NYC- The city of opportunity, ambition and cold, hard reality. The place where people tell it like it is, are honest (maybe to a fault) and will shove you in the subway if you’re walking too slow. So, is it true that if you can make it in NY you can make it anywhere?
I don’t know. But the more I travel and encounter people all over the world the more I realize that 99% of the population is made of 0% hustle. Literally people have no sense of urgency. Almost every situation I am in, whether it’s boarding a plane or the checkout lane at the supermarket- I’m working at my max capacity to move as quickly and efficiently as possible. I am hyper aware of how my presence is affecting someone’s day. Is my “let me take my sweet time” attitude making someone late for an important meeting? I want to be thoughtful!
When I look around, I’m the only one that seems to be acting this way. I’m constantly surrounded by people who seem to be moving at their slowest possible pace. I like to keep it moving and I believe that’s the New Yorker in me. Other people seem so content to just move as slowly and inefficiently as possible- even in high pressure situations people look sleepy and aloof. I had to board my last flight behind a man who could easily have been part of the cast of the Walking Dead– I wanted to shake him and scream “come on man theres 100 people behind you- WALK, load your luggage and sit the hell down”… Of course I didn’t. But it was hard to resist. Is that rude? Maybe… but isn’t it also rude to not take into account a time sensitive situation and focus on doing things quickly so the other 100 passengers don’t have to stand on the jetway in misery and have their flight delayed because you can’t put your luggage into the bin and sit down in a timely manner? I think so.
A lot of people see this “hustle” as a problem with New Yorkers. Always saying things like ” everyone’s always in such a rush” ” you don’t enjoy the moment” blah blah blah. I would argue that this hustle is an asset and it’s the asset that’s kept me ahead of the curve thus far in my life. I have a desire to get things done- to do them quickly and efficiently. The harder I work, the faster I work- the better I get. I compare it to a physical activity like running- if you just jog, the same speed and distance every day, you’ll never advance to running or make it to a marathon. It’s fine to be content to be a jogger- but if you want to get better you need to run faster and farther each time you run… That’s the New Yorker.
Aside from moving at a glacial pace, a lot of people are just detached- not connected to their surroundings- not aware. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to pick something up and return to someone who dropped it without noticing. People don’t seem to notice when they are being rude and getting dirty looks from those around them… This is important. You should know the impression you’re making. The guy on airplane next to me as we speak is yelling like he’s at a football match. On an airplane, when you are trapped in a closed capsule with strangers, USE YOUR INSIDE VOICE. I should NOT be able to hear you talking to the person next to you. He has not once noticed the 3000+ leering looks I’ve shot him in the past 2 hours. This is not trivial- it’s likely he doesn’t realize how he makes people feel in general in his life- and that’s a nasty quality.
I think NYC (and maybe this can be argued for most major cities, but NYC is the roughest I’ve ever been to) can teach you to do things in a way that doesn’t waste time, and that time is precious. If you move slowly, you’ll be the last one to arrive at an opportunity and that’s never a good thing. I am very grateful to my School Of Hard Knocks training from growing up in Brooklyn. I learned to take tough criticism and still love myself, to not miss a train (be on time), to keep it moving and look for the opportunities in life- not always expect them to be handed to me. Sometimes people paint New Yorkers as people who would run an old lady over on the sidewalk just to make a dime.. but thats not true.
Any New Yorker can tell you that as cut throat as we are we are kind of like a large pack of animals- and we don’t like when people bully our own. There’s a difference between expecting a young, able bodied person to be able to take their head up from their phone and act quickly in a crowded, tense situation and expecting an elderly person to. I think by and large New Yorkers are the most empathetic people I’ve ever met. We are tough to a point, but if an old lady needs help crossing the street we got her back. There’s almost a sense of camaraderie even though its a no BS, tell-it-like-it-is kinda town.
I think we should stop and smell the roses, definitely. But I also think we should hurry up and mow the lawn. I highly recommend that you spend some time in NYC and get a feel for the rhythm of it, see the way people with huge dreams and tight schedules juggle everything in the greatest city on earth. I think it will help to inspire you, motivate you and maybe help you realize that you are capable of more than you think and at least every once in a while, you should hurry up.
Every day, all over the world, every moment of the day, there are people acting a fool. They are standing on the escalator blocking the whole thing so you cannot pass; they are taking a dance class dressed for a music video shoot taking the whole thing WAY to seriously; they are cutting you in line; they’re letting their children run like wild animals through target, they do not have their money ready when they get to the drive thru window (even though there is a little sign that clearly requests that you have payment ready); they are cutting you off in traffic or coming to a full stop for no apparent reason before merging onto the parkway. These irresponsible members of society are everywhere and there is no one to keep them in check. So I propose this, we institute a “social responsibility officer” to monitor these not necessarily unlawful, but definitely unacceptable and annoying behaviors and alert the citizen to the infraction… and if no one would like the job, I nominate myself.
This week alone I have witnessed 3 noteworthy examples of social irresponsibility that went completely unpunished.
Case 1: THE PRICE-CHECK HOLD UP
So here I am at Target, minding my business, attempting to purchase this adorable watch that was on a sale for $8.00 marked down from $16.00. I’m standing behind three other customers on line number 6. The customer at the register currently has gathered every single baby seat that they sell in target, at least 8-10, and is asking the lady at the register how much each individual one costs. Now… here’s my problem(s) with this scenario: 1. There is a person at Target whose entire job is to put those convenient little price tags above or below EVERY single item in the store. That’s all he does all day is print little tags and slide them behind clear plastic holders so the consumer can read for themselves how much something will cost BEFORE they put it into their cart. 2. If you prefer not to read that little sticker, or prefer not to believe it is accurate, Target has gone as far as to put little personalized price-checker scanny machines all over the store, so that you can bring your 200 baby seats up to the price checker.. and scan them yourself.
Target has gone to these great lengths to avoid situations exactly like the one this socially inept individual has created. All these price checking mechanisms are around so that you don’t go up to the register and hold up a line full of people while harassing the poor underpaid cashier to price check every single item in your cart. So which baby seat did she choose? She did not even buy one.
CASE 2: THE FAST FOOD LINE DEBACLE
Matt and I find ourselves in line at Wendy’s because Matt has purchased a little keychain that entitles him to a free frosty with every purchase. We are at a “fast” food restaurant waiting in line for the better part of 12 minutes (in which time I could have grilled my own damn burger at home but that’s not the point) behind 5 or 6 other customers. Now, I don’t mind waiting in line but THIS I do mind. While we are waiting in line we all have the privilege of staring at this massive, bright menu complete with photos of fries, greasy burgers and other crap we shouldn’t be eating illuminated by a yellowing halogen bulb. So how should ones time be spent while waiting in line to place their order? By deciding what menu selection they would like to clog their arteries with… at least thats what one would think to be the most common sense pass time. However, at least 3 of the people got up to the front of the line, looked over at the person they were with and started to discuss what food they might like…”would you like the chicken sandwhich..” “the blah blah blahhhhh…” This conversation should have been going on during the time which you were waiting in line but had not yet reached the front of the line. This unprepared, non-sensical behavior is why we have lines in the first place…and if I was an “SRO” I would have stepped in.
CASE #3: THE PARENTAL CHECK OUT
We have all seen it.. a parent standing by while their kid licks the sidewalk, screams in public for no reason, punches an old man in the head or what have you. When we see it, we are all wondering the same thing– why doesn’t that parent step in and teach their child how to behave in public so they don’t grow up to think its cool to throw an entire bag of popcorn on the floor for no good reason. Maybe that parent has had enough for that day, or just given up in general but in any case I think it takes a village and someone should step in and handle it… and so this week, I did- in my first unofficial test as a “Social Responsibility Officer.”
Matt and I were on Hollywood Blvd leaving class around 9pm when a guy walked by with his young, possibly 6 year old, daughter on his shoulders. This child was screaming the word “no” 400 times a minute for NO REASON whatsoever.. and while she was on her father’s shoulders and walking in a group of 5 other relatives no one stopped to tell her to be quiet… so, I did. I yelled “hey”, shot her my meanest mom stare, and put my finger up to my lips to signal “be quiet”… and do you know what happened? She stopped yelling.