The New York Attitude

New York City is one of my favorite cities in the world. I have been there quite a few times now and every time I am amazed at the architecture, liveliness, cultural diversity and the speed at which people move around the city: 24 hours a day. Time seems to move faster here than anywhere else in the world.

Another thing that always amazes me is what they call the New York Attitude. Locals call it a mixture between tough, bravery and being overworked. They want to make it, to succeed in life, whatever it takes (even at the expense of others). To me the New York Attitude is being rude, very rude!

Once I made the mistake of taking a bus into Manhattan to my hotel. Instead of giving polite directions, the bus driver was extremely rude and shouting very loud at her passengers, mostly foreign tourists, to put their bags in the baggage compartment. I guess this can only happen in New York.

On that same visit, my friend Danny, a colleague who I was travelling with, made the mistake of filming a NYC police officer’s tow-away truck. Bad mistake! He almost got arrested for that. A couple of hours later, he got into an argument with a cashier at a restaurant over 25 cents, after leaving a generous tip on the table.

Now the reason why I write this post is that next week I will visit NYC again, this time with my wife who has never been there before. In a strange way I have been looking forward to the New York Attitude which to me is part of the whole New York experience.

It will start at the airport with officials looking at me with a “you’re not welcome” expression on their face. Then the cab driver, who sees every other car as a competitor who he needs to outsmart at all cost, using the taxi horn as his main weapon.
Staff at New York City hotels can be rude as well: “No, we are not ready for you yet, come back in a couple of hours. You want a storage space for your bags? We don’t have that here!” Need I go on?

The great thing about writing a personal development blog is that I can use my own life as an example on how to, or not, improve communication with others: how to live a better, more authentic life. While preparing for this post I have been thinking about a quote from Wayne Dyer:

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”

Doesn’t this apply to me as well, thinking about the New York Attitude? If I expect people to be rude, I will only see rude people. However, if I expect people to be nice, I will notice them too.

So, as a little experiment, next week, I will go to New York with a more open mind. Expecting people to be nice, patient and caring about others. Let’s see what happens. When I am back, I will let you know how my New York Attitude experiment went.

Update: The New New York Attitude

6 comments… add one
  • Carolyn Cordon May 17, 2009 @ 1:23

    I loved this blog post. I’m an Australian, never been to NY, not probably ever will, but I love your comments about attitude. If we look at life through grey coloured glasses, we will see a grey life.

    If you look through happy sunny glasses, that’s the life we’ll see.

    How did it go, that’s what I want to hear about.

  • Joseph Yi May 18, 2009 @ 20:52

    I loved this post! I have never been to NY and my gf always asks me to go. I think I will after reading this!

    Btw, I just stumbled and
    submitted your blog to
    . Hope it brings you a lot of new readers!

    – Joseph

  • Tim May 19, 2009 @ 0:22

    Wow Patrick, I am glad you dropped by my blog, as it prompted me to check out yours. I have only read the first article, and really like it; so much that I subscribed immediately. I look forward to reading more posts.
    It is true that whatever state of mind one is in will be reflected back at you. A genuine smile is definitely a winner. I actually visualise a previous situation where I was jovial and communicating well. If I take this state of mind into a new communication (at work, the supermarket, a hotel) I find the other persons response friendly.

  • Linda Cass Feb 20, 2010 @ 9:08

    While I appreciated reading your interpretation of New Yorkers I can say as one who has been to many cities; one can find rude people anywhere they go. In NYC people are very busy and very pushed. You are correct that time moves faster here (it would seem) than anywhere in the country. It’s a very non-forgiving, rushed life-style. It’s unfortunately easy to get run over if you’re a tourist and unfamiliar with hos the city works. And yet I find that New Yorkers (on average) are truly the same as anywhere else. Most are polite, yet hurried. Very hurried. I am originally from the South (where people are supposedly more polite and congenial) I can tell you that since moving to NYC 3 years ago I have found more polite people here than in the South. There is less pretense it would seem. But the pace is not as slow and there isn’t the time (unfortunately) to sit and talk to strangers and greet for extended periods of time. I am sorry your first experience in NYC was not a good one. I hope you found more pleasure in your second visit. My first visit to NYC was wonderful, I found people to be extremely friendly (for brief periods of time) I did run across a few rude ones. But nowhere near the amount that I have encountered in other places. I simply view New Yorkers as busy and yes rushed. Having lived here now for 3 years, I can understand. And I would live nowhere else.

    All the best to you in 2010 and enjoy your stay in NYC.

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