I’m a New Yorker, and your rules do not apply to me

One thing that you have to say about New Yorkers is that they don’t lack self-confidence. I have never met a phalanx of people that are so certain of their right to existence. Or indeed, so convinced that the city in which they live is the greatest on Earth. Suggest to a New Yorker that you might consider living somewhere else at some point in your life, and you’ll see them snort derisively before surreptitiously adding you to the list that they always carry with them entitled ‘People To Cross The Road Away From When You Spot Them On The Street’. (Newcomers to this site will be interested to know that New Yorkers aren’t legally allowed onto the streets of the city until they have at least 87 names on their personal list.)

There is not a single argument you could use with probably 90% of born-and-raised New Yorkers that will convince them that there could possibly be anywhere else that is more worth living than here. And plenty of the people who have made New York their adopted home would agree, their systems finally conquered by a city which steamrollers all before it.

Of course, one of the problems with such swaggering self-belief is that some New Yorkers can have an occasional tendency to take themselves too seriously. Beware the person who tries to make an (admittedly weak) joke at the expense of New York, or criticises anything from the weather to the transport system. Responses can vary from the blank look that says “I don’t like this, but for your sake I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is the legendary ‘British wit’ we hear so much about” to the thirty minute diatribe about exactly which of your orifices the offended person will use to ensure your opinions never see sunlight again.

The other issue is that there are some New Yorkers who seem to believe that rules or common courtesies do not apply to them, and that they are an optional part of life or merely apply to tourists/foreigners/anyone but them. Whether it’s parking in places they’re not supposed to or, you know, not saying thank you when somebody holds the door open for them, some New Yorkers simply don’t like doing what they’re told to or what’s expected of them.

Take, for instance, my Saturday afternoon. Heading towards Battery Park City, we walked through a walled-off pedestrian path created by a construction company to allow people to pass through their site unheeded. Repeated giant neon orange signs told cyclists that they could NOT ride their bikes through the path, and that they had to DISMOUNT. In the three minutes it took us to walk the length of the path, we must have been passed by at least eight cyclists who were firmly in the saddle. One of whom had the temerity to “beep beep” us out of the way.

Not with a horn or bell, I hasten to add. No no, he just used the words “beep beep”.

As the fifth cyclist went past, I’d had enough, and using my best passive-aggressive posture, pondered aloud to The Youngest about the inability of New Yorkers to read. The Special One rolled her eyes, I remembered that some Americans carry guns, and The Youngest rued the day her mum had ever met that strange man from Britain. 

Meanwhile the cyclist rode off into the sunset. I’d like to think he had a sheepish look on his face, but he’d probably just realiszed that he’d left the iron on when he left the house that morning.

PS If I don’t get a comment from a New Yorker saying “yeah, but why should you have to get off your bike in that situation” I am going to be sorely disappointed.

9 thoughts on “I’m a New Yorker, and your rules do not apply to me

  1. Beeping Cyclist

    You got it all wrong. The signs are made in New Jersey. People dont know how to write what they mean there. New Yorkers understand that and factor it when they read such signs.

  2. jinksy

    People can’t read signs like that in UK either – think it’s a kind of word blindness that comes on whenever a sign shows a modicum of logical thinking…

  3. NFAH

    We have had several construction zone near me here and one blind intersection with a permanent sign, and I have never once seen anyone dismount at any of these points. I live in one of the most bike-friendly cities in England and the cyclists can’t all be visiting New Yorkers!

  4. Beep! Beep! I'm a Jeep!

    Next time get out of my bike’s way!

    And, rules are made for the visitors.

  5. Dylan Post author

    Beeping Cyclist – ah the ol’ NYC trick…blame it on New Jersey!

    Jinksy/NFAH – I have no doubt that British cyclists are just as bad. Although I’m yet to hear one say “beep beep”….grrrr.

    That said, Iota, I would love to hear an SUV driver lean out of their window and say “beep beep” instead of using the horn!

    Beep Beep – next time I’m jamming a stick in your spokes, OK?

  6. Penney

    It is SO true! I made the mistake of living on Long Island for two years (ugh, don’t ask me why…) and they might just be worse… I once saw someone drive around a roadblock (over the curb, mind you!) to get off the LIE – in their defense, it was a-whole-nother mile until the next exit!

  7. Uly

    What you do in that situation is you stand perfectly still and turn s l o w l y around to look at the guy on the bike. Then you wait. After he beep-beeps again you go “Excuse me. We’re *walking* here. This isn’t a bike path, and you’re gonna have to wait” and turn your back on him. Don’t act as though you’re worried he’ll run you down – he won’t. Might curse at you.

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