I love New York. I’ve traveled around the world and have favorite cities everywhere, but none has the energy of NYC. Sadly, few have as tarnished a reputation for rudeness, incivility, and general hostility as do the citizens of this magnificent city. Let me tell you – it ain’t true. Perhaps it was once, but places and people change, and this change for the better I’ve witnessed personally over nearly fifty years.
The first time I went to New York I was a teenager. I was terrified – I’d never been anywhere like it. It also didn’t help that my mother hurt her hand the first day we were there, so my first impression of NYC was from a New York emergency room.
The second time I was an adult on a business trip. This time it was adventurous. I had friends there who eased my way and made my trip a positive experience.
Since then I’ve traveled to New York several times on business and for pleasure, and it’s always a delight to me. And how the city has changed! Let me give you just two small examples from a visit just a few months ago:
The stereotype of the rude, unfriendly New Yorker? So far as my more recent experiences, this is a thing of the past. Everyone has been friendly and polite, and many have even initiated conversations! I rode down in an elevator with an older gentleman, a complete stranger, who smiled at me and wished me a good time on my visit. He was MUCH more typical than what we’ve come to expect from movies and TV.
And, more on point:
I was walking on Seventh Avenue in midtown Manhattan when I dropped my purse on the sidewalk. EVERYTHING went flying – keys, cash, credit cards – and immediately I had the stomach-dropping feeling that it would all be gone within seconds and that my Visa card would be visiting the five boroughs before I could even start to cry. Guess what? All those hard-walking, tough guy New Yorkers, men and women alike, stopped and helped me pick up everything, even small change. A moment later I was inside a building lobby, reassembling my stuff and resigning myself to the idea that I probably lost something valuable. I didn’t. They had picked up and returned every dollar bill, every credit card, every bit of small change and returned it to me. THAT’s today’s New York.
Stereotypes are only as strong as the credibility we feed them. Let ‘em starve.