5 New York City Etiquette Tips

Sean Pavone / (Shutterstock.com)
Sean Pavone / (Shutterstock.com)

New York City is great, isn’t it? It’s fast-paced, it’s exciting, and it’s unique. It’s arguably one of the greatest cities in the world, and I consider myself lucky to be a native New Yorker.

That said, NYC is also one of the most frustrating, irritating, and stress-inducing places in the world. Whether you live here, work here, hang out here—or all three—you know how obnoxious it can be. Here are five tips for making life here easier on everyone.

1. Get out of my way.

Manhattan is synonymous with one thing: CROWDS. It is one of the busiest, most fast-paced place in the world. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3PM or 3AM; the city streets are always overcrowded with pedestrians, which can make it VERY difficult to maneuver around. That said, HEY SLOWPOKES—most of us in NYC are on a mission! We’re headed to work, rushing to make our trains, or are frantically trying to catch a cab. So would you do us a favor and pick up the damn pace? My 88-year-old grandmother walks faster than you.

It’d also be great if you could not stop DEAD right smack in the middle of the sidewalk. Here’s a tip: Think of walking on a New York City street the same way you think about driving on a major highway. You have to maintain a steady pace, you cannot stop moving at any time, and if you must insist on moving at snail speed, at least move over to the right so the rest of us can go left and get around you. Sound good? Wonderful.

And I get it—NYC is a beautiful place. There are so many amazing sights and landmarks and historical buildings to gawk at. But I get infuriated when I see someone (read: tourist) stopping in their tracks to take a picture of nothing. Dude, that’s not a famous landmark you’re photographing…it’s a Duane Reade.

2. No human chains.

There’s nothing worse than trying to rush down a city block only to see what is best described as a “human chain” in front of you. This occurs when a group of people decides not only to walk at a glacial pace, but to walk in a horizontal form together, creating an impossible force field that you cannot get past. Even worse? When said individuals are holding hands and have their arms linked; making it even harder to get through.

So break it up, kids! Spread out, walk in a single file, I don’t care. But for the love of God, stop making a human chain on the sidewalk!

3. Stop. Blowing. Smoke. In. My. Face.

Cigarettes are disgusting. If you’re a smoker and reading this… sorry? But not really. I choose to live my life as a non-smoker — and one of the perks of that (aside from my healthy lungs) is that I don’t have to smell like an ash tray. So why is it that that every time I’m walking around the city, there are 900 people near me blowing their cigarette smoke in my face?

I’m standing on the corner waiting to cross the street, and the person next to me lights up a Marlboro. I’m walking toward my subway station and the person in front of me takes a drag and the wind—which of course is blowing in MY direction—carries the smoke straight into my nostrils. A guy leaning up against a building decides to exhale the SECOND I walk by him.

Don’t believe whatever you read or see on TV about the number of smokers in America decreasing. It is a bald-faced lie. EVERYONE SMOKES. Literally, everyone. (Except me.)

You wanna smoke? Fine. Go right ahead; it’s a free country. But do us non-smokers a favor and be cognizant of where you’re blowing out those toxic fumes. Thanks!

4. Umbrellas are not weapons, so be careful with them.

One of the worst times to commute or walk around New York City is when it’s raining. It’s frustrating because not only do you have to get around in an already overpopulated city, NOW you’ve got to do it with a sea of umbrellas around you.

Umbrellas with sharp, pointy NEEDLES poking out of the sides.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve damn near lost an eye or at the very least ended up with a damaged cornea because of this. BE CAREFUL WHEN WALKING AROUND WITH AN UMBRELLA, DUMMIES. Yes, they are beneficial and useful in rain, but if you’re not careful they become dangerous weapons.

Oh, and when you’re under scaffolding and therefore NOT at risk for getting wet, shut that thing, will ya?

5. Just say no to wheeled luggage.

Wheeled effing…luggage. The bane of my existence. Ninety-three percent of the pedestrians you’ll encounter in NYC are lugging one of these things around. (I made up that statistic.)

Wheeled luggage is incredibly annoying, always in the way, and a complete safety hazard as I tend to trip over it on a daily basis. I’m not an idiot: I understand that there are quite a few travelers roaming around Manhattan, and there’s a need for these things. BUT WHY DOES NYC CONSTANTLY LOOK LIKE LAGUARDIA AIRPORT? You cannot ALL be traveling with so many items that you need to wheel around your bag. If it’s not absolutely necessary, please—I BEG of you—leave the wheeled luggage at home.

So there you have it. These are my top NYC-related pet peeves, but I’m sure I missed a ton. The truth is, I love this city and so I’m often happy to tolerate its shortcomings. But every once in a while, especially if you’ve been working or living here long enough, you reach your breaking point and feel like you’re about to snap.

What annoys YOU about commuting/living/existing in New York City? Let me know in the comments! TC mark

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