing vital information to them about who the person is. And when one is imbued with such intimate knowledge of a person's life, the necessity for that "Hey, lovely day we're having today, isn't it?" just floats out the window and up the canyons formed by the City's towering structures of concrete, glass, and steel. And besides, who has time to say such things when what's really on your mind is how late you fell asleep and how late you woke up this morning because you were kept awake by the Batlan living upstairs and their never-ending exploits and how much you'd just love to knock their head against a wall some day but you can't be bothered because you're on your way to that next greatest best thing on your To Do's.

Of course, whilst there are certainly exceptions to the rule, as its general practice, New Yorkers tend to be the most conforming lot of non-conformists ever to have been placed on this round ball of silicate/iron/magnesium dangling dangerously close to that molten nuclear reactor we call a G2V star. And that's what makes the infusion of information by assimilation possible in New York.

This also explains the tendency of New Yorkers to be a bit of T3h Buttinsky. Because, after all, New Yorkers are informed, opinionated individuals who always know what's best for the other (provided the "other" isn't themselves) and hesitates at nothing to let their neighbors know (because, after all, New Yorkers really are a caring, compassionate lot). It's our way of saying, "Hey, we care about you, so this is how you're going to do this to avoid having your tuches bounced off the pavement by ...."

So next time you encounter a New Yorker and we don't put on the two-faced politeness that those in the South, Southwest, and Western parts of this nation practice, please do try to keep in mind that it's probably because we've already surmised how you're doing given our non-verbal communication skills and simply are on our way to the next best greatest thing on our To Do's and if you haven't learned how to communicate non-verbally as well have and deal with this massive amount of intimacy within which we have all learned to live, then it's just a crying shonda. ;-p

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