A Newbie’s Guide to New York City

My Photo Stream-370 We’ve been in NYC since late September. In that time, here are a few things I’ve learned that may be useful to some of my readers.

Walking in NYC. Avenues run East to West. Streets run North to South. Also, Avenues are 2.5x longer than streets. Good to note when you are walking. If you need to walk 2-3 streets, not so far, 2-3 avenues is going to take you more time.

Also, when you are walking in NYC, especially in Mid-town where it is busy, keep walking. Do not stop to check your phone or dig out your metro card (or take a photo of the tall buildings). If you must stop, move aside. There are people behind you, and if you stop they will run into you. Look, there are a lot of people here. So, it’s important to have a 360 degree awareness. Not only for safety but for etiquette too. Don’t be rude, go with the flow or step aside. Check out these pedestrian penalty cards for more tips on how to walk in NYC.

Taking the Subway. Even though the locals use the number or letter, it’s a bit easier to consider the color coding when figuring out which train to take.

Also, sometimes the local will change to an express. This is important, an express train makes fewer stops, obviously. If you are on a line that suddenly announces they are going express, then you’ll want to make sure your stop is still on the line. Otherwise, get off and wait for the next local.

Last, being able to use the timetable is helpful. Everything runs on a schedule, subway, buses. That’s not to say, if you miss one, another won’t come along. But if you can follow a timetable, the world is yours my friend.

Order up. In New York, the food options are endless. However, you must decided quickly and move on. Especially when ordering lunch, or coffee. Initially I was befuddled trying to order. When you get to the counter, they expect you to know what you want and to say it quickly. There isn’t really time for asking questions or deliberating between the chicken or the beef. Seriously, look at the menu before you get to the counter.

Also, best to bring some cash. Before moving to NY, I use my debit card everywhere and I rarely carried cash. In NYC, the card takes too long. And most drivers prefer cash. I learned the reason is in NY, every time you swipe a card, they have to pay a city tax. Not that anyone wants to cheat the tax system but there are a lot of taxes here, so cash is good. And somehow, much faster to use.

What to wear? Pretty much anything goes. I’ve seen 60-year-olds wearing baby doll dresses with combat boots. Elderly men wearing fedoras and vests. I’ve seen upscale fashionistas. And grungy, bed headed hipsters. I’ve seen boots, heels and sneakers. The only rule of fashion here is to wear it like you mean it. Everything goes. I will say, however, one rule has been constant so far, carry an umbrella in your bag.

Full services lifestyle. You can have your groceries delivered. Your laundry washed and folded. And it’s not only pizza that comes by delivery, take your pick and get any type of food delivered. I haven’t yet figured out how to get my driver’s license without going to the DMV, but if it were going to happen anywhere it’d happen in NYC.

New Yorkers aren’t rude. They are actually helpful as long as you obey the flow of traffic and if you have a question ask it quickly without dalliance. Everyone I’ve met is very helpful. And they have a sense of humor about it all. I ran across these jokes about NYC. Here are a few that made me chuckle softly to myself (okay, the last one almost sent me over the edge of LOL).

“I’ve been living in the city for 15 years; I have no idea where the train is going. The worst is when the train goes express on a whim. Like mid-ride, they decide, Let’s not stop. Why are we stoppin’? Let’s just go. And let’s not tell them either. Or let’s tell them as the doors are closing. [Closing doors sound] ‘Next stop 205th Street.’ The worst thing is you can’t really react, you know? I can’t go, ‘Oh my god, somebody help me! I don’t belong on this train! That’s not my area up there!’ You can’t do that. When you get there, you gotta get out like, Alright, I’m home. Yeah. Good to be back on 6 trillionth street.” – Louis C.K.

“In New York, you are constantly faced with this very urgent, quick decision that you have to make about every 20 minutes. And it doesn’t matter where you are—indoors, outdoors, fuckin’ in a park, in a museum, in a restaurant…. About every 20 minutes, immediately, you have to go [gasp], Oh my god. Do I look at the most beautiful woman in the world or the craziest guy in the world? Look at her; she’s fucking beautiful! But look at him, he’s wearing orange footie pajamas and he’s got tinfoil on his head and he’s playing a Casio!” – David Cross

“This one businessman came flying down the stairs [towards a subway train I was on]. As he ran towards me, the doors started slowly coming together. He was carrying a briefcase in one hand and a suitcase in another. I could see him thinking, I can’t do what I normally do, which is stick out my hand and stop these doors, as I’ve got these bags. He just stuck out his head and the doors closed on his neck. Now, he wasn’t hurt. Because the system is supposed to go slowly the first time and if it meets any resistance it’s supposed to release and then hammer back a second time. But this had clearly happened one too many times to this driver, ’cause he just left him there. This man was left with his head in the train and his body and bags flapping around outside on the platform. You’ve never seen anyone de-age so fast in your life. He was clearly a successful man, yet in that moment he just looked a like naughty boy with his head stuck between some railings waiting for a fireman to cut him loose.” – John Oliver


P.S. After writing this post, I’ve realized that 90% of what I have here, I learned from my co-worker Kate. Even the links I got from following her on twitter. So, in the spirit of transparency, I wanted to say that and you should go follow her (if you do that kind of thing). She’s got a great sense of humor and as a writer, she’s a pleasure to read. As evidence by this hilarious bit she wrote about decoding Lorem Ipsum.

6 thoughts on “A Newbie’s Guide to New York City

  1. O.k. So I’ve lived in NYC for 27 years and you’ve been here for six weeks, but the next time I need some advice, I’m going to ask you! Cheers to the world’s quickest study!! – Jan

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