19 ways to not be bad at New York City
Mostly because it's fun to complain, but also because I'd hoped I might make some small dent in the assholery that’s on these streets daily, I started "Bad At New York" back in May.
And after three months of venting my frustrations with clueless tourists and inconsiderate locals, I've come up with this list of 19 things crucial to you not sucking at NYC.
Tip at least 20% in restaurants, every time, everywhere, no matter what the service was like, and shut up about it
I don’t wanna hear about your system or your philosophy about tipping. You’re in New York; 20% is the minimum. If something wasn’t perfect, maybe it’s because the server is dealing with eight other horrible tables. Give ‘em a break. Don’t complain, don’t tip less, just suck it up and have some class.
Do not be the person who takes pictures of homeless people like they're art or objects
Homeless people in NYC are not scenery for you to take snapshots of so you can make your Instagram feed seem real and gritty, or an opportunity for you to highlight how sensitive and noble you are for noticing them while the world races by. Leave them alone, drop them some cash, or buy them a burger. Those are your only options.
No one gives a crap that you're old and think New York was better when you were younger
Please, please, just shut up.
Unless it's literally subterranean, that ain't an "underground" NYC restaurant
Rule of thumb: if it’s in an NYC guidebook and has a website and a Facebook page and a Yelp listing, it probably isn't "underground".
Don't you dare say Williamsburg is an "artsy neighborhood"
Sure, maybe it was 10 or 20 years ago, but these days, Williamsburg has about as much culture and charm as the Financial District. The hipsters and artists have been displaced by yuppies. It’s the circle of life.
Go ahead and buy an “I Heart NY” t-shirt. Then put it away until you get home to not-New York.
Your friends back home will love it. Here, it just makes you look like a dumb tourist who probably says “gee willikers!” a lot. Have some dignity.
Do not talk to people with clipboards, and do not let a guy hand you a hip-hop CD on the street
Clipboard people: time wasters. Hip-hop CD guys: con artists. Your time and money are more valuable than that.
Subway etiquette, part 1mm: share the space
If you’re standing, take off your backpack, genius; it's bumping into everyone. Put it in front of you or on the floor between your feet. Don't hug the pole or lean your back on it. It's for all of us.
If you’re sitting, ladies, put your bag on your lap, not in the seat beside you. Gentlemen, close your freaking legs. People shouldn't need to keep writing about this.
Don’t block the subway stairs halfway down so you can try to get a cell phone signal
I never understand this one. Just go back outside! You’re not even through the turnstile yet; you’re not stuck there!
For the love of God, let everyone get out of the subway car before you go barging in
This is the absolute worst, and both tourists and locals seem to be equally guilty. We can’t all go first, genius. Be civilized and wait your turn.
Don't be the person who starts digging for their subway ticket while standing in front of the turnstile
You’ll notice a running theme here; the vast majority of my advice about existing in NYC consists of: get out of the way, stay out of the way, and always be asking yourself if you're in the way. While I'm at it...
Always, always, always make sure you're not blocking the sidewalk
No texting and walking if you can’t do it while keeping your head on a swivel. Pull over to look at your map. You get three seconds max to stop and take a picture. Don’t walk side-by-side in groups of three or more. And never, ever, ever just stop in the middle of the sidewalk. Why do people do that? It's as if they need a written guide or something.
If you are visiting (or if you’re very new to NYC), get the hell out of Midtown for at least part of your stay
Midtown Manhattan is not New York CIty. Get your ass to the Lower East Side. Soho. Harlem. Chinatown. Coney Island. Prospect Park. Take the Staten Island Ferry. Go to the Bronx Zoo. Catch a ball game in Queens. Just get the hell out of Midtown.
At museums, if you're a tourist, you need to pay the full recommended donation
Museums in NYC are amazing, and expensive. The privilege of paying less should be reserved for broke-ass college students and locals who aren't well off. Not tourists.
If you’re going to carry an umbrella, it better be no bigger than a trash can lid
Remember -- back before it was raining -- how crowded the sidewalk was? Do you seriously believe carrying a giant beach umbrella is going to work out okay?
If you think it’s safe to cross the street just because someone else is crossing the street, you're going to get yourself killed
I see this all the time: a crowd of people is waiting to cross, a few intrepid locals see there's just enough room to run out between this car and that one, they go for it, and the rest of the sheep follow them to certain death (well, certain honking and cursing and jumping back in fright). Look at the traffic. Wait for the walk sign. It takes real practice to be able to cross like pro.
Become a MetroCard-swiping master
If you can’t master that single, perfect swiping motion, you’re not allowed to use the subway from 8am-10am and 4pm-8pm.
Avoid big chain restaurants, especially anything near Times Square
You can’t swing a dead sewer gator in this town without hitting an amazing independent restaurant. You’re doing yourself a real disservice if you stick to Applebee’s, Sbarro, etc.
If you think it's fun to complain about NYC while you're here, please go home
Oh boy, it sure is crowded/expensive/noisy/mean here, huh? Not like your paradise back home. Sounds like you’d be much happier if you were back there. We sure as hell would be.