Thursday, August 7, 2014

My move to the Self-Center of the Universe

The first thing to go after making the move to New York was subtle politeness.

It didn't take long, a week at most.

I remember the exact moment it happened. 

I hopped on the 4-5 train during rush hour at Grand Central after a long day at the office. I was carrying a book bag and I made the mistake of bumping into a lady standing behind me.

"Ummm, you just ran into me," she said.

"So..." I replied in a monotone, I hope you die, voice. I made sure my gaze outlasted hers. She looked away after which I did the same.

This reaction would have been unheard of for me, a five-foot-nothing kid from the burbs whose last physical altercation ended in a black eye, a lost girlfriend and a humiliated 13 year old.

I still haven't recovered.

I spent my first week in Gotham endlessly apologizing to people for minor inconveniences. "Oh I'm in your way, sorry, I was just looking at a map." "Excuse me, I need to reach around you, sorry." Mind if I squeeze through, sorry." "Oh, did I touch your elbow, its crowded in the elevator. Sorry,"

Fuck sorry.

In this city, too much politeness is seen as weakness and there is no place for weakness in a city filled with assholes.

At least on the subway.


  1. So, basically you're just another New York asshole now? Don't go to the dark side, sweet Nate!

    1. I refuse to be "one of them" Rachel.

  2. Oh that's bullcrap, nate! I lived in NYC 13 years and generally found New Yorkers to be friendly and polite (to the point that our year in Ann Arbor was a surprising letdown by comparison). The rule of thumb with new yorkers is they will be polite to you, so long as you are polite to them (but if you aren't, then watch out!)

    1. Karl, I don't believe you. Also, Ann Arbor blows unless you are of the Birkenstock sect. The trains during rush hour at GCS are miserable. And I am polite goddamnit! There are small glimpses of humanity, giving up a seat for an elderly for example but man, by and large... its a competitive sport.

  3. Replies
    1. Alas Jeff, I was the one who left with a black eye. One of the more profound events of my life.

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