1. There are no crosswalk buttons.
In Oklahoma, all the crosswalks have buttons you have to push (sometimes more than once) to make the crosswalk sign change. In New York, every single crosswalk is automatic. Every single one. The technology!
2. People here put straws in their pop cans.
How weird is that?? Maybe it’s a sanitation thing? IDK. All I know is that I was absolutely baffled when I bought a can of coke from a street vendor and he handed me a straw. Down south, us hicks drink our pops SANS straws, ya northern wussies!
3. Most stores are underground.
Boy, did I take for granted the giant lots of land preserved for single-story superstores like Walmart and Target in the suburbs. Here, you have to take six million escalators to get to the grocery section of K-Mart. Awesome news if we pull a District 13 from the Hunger Games and go completely underground one day. Bad news right now when I need to find the Halloween decorations real quick, but they are two stories down right next to the mole people epicenter.
4. This brings me to my next point: ESCALATORS.
This one drives me nuts! People here use the escalators like stairs. They walk up AND down the moving staircases. In Oklahoma, you just politely stand on your step until the escalator brings you to the top/bottom, but here people march past you, climbing to their destination. Isn’t that what stairs are for? Who has it right? Is there a right way to use an escalator? Escalators ≄stairs. Right?
Side note: There are also separate escalators just for carts in stores. I haven’t used a cart since I moved here, because I just can’t trust this system of putting my cart full of carefully chosen items into the dark unknown of the separate cart escalator.
5. Central Heat and Air is not a thing here.
I made a fool of myself the first day I moved into my apartment and asked my roommate what the big silver accordion in the corner was. I had never seen a radiator before. All the buildings in Oklahoma have central heat and air–you know, like a ventilation system with a thermostat and everything.
I now realize I was spoiled rotten growing up walking into a house cooled to a perfect 68 degrees fahrenheit in the summer and a warm 74 in the winter. Here, summer makes you want to die (unless you spring for a window unit, which I highly suggest you do) because most places only have fans. I haven’t experienced winter here yet, so I’ll update y’all on how this radiator thing works later.
6. Public Transit is actually amazing.
Guys, the subway is fascinating. There are so many trains going in different directions at all times of the day. You can take a train to a different state anytime you want! You can get really drunk and not have to worry about driving home! You can even take a special train called an “express” and get somewhere really fast! It’s incredible!
24 hours, 7 days a week–you can take a train just about anywhere! All for just $2.75 a ride! Who thought of this awesome system of underground trains to various points of interest in the city? Who coordinates all of these trains? Who designs all the cool stations? How does one become a subway driver? How do you honk the horn? These are the (probably very ignorant) questions I have for the MTA.
My previous experience with public transit occurred when my Grandma wanted to show my brother and I how life worked in the “olden days” so we took a sketchy bus that smelled like old hot dogs to Downtown Tulsa and back, so needless to say the trains here just absolutely blow my mind.
7. You can buy alcohol anywhere, anytime.
Picture this: me, walking into K-Mart (again), taking the escalator down 2 floors (again) to the grocery section, and finding GIANT CANS OF BEER AND BIG BOTTLES OF WINE COOLERS IN THE REFRIGERATERS!?! What!?? At K-Mart? Past 9 pm? Have I died and gone to Alcohol Heaven? I must be mistaken.
But alas, The Great State of New York doesn’t have the same strict alcohol laws as Oklahoma, so you can buy liquor and beer and everything in between just about anywhere at any time of the day. Want a Limerita the size of your head? No need to cross into Texas to buy some of that! No more rushing to the store before 9 pm to get some hard cider before a party.
You can even buy alcohol on Sunday’s! Who knew that people here drink on the Lord’s Day? Are you craving a nice glass of wine? No problem, walk down to the nearest CVS and buy yourself a bottle for $8. It’s absolutely amazing and I encourage my Oklahoma lawmakers to consider some making some serious changes.
8. Everything here is way more expensive.
Yes, a meal out without a drink will cost you a minimum of $15.00 and seeing a movie costs about $25.00 and your fave Starbucks drink is a dollar more expensive than it was back home. But, you also make more money. The minimum wage here is $9.75, and the tipped wage is $7.50. At the restaurant I worked in back home, the tipped wage was something like $2.00 an hour, meaning my bi-weekly paycheck almost always came out to $0.00 after taxes. So even though “the rent is too damn high,” it’s doable.
9. You can get anything delivered.
Hungover and can’t move? Two giant bottles of gatorade and a nice greasy meal can be at your door in 30 minutes. Or better yet, order some more alcohol to your doorstep! No time for groceries? Pick out what you want and then select when you want them brought to your apartment! You don’t have time to do laundry? Why not have it sent out to be washed and brought back to you?
The best advertisement for a delivery service here I saw once said: “Time is Money.” Simple, but genius. New Yorkers have this way of thinking down. If there’s a service that can save you time, someone here will have already thought of it. It’s terrible for my bank account, but awesome for my peace of mind. Back home, your delivery options are as follows: Papa John’s or Pizza Hut. That’s it.
10. Everything really is smaller and louder.
Everything is so cramped! I have to do ninja maneuvers to climb into my shower. My apartment kind of looks like a prison cell, except well-decorated. Sometimes the train is so crowded that you end up accidentally touching someone’s butt and then you hear the announcer say “a crowded train is no excuse for unwanted sexual contact” and you think “oh shit well I’m going to jail now” even though it definitely was an accident.
I find myself craving the open spaces of home–cue the chorus of Oklahoma! Plenty of room to swing a rope! Plenty of heart and plenty of hope! Oooooooooklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain.
Okay, I’m done. Sorry.
There’s no such thing as alone time or peace and quiet. Too often it seems as if my upstairs neighbors are doing some kind of step aerobics or playing basketball in their living room or hammering something into the floor. I’m not really sure what is actually happening up there. Like right now. I’m thinking about writing them a passive aggressive (but polite) note that says, “Hey, people live below you. Maybe 8 am on a Saturday isn’t the best time for your step aerobics.”
The trains (as amazing as they are) are loud AF. There are always sirens, there are always people yelling at each other on the streets (sometimes yelling happy things and sometimes yelling not so happy things). Once there was even a very creepy homeless man who whispered sweet nothings to me during an entire train ride until I could get up and find a different seat. Sometimes I just want to crawl in my closet and soak in the darkness and silence. Oh wait, I don’t have a closet.
Why do I live here again?