1. Cars hit bike messengers. Straight up. The wildest part about this is not the anecdotal regularity (“yeah, that happens all the time”), but the fact that homeboy just picked up his bike and kept going about his day. Didn’t swap information, the only thing that was exchanged was an almost passive “fuck you!”
2. Traffic signs are more like vague suggestions. Cars just kind of.. go with what they feel.
3. J-Walking is standard. You look stupid if you don’t j-walk in New York. You look like a real momma’s boy. J-walking is so ubiquitous that you’ll get caught up in other j-walkers and will join in so as not to get trampled. Because of this, it’s best to not be on your phone when crossing the street.
4. Trash bags are just on the street. There didn’t seem to be any.. like.. trash bin system in New York. At least at the southern tip of Manhattan. Huge plastic bags filled with actual trash were just piled high on the curb. It really gave the night a unique order. Eau de Garbáge.
5. “Street meat” isn’t a term for male prostitutes. “Yo, let’s get some street meat.” “I’m sorry?” Maybe someone was having fun with me but apparently that’s what they call the food vendors on the street. Which must be exasperating for people who actually are looking for male prostitutes.
6. Strangers really will curse you out in the middle of the street like it’s their morning coffee. No lie, the first subway trip I took, some old and otherwise average looking white guy said to my friend, “Watch where the fuck you’re going,” just because she lingered in front of him with her travel bag for half a second. He didn’t even break stride.
7. Everyone drinks coffee. I heard no juices, no frapps, no sodas, not much of anything other than “small coffee, please.” With sandwiches. With pizza. Sometimes the meal was just a cigarette.
8. Cigarettes are like $15. What the fuck.
9. Cigarettes are also hard to find. They don’t have them at liquor stores, markets, anything. After walking for like 10 minutes, I called my friend who was a local to voice my frustration and she said, “Yeah, you’ve gotta go to a bodega,” which pissed me off due in large part to the fact that I had only heard that word twice in my bullshit life.
10. People refer to distances in “blocks.” In LA, the standard is to refer to distance in minutes, not even miles. In New York City, it seemed that everything was “6 blocks” away or something. Now in LA, a block can be like half a mile so it took me a minute to appreciate that New York had standard sizes.
11. $1 pizza. It’s everywhere. Almost every corner. You can really get a full slice of not-terrible cheese pizza for a single buck. I’m not proud to say I took advantage of this almost every single time, but I can’t resist a good deal.
12. There are no gas stations. I passed maybe one my entire time in the city. At first it caught me off guard because in LA you can’t go a mile without passing at least five, the prices of which sometimes only differ by one infuriating penny. In NYC, I guess most mortals take the subway.
13. Public transit is reliable and consistent. LA public transit is god awful every single day. Some buses are on time, some aren’t. Some will be an hour late. Some will arrive 15 minutes early. Others will skip your stop entirely for no discernible reason. During my brief time in NYC, I never had to wait longer than ten minutes. Maybe I was lucky, but that kind of thing would be wild in LA unless you checked the schedule and your driver decided to do their job right. For those of you wondering why I don’t have a car in LA: fuck off.
14. Smiling is frowned upon. It’s like 50/50. Some people will smile back, others will stare at you almost as if you’re not even there. One girl on the Q train straight up snickered at me.