Reflections on New York City

28 June 2016 · 3 minute read · travel, rc and nyc

This is one of the nicest cities I’ve ever been to. And by that I mean the people in New York City are lovely.

This came as kind of a shock to me. Everyone talks about how New Yorkers are rude, or how this is a dangerous place. I have never felt that. I have been scared precisely once: walking through “downtown Brooklyn” at 3am, past a construction site on a dimly lit alley I rounded a hard corner and a plastic bag jumped out at me. The wind can be pretty terrifying sometimes, right?

One thing that is clear is that New Yorkers don’t fuck around. Things move quickly in the sense that you have to know what you’re doing. You are allowed to stop and think on the sidewalk, but move to the side if you’re going to do that. If you don’t know what you want, don’t step up to the counter. (I made that mistake once; during my first week I didn’t realise there were different types of bagels. The guy behind the counter showed infinite patience as I eventually settled on “plain”.)

This attitude infuses every aspect of life. On the subway, people offer their seats readily - and quickly. There’s no faux politeness here; every action is genuine.

I also know more vendors here than I think I knew in Hobart, despite living there ten years. There are probably five places where I’m regular enough to have a chat with the staff when things are quiet (and can just say yes please to “same old same old” when things are busy). These realtionships are genuine too. People aren’t nice because they will get in trouble with their boss otherwise. People are just nice.

I don’t for a moment assume that people aren’t trying to sell me stuff, or that these are friendships. But there’s no bullshit.

This has also had an impact on my life. I am, by nature, indecisive. Terribly so; ask anyone who knows me. My mother often laments the times we have met for lunch and failed to decide where to actually get lunch before lunchtime is over. That doesn’t fly here, so I don’t do it.

For me, being here has been part of a huge personal transformation. Doing that in New York has made me a more decisive person. That’s a good change. I also don’t feel like there’s any great drive to get out of this city. In Hobart I always had a lingering feeling of wanting to spend some time in a “better”/more serious place. That being successful in Hobart is just small-time success. Being in New York makes me feel like (oh god I can’t believe I’m actually going to type this) if I can make it here, I can (yup, it’s coming) make it anywhere.