In light of the latest suspicious package left on public transit, which led to a shutdown of Times Square at peak commuting time (and, surely, got everybody’s nerves up in a bunch, yet again, not to mention, is there enough coffee in the world for all of this?), it’s time for a little PSA. Here are 10 things that we really need to stop doing. Call it etiquette, call it a movement for the betterment of society. Call it what you will. We’re guilty of some, ourselves.
10. Please stop leaving your shit in places it does not belong. We don’t care if it’s a suitcase, a McDonald’s bag with a half-eaten burger in it, a pile of vomit from that time you just couldn’t help it. As you learned on your 4th grade field trip to the nature preserve, you don’t leave your trash behind. Pick up after yourself. We’re tired of having to call 311 about your suspicious package that’s really an aging Samsonite you felt like letting the bus driver take care of. He does not want your shit, either!
9. Men — and we’re singling you out because we’ve never seen a woman do this, but women, if you do this, this is for you, too (and you are disgusting) — STOP SPITTING ON THE SIDEWALK AND STREET. This is repugnant behavior. Beyond that, it’s incomprehensible. Is your body so compromised that you must rid it of its own saliva regularly? Or are you just trying to be obnoxious? (See #10: Please stop leaving your shit in places it does not belong.)
8. Hey, people who work for “good causes” by standing in the middle of the sidewalk with a clipboard and asking us if we believe that homelessness should continue or if we want to fight child abuse. Of course we don’t think homelessness should continue! Of course we hate children being abused! What we don’t like is your passive agressive questioning technique, and the fact that you think that you can trick us into stopping and signing your petition/giving you money with it. Get off the streets, and onto a computer, where you can send us an email reminder to donate that we can simply delete without having to step around you. (Similarly, yes, we do like comedy, and we’re happy to tell someone where we got our hair done, but it’s not you.)
7. We’re not sure these people are really New Yorkers, but they seem to live here, so we’ll address them as such: Please do not stand directly behind us as we wait to board the elevator. This is creepy, particularly when there is no one else there. Further, if we are in line (on line, if you must) at Duane Reade or the taco stand, please allow for a berth based on the size of an average human. Step back! You’re freaking us out, and you’re certainly not helping the line move faster. 6. Stop being so judgmental. In New York, we’re supposed to be open to things. We’re supposed to not even look twice at that guy in the crazy pirate get-up with the parrot riding a cat that’s walking a dog on his shoulder (doesn’t he look just like Ryan Gosling?). And so we don’t, because that would reveal a weakness in our souls, and instead we judge those we know, those we barely know, those we’ve considered knowing, and those we once knew and judged out of favor. Judge if you must, but give people a fighting chance to make a second impression before you retreat back to the small-town behaviors you ostensibly came here to escape.
5. Restaurants are full of landmines, but the simple rules are these: Tip properly (this is for you to decide, but really, less than 20 percent is problematic in our book, and particularly if you’re on a date, not a good look). When dining with friends, don’t insist on calculating your portion of the check to the penny. Similarly, if you’re dining with friends who, say, don’t drink, or eat (why you would do this is beyond us, but we’re attempting open-mindedness in honor of this list), put in a little more because you clearly cost more in that situation. Do the right thing.
4. Asshole with the car and the the highly impressive bass: Please stop driving in my neighborhood, any neighborhood, with your windows rolled down blasting that song we used to dance to at the discoteca in Spain while we were studying abroad junior year and mostly intoxicated on piña y malibus. This does not give the impression you are hoping to achieve! (You may blast, however, showtunes or ’50s classics for 3 minutes at a time, especially if you are driving a lovingly restored vintage convertible and it is a beautiful sunny afternoon.)
3. On the subject of cars. You are in a car! Oh, you lucky sot. This means, sure, you are annoyed by the numerous traffic inefficiencies that plague our city, but this does not mean that you should take it out on those around you by honking excessively (this does nothing), turning your vehicle into pedestrians when clearly they have a walk sign, or heckling them hooliganishly from the confines of your four-wheeled base station. Come on. You’ve got wheels — go somewhere else.
2. Let’s put an end to New Yorker-on-New Yorker crime, crimes of back-stabbing, social climbing, social jousting, networking each other into oblivion, working each other into the oblivious, and bragging (humble or otherwise) each other to death. We have something special! We are all here! Can’t we love each other, realize the goods and the bads of living in this crazy test-tube melting-pot shit-show of an environment, and, if and when it gets so horribly hamster-wheel that we have to take it out on each other with a battle to the superior, get out — fall foliage! We hear it’s lovely — or at least take a quick time-out to remember why we’re here, we why love being here, and how, in times of trouble, we take care of each other? (No, we don’t want a hug.)
1. About the expression “Only in New York”: Sorry to disabuse you of this notion, but this is not a real thing and has no basis in fact. Stop saying it for anything that might be ever so slightly off-the-wall or crazy or for which you simply can’t find another adjective. A drunk Santa in the subway, in June!? Only in New York! A real, live peacock, escaped from the zoo!? Only in New York! A person, walking to work, in the rain, without an umbrella!? Only in New York! There is surely another adjective, there’s a world of ’em, we hear, that actually means something. Saying “Only in New York” just makes you look like a — horrors — tourist. You don’t want that.