April 04, 2007

Overheard in New York

This is a HUGE pet-peeve of mine and, unfortunately, I work near Times Square, so I encounter it a lot. I'm pleased to see someone doing something about it, but I still think that in order to be effective, one needs an electric cattle prod.

A tourist mom with three teens in tow halts in the middle of the block, causing two suits and several other people to crash into them.

Suit #1: For the love of God, move, you idiots! There are people walking behind you!

Tourist mom: You don't have to be so rude!

Suit #2: He's rude? You clearly see this is a busy sidewalk, and yet you stop dead in the middle and block all traffic!

Tourist mom: He didn't have to say it so rude -- we are not from around here!

Suit #1: And does that somehow excuse your being idiots and stopping in the middle of a busy street?

Tourist mom: At least we are not so rude in Tennessee!

Suit #2: That explains the idiocy, but it still isn't an excuse.

Tourist mom: That was unnecessary!

Suit #1: Perhaps, but it's true.

Suit #2: Here, maybe this is more polite: Welcome to New York. Slow walking idiots prone to stopping for no reason stay to the fucking right of busy sidewalks, and don't get in the way of the non-mentally impaired locals. Now fuck off.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at April 4, 2007 11:38 AM | TrackBack

Erik doesn't usually wear a suit...

Posted by: Sarah at April 4, 2007 03:37 PM

And the morel of the story is....."Just because you wear a suit does not mean you have any class".

Posted by: sompopo at April 4, 2007 11:21 PM

I would say that the moral of the story is "Just because you walk upright doesn't mean you have a brain."

I hate those dipshits who stop in the middle of the sidewalk and I'm glad those guys stuck it to them. It's just like the people who stop at the top of the subway stairs to look around.

The mom and kids are clearly in the wrong here.

Posted by: Flibby at April 5, 2007 08:03 AM

Hmm. I encounter the same annoyances everyday here in DC as well, particularly on the metro, but I guess I think there's a way to inform someone they are in the wrong and a way to just be a dick. Glad to see the reputation of New Yorkers being dicks is justified. I don't think there is a law that requires you to continue moving at all times on a busy sidewalk. She's a tourist from Tennessee in the biggest tourist area in NYC. Shocker!

I agree it's annoying to have people who don't know their way impede your commute to work, but maybe the guy in the suit could have said, hey if you're going to stop, can you please not block the flow of traffic. His prerogative, but I don't give him any snaps for being a shithead. I'm guessing this exchange actually took longer than a few seconds and so he himself probably stopped to blast her out. If I were behind him, I'd probably be just as annoyed that he didn't keep moving but felt it was his NY duty to bitch out a tourist. Anyone who lives in any city knows the pains of tourists. You just deal with it. I don't see a reason to go out of your way to be a prick about it.

Posted by: Britton at April 5, 2007 10:18 AM

You're mistaken: No one is surprised that there are tourists or tourists acting like jackasses. It's a common enough situation. This isn't shock and awe you're seeing. It's justified anger and frustration.

Those tourists were probably walking more slowly than the rest of traffic and walking shoulder to shoulder, too.

They were being dicks and shitheads first.

This galls me in all contexts: people who act completely oblivious to other people and their surroundings.

These are the same people who leave their candy wrappers and cups in the movie theater. These people litter. They stop to talk to their friends in a narrow hall or doorway. They stop short on busy sidewalks. They walk to the front of long lines and pretend to be confused when someone tells them to go to the back -- but sometimes they're successful in cutting in line. They're people who drive slowly in the left lane. They're people who speed up to keep others from passing. They talk loudly on their cellphone in stores and elevators. They're people who wait for 10 minutes in line at McDonald's and still don't know what they want when they get to the cashier.

They're assholes.

These are people whose discourtesy is so extreme that it can only be borne of willful, practiced negligence and stupidity.

It isn't relevant that those two suits had to stop to make their point to that idiot woman and those window-licker children.

The suits didn't stop because they felt it was their duty. They did it because they were rightfully angry at those people for being so rude.

You can try to be polite if you want to, but it's not required. And it's more likely that being polite will not effectively educate the offenders.

I promise: those boobs won't soon forget their encounter with those suits and what caused it.

Further, the reputation that New Yorkers are dicks is misapplied. I've found them to be generally quiet but direct people. They are quick to anger, yes, but I have yet to see a New Yorker yell at anyone for no reason or be rude to someone who wasn't already being an asshat.

Posted by: Flibby at April 5, 2007 01:02 PM

Again - ignoring the fact that it isn't a law that people on a sidewalk are required to walk at any particular pace or are not allowed to stop whenever they choose to look around. They were in Times Square, and I was using sarcasm when I said "Shocker". It's tourist hell. I've been there. I hate walking through there. I hate staying in hotels there because you can never get out of that area without it taking forever. But it's where tourists who don't know the "rules" go when they go to NYC. I work near the Zoo here and while it frustrates me to no end that every single day parents and their kids block the escalators to the subway, I understand they are there to go to the zoo and are probably from somewhere where they don't have escalators...or subways...or zoos. I politely say excuse me, can you stand to the right so people can get by who don't want to stand here. I don't have to call someone a fucking idiot to get my point across. I will bet you it is highly unlikely either of those suits would have opened their mouths had it been some beefy muscular guy stopping in their way. Call it what you want, needed, necessary or fantastic...but in the end, it's still just rude and typical of exactly the type of attitude people think New Yorkers have, whether its true or not.

Posted by: Britton at April 5, 2007 02:55 PM

The rules of walking anywhere are all the same: Move with the traffic. Move to the side if you want to stop or if you find yourself unable to keep up.

The United States is pretty homogenous in this respect; I have yet to observe any place that doesn't follow these guidelines.

So, why do tourists feel like they don't have to abide by these common courtesies?

And these people weren't merely in the way. They were walking and the stopped short causing a collision with other foot traffic.

It's not relevant what the suits would have done if it were anyone else in their way. If it were Mother Theresa in their way (and alive) I would still think it acceptable for them to return her discourtesy with discourtesy of their own.

Courtesy exists so that people can navigate common situations easily and without conflict. These aren't merely guidelines for speech but also action. If people break the "rules" then they are being rude and asking for conflict. You may not choose to be rude to people who are rude to you, but depending on how severe the offense, I think it advisable to respond with a corresponding level of annoyance and anger.

If someone is merely in the way, I typically do as you do and say "excuse me." If they stop in my way and I'm able to get around them without hitting them, I usually hiss or sigh audibly at the inconvenience. But if someone stops short and it causes me to bump into them, I will get angry and respond with words or even by simply refusing to attempt to miss them or avoid knocking them over. As mentioned, I think calling those people "fucking idiots" is acceptable.

I am something of an anomaly, I suppose. I've always felt perfectly at home in New York. I've found people to be helpful and even friendly. Of course, I have a profound appreciation for the fact that they mind their own business and they're direct about what they want out of a situation.

And I suppose if the worst people have to say about New Yorkers, then it says more to me about the sort of person they are than it does about New York.

Posted by: Flibby at April 5, 2007 05:03 PM

I've personally never had any issues with New Yorkers when I've been there - but that doesn't mean that isn't the perception many non-New Yorkers have of those from the city. Besides, there are SO many people, particularly in manhattan who aren't even from NYC. It's like DC - very few people I know here are FROM here.

I guess I was just raised differently. Exchanging discourtesy for discourtesy solves nothing beyond making you feel better about yourself for being as much of an asshole as the person who has offended you. I can't believe that this woman with her children deliberately stopped in order to ruin the mornings of all of those behind her. I'm sure she would have preferred not being bumped into - who wants that? She probably was just awestruck, dazed and confused by the masses of people and all the things to see in Times Square. I'm sure when you live there and work there day in and day out it sometimes loses its wonderment but for tourists, it is still something to behold. And they forget their manners I suppose. It's just obscene to be offensive to people in such a way as calling them what he called them. Especially a mother in front of her children. It's simply rude. But to each his own. I'm sure she won't forget it. And next time she wants to go on vacation with her kids, she'll probably go spend her money somewhere else like Disneyworld rather than in NYC. As much as we hate tourists, without them frankly I'd be out of a job.

Posted by: Britton at April 6, 2007 09:52 AM

When I meet a native New Yorker, I always tease them about being one of the six because there are so few of them here compared to the number of people who aren't from here.

I didn't say that the woman and those teenagers stopped for the purpose of being in the way. They stopped for whatever reason popped into their heads and they did so without any consideration for those around them.

And I don't contest the fact the Times Square is an impressive sight. But I have never been the person who is so mindnumb that I forget that there are other people around me. That is the foundation of courtesy.

They were neglectful, not malicious, sure. Personally, those people make me more angry than the deliberate jackasses.

That woman and her teenagers -- not wee children -- isn't a victim here. They're inconsiderate fools who have the audacity to be upset when their lack of courtesy offends those around them. After all, she could have stopped the confrontation after being scolded, but she didn't.

And this isn't a rant against tourists. This is a rant against these people in every context and situation where they demonstrate a profound lack of consciousness for their situation.

They make me want to scream, "PAY ATTENTION!!!" It's not hard. It's not unreasonable. In fact, it's the lowest expectation I can hold for any human being.

New Yorkers just like to add "fuck" to their screaming. A lot.

Posted by: Flibby at April 6, 2007 01:09 PM

Flibby......what happened to you???Man I love you but you have turned into such a dang city-boy!?!?!
Are you going to ban me,too??

Posted by: The Brat at April 8, 2007 10:18 PM

Flibby........they are tourists.They have NEVER seen what you see every day.Cut them a slack and wonder how you'd b amazed by all the purdy sights in NYC!
Don't be a Red-Neck!

Posted by: The Brat at April 8, 2007 10:23 PM

The first time I visited New York, I didn't act like that. Again, just because you're a tourist doesn't mean you have to be rude like that.

I understand if you're walking a little slowly or you're confused about how to get where you want to go. But step aside!

And of course I won't ban you, Brat, unless you're going to come to my blog and sneer at me like that asshole Eric.

(Further, you already know I'm a city boy!)

Posted by: Flibby at April 9, 2007 07:14 AM