We’re having a heat wave. It’s summer so it’s not a surprise but it also magnifies the need to learn important New York rules. When it’s very hot people everywhere (tourists in particular) can be incredibly irritating-- especially when they are not following the rules that every New Yorker knows, without having to be told.
In Honor of a True Heat wave....
Here are just a few:
When you are ride on the subway, and of course want to find a seat, no matter how tempting it is, you never get on a car that looks empty. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the air-conditioning is probably not working on that car—which is why it is empty. The second, (I hope there are not people reading this who are related to New York derelicts because I don’t want anyone to be offended by this reality), the smell of someone who has not bathed in months, maybe years, is intensified in the heat. And, because they have no place to go—they find comfort on an air-conditioned subway car. Trust me it’s not someplace you want to sit.
When you get on the subway you never stand in front of the door. This is an enormous No, No. You stand to the side and let people off the train before you take one step on to the car. Just today, Jordan spent twenty minutes venting about a three second event – and she was right to do so. It seems that when the train stopped at 50th Street, this enormous guy got right on and stood in the middle of the door preventing all the people who wanted to get off from leaving, forcing this hearty young man to hurl himself against the guy and the door and reopening the passage so the people who desired to do so—could get out.
When you are riding on an escalator – especially in a public place, you never and I mean never, stand to the left. People walk to the left. If you choose to remain in one place you stand to the right—thereby leaving a passage clear for those who wish to remain mobile. It’s the New York version of driving on the right and passing to the left—except in Massachusetts where everyone drives in the left hand lane and the only possibility for passing is in the right, which is against the law in many states especially Connecticut. I can remember when I was in graduate school and we had no money, I never considered myself poor until I moved to DC and lived in a Fiat 128 station wagon, I would drive eight miles from Waltham to Boston everyday. Sometimes I just ignored the tolls because in those days there were no cameras, but that’s another story. Anyway, I would drive intending to stay in the right and pass on the left, but everyone commuting to Boston was in the left and totally backed up—so I drove in the right lane, pretty much unencumbered by traffic.
In the US, people, while annoyed, don’t do much to combat this driving technique. But in Europe, if you are blocking the way, they will come at you lights flashing and often horn blasting. It is incredibly frightening and not something you want to subject yourself to, but when you break the rules (wherever) you need to pay the price, even if it means being borne down upon by a 123 miles per hour Mercedes.
Here's another favorite. When you are visiting NY never stand on a corner and look around or up -- especially if people are trying to cross the street. There is almost nothing (except all the other things previously mentioned) that angers a resident more than people blocking the sidewalk when they are trying to cross the street.
There are also rules in our apartment—since we are all living in a one bathroom place. I will not go into details about that because I am sure it will be a blob by the end of the summer—but when you live in New York you don’t have garbage disposals. Needless to say, that means you never leave garbage in the apartment for more than a few hours or it will get really ripe. We don’t have an ice cube maker either. This means that you never empty an ice cube tray without refilling it. What we do is empty the trays into a plastic bag and then keep a good supply of ice out of the trays. It is a rule punishable by not going to the theate,r to leave the apartment with no ice. Kind of like leaving the milk carton the fridge empty (while giving the impression that there IS milk, when there isn’t) or not refilling the filtered water. Oh my, there is a great deal to remember.
There are other rules like not leaving the air-conditioners on during the day because it’s so expensive to run them while no one is here (Con Ed says its .25 cents an hour per machine.. do them math!)—but that’s David’s rule which we pretty much ignore because who wants to come into an apartment that is as hot as the street?
These are just a few of the rules we think you should know before making a trip to the City. And if you break them, do it at your own peril because you never know what to expect from New Yorkers, especially when they’re having a heat wave. We’re just sayin...Iris