Three years in Manhattan: the ‘What I’ve Learned’ list

16 Nov

Recently I wrote a response to this post, which appeared on NYC Recession Diary, giving my own spin to a list of must-knows about life in the city. As you all know, when asked for advice from my readers, I’m always going to come down on the side of non-jadedness, spending wisely and bucking every cliché New York City has ever seen. Because why not?

So…how’d I do?

1. Walk fast. On the right, preferably. Bonus points for doing it without simultaneously texting.

2. This is a very expensive city, but what you spend and save is all about choices. The misery of credit card debt isn’t worth the fancy stuff we tell ourselves we deserve.

3. When you’ve been well-treated by anyone in customer service, the post office, the DMV or the drug store, a simple “Thank you. You’ve been very helpful” will make their day.

4. Get tested. Momma didn’t raise no fool.

5. Tempting as it may be, don’t talk back to cat-callers, rude pedestrians or anyone not acting the way you think they should. First of all, they don’t care what you think. Second of all, you never know who’s crazy, on drugs or carrying a weapon.

6. People here tell amazing stories. “How long have you lived here, and where are you from originally?” are great questions to get to know neighbors, new friends and coworkers.

7. Bike messengers and cabs appear to feel exempt from traffic laws. Never assume they will yield, see you or stop when the light turns red.

8. If you get into a livery cab, the only place you’re going is Rip-Off Central.

9. The bus is a great way to go crosstown, get your bearings and see the city — and the perfect way to escape the sweltering subway in August. Metrocard transfers are free between the bus and subway within two hours of when you first swiped.

10. Invest in a good pair of rain boots, and keep shoes at your desk to change into.

11. Hand sanitizer and public transportation are a match made in heaven.

12. Genuine is the new snarky. You don’t have to be a stereotype to make it here. I promise!

13. When you go out for group meals, ask for individual checks. The inevitable “If everyone paid, how are we still $100 short?” is a recipe for awkwardness among friends.

14. Look up, and look around — often. This is advice everyone gives, because it’s the best.

15. Don’t give money to anyone who stands there and shakes a cup. Do give to the singers, dancers and instrumentalists.

16. It’s OK to ignore the guilt-inducing folks with clipboards. You don’t have to talk to them to prove you care about the environment and education.

17. Don’t throw yourself between the closing doors to make the subway. It pisses people off, plus it hurts a lot.

18. Protect your hearing with earplugs at concerts and in those extra-screechy subway stations. (6 train at Union Square and Spring Street, I’m looking at you.)

19. Give a copy of your keys to someone you trust. Being locked out at 3 a.m. in the dead of winter is not smiles times.

20. Pay attention to your fixed costs. Having a super-swank apartment isn’t as much fun as having money to go out.

21. Don’t wear shoes in your apartment. Do you really want dog pee, poop and loogies on your hardwood?

22. Strongly encourage out-of-town guests to come with a to-do list. In the age of Google, no one you’ve agreed to let sleep on your couch should be allowed to show up and ask, “So, what are we doing today?”

What’s on your list?


6 Responses to “Three years in Manhattan: the ‘What I’ve Learned’ list”

  1. Kris 07/13 at 10:30 pm #

    I just have to say that I’ve been reading so many of your blogs for the first time tonight and absolutely love what you have to say! Thank you so much for writing these. 🙂 I am a NYC lover, particularly Brooklyn and try to visit as often as I can. I feel at home in the city and spend time with family who reside there, along with experiencing the real life of NYC, considering I’m not a tourist fan. I look forward to reading more of your blogs! Keep up the fantastic work! 🙂

  2. Phil 10/10 at 1:40 am #

    I learned some similar things about NYC when I first moved there in 2003. Here’s my notes about it:

    • YUDA 10/30 at 2:12 am #

      OK,I’M DONE. =)

  3. Amber Castro 07/02 at 9:18 pm #

    What do you mean by a “livery cab”?


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