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17 Sure Signs You're a Tourist in NYC

New York City
by Joey Parr Aug 26, 2016

1. You use a golf umbrella.

Sidewalks in New York aren’t built for suburb-sized umbrellas. Leave them at home and do what us locals do: buy a small, $5 black umbrella with the curved handle on the street corner or in a deli. It should last you exactly one and a half rainstorms, depending on the wind.

2. You confuse bluntness with rudeness.

We’re a friendly bunch and will help anyone who asks. But, we tell it like we see it. We walk fast, talk fast, and don’t linger for leisurely conversations with people we don’t know. If you ask us how to get to Times Square, we’re happy to help you. We just won’t tell you our life story. We’ve already moved on.

3. You don’t realize that real estate is a sport.

You may have noticed that it’s crowded here. All these people need a place to live, small and cramped though they might be. It makes us talk a lot about real estate, and what we pay in rent, competitively. It’s not unusual to hear someone asking their friend how much they are paying for their small one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn Heights. If your mouth falls open when the response is $2,500, you’ll look like a tourist. And, yes, that’s per month for one bedroom. A New Yorker will say, “That’s not bad.”

4. You stay in midtown Manhattan and think you’ve seen the city.

Radio City, Times Square, Broadway (the theater district, not the street), Rockefeller Center are all in Midtown. Go there, enjoy the sights. But, please, leave midtown to really get to know New York. We are a city of five boroughs filled with fascinating neighborhoods. Williamsburg, Park Slope, Harlem, Arthur Ave, Astoria, Upper West Side are neighborhoods with great history, interesting boutiques and neighborhood restaurants. If you really want to know New York, get out of the tourist areas and see where we live.

5. You can’t figure out how to walk down the sidewalk.

When you walk three or four persons across, you block the whole sidewalk and you cause a traffic jam. We aren’t out for a stroll. We’re trying to get somewhere and you are blocking our way. Heaven forbid you stop suddenly to look up, without warning. Or, you stop at a crosswalk waiting for the walk sign, instead of crossing when there are no cars. You will get run over and it will be your fault. There are sides for walking uptown and downtown on each sidewalk. You wouldn’t drive down the road into oncoming traffic, so don’t walk into oncoming traffic. You’ve been warned.

6. You take too long to order.

When you go to order at a deli or bagel shop or anywhere, know what you want. Don’t hold up the lunch or coffee line while you decide. You should have figured it out already. And another thing — don’t order a meat and cheese sandwich at a kosher deli.

7. You don’t know the local lingo.

Just because you speak English, doesn’t mean you speak New York. We don’t stand in line, we stand on line. We have a street called Houston but it’s not pronounced like the city in Texas. If you say anything other than Houston (pronounced Howston), no one will know what you’re talking about. And, by the way, the Village is Greenwich Village only. If you want to go to the East Village and ask about the Village, you’ll get the wrong directions. While we’re at it, uptown and downtown are both a direction for traffic and subways as well as destinations.

8. You don’t know the subway etiquette.

Don’t pull out subway maps and loudly try to figure where you’re going on your own. Simply ask us, we don’t usually bite. And, you won’t automatically become a mugging target. Once a subway comes, don’t stand in front of the subway doors. Stand to the side so people can get out. Once on the train, move to the center and take off your backpack. It’s simple, but seems to be complicated for those from out of town.

9. You wait in a long line.

Standing in a long line for a donut or at a bar that you saw on TV is a tourist affliction. We hope you enjoy the experience, while we’re sitting at a wonderful local bar down the street. We will, however, wait on line for morning caffeine and Shakespeare in the Park.

10. You proudly wear sports jerseys from non-New York teams.

Don’t. Do. It.

11. You haven’t learned to leave our celebrities alone.

Celebrities live here because we don’t bother them. Don’t harass them and screw it up for the rest of us.

12. You ask for restaurant recommendations without specifics.

There are thousands of restaurants in New York. Asking us for a restaurant recommendation without also telling us what kind of food, what neighborhood and what price range/atmosphere is an effort in futility. If you want help, you have to give us specifics. Give us a neighborhood and a type of food and we’ll help you out. Want tapas on the Upper West Side, go to Buceo 95. Craving Italian in the Village, go to Lupa. Whatever you do, do not eat in a chain restaurant you can find back home. That’s not what New York is about.

13. You can’t get a cab.

If the numbers on the roof are lit, the cab is available. If the Off Duty light is on, the cab won’t stop for you. If you want to hail a cab, don’t stand back on the sidewalk and timidly stick out your hand. Get out there with your arm fully raised so they can see you. If you need training, just watch a New Yorker’s taxi technique. It’s a beautiful art of attitude and arm positioning. Also, don’t steal someone else’s cab. That will piss off a New Yorker faster than a Boston Red Sox shirt. For your safety, get out of the cab on the sidewalk side. Getting out into traffic is dangerous and just makes drivers honk at you.

14. You give an address as a direction.

We don’t use addresses much. We give corners and blocks as directions. We don’t say meet me at Ivan Ramen at 600 11th Avenue. Instead, we say 11th Ave between 44th and 45th.

15. You insist on wearing cargo shorts and fanny packs.

Tourists stand out, not because you look different, but because you dress different. We dress casually in New York. Yes, sometimes we dress up, but usually, we’re pretty chill. That does not mean we dress sloppy. There is a difference. When you show up in your cargo shorts, t-shirt, running shoes and socks, we know you’re not from here.

16. You can’t order a bagel properly.

Bagels are a way of life in New York. They really are better than the ones you get in a chain store at home. Don’t order a chocolate chip or sundried tomato bagel because no self-respecting bagel store will have them. Ordering a cream cheese schmear means ordering a light amount of cream cheese. You want a normal amount, don’t say schmear. And definitely don’t ask for a schmear of lox.

17. You chimp out on tipping.

We tip in New York. We expect you to tip too.

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