Before I explore the various reasons as to why New Yorkers sometimes have a unique gift for rubbing people the wrong way, let me first tell you how great the City of New York is. You might say that I am biased as I am from the Big Apple, but that's not why I believe this city is the greatest city of all. As a New Yorker, however, born and raised in East Harlem, I am entitled to my opinion. Still, since first impressions are important, I insist on giving everyone the respect that they deserve.
New York City is quite unique. As they say, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. If you can't, you'll be leaving with your tail between your legs. New York has certainly earned a reputation as one of the world's most fascinating cities. The Big Apple isn't simply the commercial epicenter of the United States, it is the heart of American advertising, and the fashion, publishing, and broadcasting mecca of the world. It is the American melting pot of industry, commerce, immigration, and even religion. In short, it is America personified. That is why so many people visit and move here each year, to partake of its diversity, its immense culture and the wonders of the creativity of the human spirit that it displays.
As for the inhabitants of this enormous metropolis, 8,175,133 people according to the 2010 census, we have two groups. First there are the native New Yorkers such as myself who have strong emotional attachments to our roots. Next we have those who flock to New York, those who have gravitated to the brightest lights of the biggest city. They move to New York for many reasons, mainly because it's the best place in the world to seek the American Dream.
We must be fair in our evaluation of this great city, however. Certainly New York City is fantastic, but there are always drawbacks to living in any metropolis. New York's arteries are slowly calcifying with a dangerous blockage caused by too many people, and when the blood pressure rises, tempers and hostilities flare. New Yorkers, largely due to the aggravation of overpopulation, can be testy. As the city becomes progressively more crowded, tensions, nerves and even outright hostilities will continue to thrive. Since this is a tough city to live in, New Yorkers tend to possess a certain mental toughness. This attitude comes across as being obnoxious and rude. New Yorkers are therefore believed to have a crummy attitude, considered anti-social.
Face it, living in the Big Apple can be tough. As with any city, there are problems. Social animosities occur, there are political issues and financial meltdowns to deal with, there's crime, overcrowding, living standards, and many other daily problems. True New Yorkers accept these bumps in the road as par for the course. They adapt. They survive and thrive amidst a deluge of ongoing contingencies. That doesn't mean, of course, we don't gripe about these problems and many others.
Not only are we labeled as chronic complainers with attitudes, we're also considered out-spoken, bossy, arrogant, talkative or worse, impatient. But wouldn't you have an attitude if you tried to find an empty taxi day after day to no avail? Or a parking space? How about a simple seat on the subway? Does anyone like being crushed in the train next to someone who hasn't bathed for a week simply trying to get home from work? Doesn't that warrant a disparaging remark or two?
Sure, I've been ridiculed for my "Noo Yawk' accent. Maybe I do say "Fugheddaboudit! I ain't saying nuttin," or "Gedoutahea, yer pudding me on!" So! Wherever we go, we New Yorkers will always stand out. For good or ill, we are different, and that's what makes us so great.
Nonetheless, to categorize all New Yorkers as rude is an unfair misrepresentation. There has to be a polite New Yorker out there somewhere, right? Just kidding. Considering what we deal with on a daily basis and the sense of humor we have cultivated to cope with these daily hardships, we're extremely polite. What other city could have handled 9/11 with such courage, unity and grace?
So the next time you run into a so-called obnoxious, loud-mouthed New Yorker, remember 9/11. Maybe you'll find some respect for who New Yorkers really are.
With 13 years of research experience, History in all its manifestations is Miriam B. Medina's passion, and she loves nothing more than sharing what she learns with everyone. So be sure to check it out at http://thehistorybox.com/ny_city_directories.html, a one-stop resource center for writers, journalists, historians, teachers and students.