The Broad is Back!

June 13, 2009

New Yorkers Rock!

Filed under: American culture,New Broads — by maggiec @ 11:31 am
Tags: ,

OK, so not the most original of titles, but I just have to say here and now: I’m proud to be a New Yorker because they are the greatest folks I’ve ever met.

Little back story: this week I was walking and texting, not the smartest move, but there it is.  I didn’t know a bike lane had been installed on 8th Ave in Manhattan.  I knew, but I’d forgotten.  Not looking where I was going, I bumped into the curb for the bike lane and sprawled across it, face first.  Dainty, I know.

A nice young man helped me up and walked me to the sidewalk, where I realized that my nose was bleeding.  Started digging in my purse for a tissue when he said, I’m pretty sure it’s not just your nose.

There was a lovely gash in my forehead–have no idea what I hit it on–and if you know anything about head wounds, they bleed at lot.  So there I was, dripping blood from my forehead and nose, most likely looking quite the sight.

And New Yorkers came through!  People stopped to help.  I didn’t want to go into the Starbucks on the corner because I figured I looked unappetizing, but also, I don’t like Starbucks.  Didn’t want to be a hypocrite!  So I stood out of the flow of traffic trying to stop the bleeding.

One nice young man went into three or four stores to find me a first aid kit, a number of people asked if they should call an ambulance.  People offered phones, tissues, advice and sympathy.   The woman who works in Starbucks came out to bring me into their bathroom! If I wasn’t so flustered, I would have really enjoyed it.

Finally staunched the flow in the bathroom and washed the blood off my face and hands.  When I got out, the nice young man of the first aid kit search had left a bandaid and alcohol wipes with a woman outside the bathroom.  He’d left, and I never knew his name, and I never properly thanked him.  So this is for him, and for all the other people who stopped and cared.

And the people who stopped were all colors, all ages, just like I would expect from a New York cross section.  Some of the people had accents–both foreign and heavy New Yorkese–but all showed sympathy and caring.

People like to call New York a cold city.  It can be sometimes, I admit.  But I didn’t see that the other day. I saw the warmth and caring that is part of our make-up.  Lest the rest of Americans say, “Hey! What about us?” I want to add that this is an American trait, for sure.  But outsiders don’t expect it from New Yorkers.

Everyone knows that New Yorkers, and all Americans, pull together when facing a crisis–from bombings to natural disasters, we’re there for one another. (God knows our government too often isn’t, but it’s also part of the American tradition–rely on yourselves first.)  But we’re also there for the little things: a clumsy woman falling on the sidewalk, a lost child, a lost tourist.  We really do like to help one another on some level.

And it’s not just days like the one I had that make me love New Yorkers.  Every day people connect with one another–perhaps it’s not deeply, but we talk to one another.  Conversations between strangers happen in New York all the time.  We complain, offer advice, give opinions, just pass the time of day.  Anywhere a group of New Yorkers is waiting, there will be spontaneous conversations.  Some of my most interesting conversations happen on the subway.

Not all New Yorkers are talkers, but if I address a stranger, no one immediately thinks I’m crazy.  And all New Yorkers know, it’s in the approach, as well.  We do know the difference between friendly and crazy!

In general this applies to Americans, but even we have our differences.  Just last weekend I had a former student from Massachusetts crashing on my couch for a night.  He said what he likes about New York is that no one thinks you’re crazy if you make polite conversation.  He was brought up in New England, and even he finds the people there cold.  Of course, Swedes I know think even New Englanders are overly friendly, so it’s all in the perspective!

I do know that American friendliness can cause intercultural communication problems.  Being friendly doesn’t make us friends.  I know this confuses many Asian immigrants and visitors who often mention to me how Americans are hypocrites with their friendliness.  I try to explain that it’s not hypocrisy–it’s the grease that keeps the wheels of our society turning as smoothly as they do–but cultures are hard things to understand sometimes.

No real point today–just a celebration of New Yorkers. I am prejudiced, I know, but I don’t think it’s because I’m from here–a third generation New Yorker–that I can say quite honestly, there’s no other city like it in the world.


1 Comment »

  1. Speechless and touched. And I found myself nodding with the line “Being friendly doesn’t make us friends.”

    Comment by Julia — June 18, 2009 @ 3:01 pm |Reply

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