As a suburbanite living in New York for the summer, I’ve been forced to adjust to a particular “city-dweller” lifestyle, defined by certain trends and patterns. First, allow me to beat you to the punchline: I’m a transplant, a poser, a regular “Carrie Bradshaw” wannabe, which, some might argue, is the highest notch on the wannabe scale, considering the show’s glamorized vision of New York and urban living. Do I have the authority to discuss this topic in-depth? Probably not, but that won’t stop me from pointing out the true reasoning behind the glasses-on-heads-down behavior of modern NYC residents.
1. Wear Sunglasses
Why You Think They Do It: to protect their eyes from the sun
Why They Actually Do It: to stop flying city rubbish
If an alien species were to crash land in the center of Manhattan and look around, he/she/it might assume that the human race was composed of bug-eyed clones fueled by the same white-cup beverage. At least, that’s how I imagine an outsider would view the thousands of coffee-touting New Yorkers with their diverse array of sunglasses. While one might logically assume the plastic discs you secure over your eyes are used to protect your corneas from the sun’s deadly rays, in reality, sunglasses have a much different purpose. That is, to block the specks of city debris that rocket towards your face as you walk down the sidewalk. One minute, you’re jamming out to the latest Kesha song without a care in the world, and the next, you’re scratching your eyes like a wild animal, wondering how dust could be so excruciatingly painful. Sunglasses are like the Jupiter of the accessory world. They stop all the deadly comets from the space around you from reaching their final destination: your eyeballs.
2. Recklessly Crash Into You On the Streets
Why You Think They Do It: because they’re mean
Why They Actually Do It: they don’t want to waste time by waiting
If you think you can part crowds with your confident gait and don’t-touch-me look in New York City, think again. Every walk down the street feels like a new game of chicken, which ultimately ends with one party crashing into the other, mumbling some vulgar insult or annoyed apology before rushing away. Such interactions have, unrightfully, left New Yorkers with a reputation for being nasty and rude. While that may certainly be the case, that’s not the real reason behind their reckless sidewalk etiquette. Such collisions are really the result of their desire to not waste time. Why stop at a crosswalk when you can play leapfrog in the middle of the road, weave in and out of sidewalk traffic, and speed through alleyways to get to work a minute early?
3. Wear Earbuds Everywhere
Why You Think They Do It: they want to enjoy pleasant music on their journey
Why They Actually Do It: they hate you, and everyone else
Earbuds are an essential part of the NYC getup, and not because all its residents like catching up on the new J-Lo album on the morning commute. No, earbuds are, in fact, the passive-aggressive signal for “Please Don’t Talk To Me.” Like magic or bad breath, they ward off everyone from disgustingly friendly morning people to street vendors looking to sell counterfeit jewelry or scarves made of rat fur found in the subway.
4. Wear Black Clothing
Why You Think They Do It: to look corporate
Why They Actually Do It: it’s easier
Nothing says “corporate professional” like a bleak-looking blazer-and-slacks combo, that’s for sure, but that’s not really why you see an army of navy or gray outfits marching along the streets every morning. What New Yorkers really are, and what they constantly try to deny by chugging coffee and complaining about their busy schedules, is lazy. They don’t want to spend 30 minutes picking out an outfit anymore than the next person. Blazers and slacks are the fastest, easiest way to say “I’m definitely a responsible adult” while also secretly saying “I like fashion but I have too many meetings to really care.
5. Eat Alone
Why You Think They Do It: they don’t have friends in the city that are available
Why They Actually Do It: ain’t nobody got time for coordinated meet-ups
When the only interruption from day-long, back-to-back meetings is a one-hour lunch break, there’s no way you’re going to waste 20 minutes of it trying to guide your friend over the phone to the bagel shop you like. What might seem abnormal everywhere else (eating alone) is commonplace in the city and, in many cases, almost preferred. Sometimes a quiet lunch with a book and a burger is the best reprieve from a busy work schedule.
6. Brunch Daily
Why You Think They Do It: brunch is delicious
Why They Actually Do It: brunch is delicious
And you should never, ever question that.
Maybe these rules apply to other cities. I don’t know. I’m just a yuppie Carrie Bradshaw trying to understand this big city that I eventually want to call home. If that means daily brunches, black blazers, and occasional sidewalk collisions, then so be it.