Three unacceptable faces of New York (or ‘Am I becoming a grumpy old man?’)

The majority of people in New York are wonderful people who are nice to their mothers, who wash behind their ears, and who open doors for strangers. Those people, however, were not part of my day. Instead I found myself surrounded by the kind of folk who got picked last for school sports, driving me crazy at every street corner. In particular, three stood out from the crowd for their ability to irritate at ten paces:

Sloppy Slurpy Subway Man
If you are a middle aged man with an ability to wear a jacket and trousers in shades of green that are similarly redolent of rotting algae but not quite the same as each other, it’s fair to say that you almost certainly don’t care what other people think. What is less clear is why – given that you plainly didn’t spend much time infront of the mirror in the morning – you were unable to eat breakfast in the comfort of your own home. I was prepared to forgive you when you pulled out a granola bar and ate it open-mouthed while you sat next to me, even though the chewing and grinding were enough to drown out the dubiously mellifluous tones of Hillary Duff coming from the iPod of the woman on the other side of me. But when you reached into your bag, pulled out a second bar and probably allowed the people opposite to see the texture of the half chewed bar in your mouth, I’d had enough. The cheese stick that came out next, and which made you sound like a pasturing cow, was a step too far. As was the second one. And the third, if I’m being honest. By the time you sat slurping on your bottle of water, each glug being amplified by your copious gob, I was ready to take the plastic bottle and ram it somewhere that would almost certainly have rendered the need for recycling completely unnecessary.

Irate Rebel Without A Clue
When you walked into the doctor’s surgery ranting at the husband who was old enough to be your dad, I had a feeling that you were going to get on my nerves. But little could I have realised quite how annoying you would be. It’s one thing to be annoyed at ‘the bitch’ who wasn’t able to help you get an appointment, but maybe I’m old fashioned enough not to be so vocal when ‘the bitch’ in question is sitting behind a desk approximately ten yards from where you’re sitting. Perhaps you’re just angry to be sitting at all, given that you responded to the receptionist’s polite suggestion that you take a seat while she completes your paperwork with the line “I much prefer standing, actually.” You think you’re a rebel who flies in the face of authority, and stands up for the people. You’re not. You’re just an irritating woman who actually lives in one of the poshest parts of Brooklyn, and isn’t afraid who hears you admit it.

The Rotund Narcoleptic
Look, I know it’s actually your glands, and that you’re unfortunate enough to have a slow metabolism. But when you fall asleep on the subway with crumbs around your mouth, people are probably going to start looking at you. And when you start snoring loudly enough for people in Chicago to hear you, you’re not exactly helping yourself out. I wouldn’t mind if it was 11.45pm and you were catching a late train after a long and arduous day in the office. But doing your best Rip Van Winkle impression at 6.30pm seems excessive if you ask me. Oh, and by the way, if in the future your subway sleeping causes you to drop your trashy magazine from your hand and it falls on the subway floor, and somebody picks it up for you, you might want to say thank you instead of grunting in such a way that suggests it was the good samaritan’s fault in the first place.

New York is packed full of characters, and like a dung magnet, it appears I attract them all. If I end up doing a ten stretch at some point during my time in this city, you’ll know why.

6 thoughts on “Three unacceptable faces of New York (or ‘Am I becoming a grumpy old man?’)

  1. Cheryl

    i know where slurpy subway man had dinner. we were in the same restaurant and he was sitting at the table next to mine. how hard is it really to keep one’s mouth closed while eating?

  2. Limey

    Sounds eerily similar to my experiences of people in Boston. Just unreal rudeness and lack of social awareness. People in the Northeast have this real “F**k you, I am who I am!” attitude. Whereas in Britain, we’re all so overly aware of how our presence might be a bother to someone else that we apologize just for being near to someone! We should find a nice halfway point where we’re confident but polite.

  3. Expat Mum

    I don’t know which one to pick as the worst. I share your utter distase for people who eat messily and noisily, although banning my husband from the kitchen when he’s eating his bloody grape nuts is probably taking it a bit too far.

  4. Stella Jones

    Oh how funny you are and so true it is!! I live in the south – Tennessee, where everyone is oh so polite….well nearly. To us Brits, it is so hard when people don’t say please or thank you. I’m always struggling with it. When you go into a shop and the person behind the counter says how much the item costs, there’s never a please or a thank you and it sounds so WRONG. Oh well, vive le difference.
    Blessings Star

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