Tag Archives: Etiquette

See Something, Say Something: Shopping Etiquette

The other time this slogan goes into effect…During a sale at a New York City flagship. Because we are not in suburbia, ladies…

When you are in an epic line to pay and a girl “hops in” with her friend when you’re nearly at the register. And then doesn’t go up to pay at the same time as her friend. See something, Say something. Something along the lines of, “Oh I thought you were together since you cut me in line! You should be with her because the next register that opens up is mine!”

The approving eye contact and knowing nod of one listening sales associate will be all you need to feel sure you’ve done your daily duty to deal-hunting New Yorkers, old and new alike.

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Tactless Acts of Public Preening

Tuesday morning, en route to Jury Duty, I wrote a little poem. It goes like this:

Mirror, mirror
Or subway door,
Public preening
Is the worst.
Get a room, people!

This phenomenon, the Tactless Act of Public Preening, is quickly becoming one of my most amusing, befuddling, disturbing preoccupations. First, it was the woman who arrived to the Barnes and Noble Starbucks, took up a table and two chairs when people were waiting, and proceeded to apply three brand new, fresh-from-the-wrapper tubs of fancy creams to her face, neck, legs and ashy elbows. And then packed up and left.

Then it was this girl, who rode the entire E train stretch from 42nd Street–Port Authority to 14th Street looking at her reflection in the window, adjusting her dress. She tugged, she twisted, she tucked, she bloused, she shifted…on and on to no end. Until it had to end because she had to get off. Don’t get me wrong. It was a great dress. And I have a feeling it looked like J. Crew perfection when she left her apartment that morning. But she was compelled to primp. Something incredibly strange happens in New York when millions of people are around and one feels entirely anonymous. It’s the same phenomenon that allowed a man to fondle his wife’s foot across a booth during dinner in a Mexican restaurant. And the same syndrome that led this woman to believe she could try a heap (heap!) of bras on in front of a mirror in the middle of a SoHo Forever 21:

Yes, lady. It fits. As did the prior 9 bras you tried on over your white button down. Meanwhile, in the time it took you to try on said bras, I waited for, entered, used and exited the dressing room. Why not just take in six at a time? Try them on in the privacy of a dressing room? Where you can put them on as one would a real bra, underneath your clothes?

So my question is this: If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? And if a person tries on bras in public, are they no longer undergarments? Where is the urban line between private and public drawn? Maybe New Yorkers just forget they’re in public because so much of our day is spent in anonymity that we might as well be alone. Maybe, though, there is an element of intentional boundary blurring on a subconscious level so as not to feel so disconnected in a place where one is so easily set adrift.

I wanted desperately to tell the Bra Lady that the green was not her color. But then I hesitated. What if she wasn’t actually soliciting public feedback by dressing in a public venue?? What if this phenomena, so bizarrely inappropriate to me, is considered normal by native New Yorkers? What if, one day soon, I find myself finishing up my morning routine in the middle of a full subway car as strangers look on? So I snapped my picture and proceeded to lock the dressing room door behind me.

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Ride at Your Own Risk, Revisited

Dear Tri-State Area,

I thought we had finally come to an agreement, you and I. You would continue on as always and I would try to traverse more calmly through, below and around you. Unfortunately, we arrived today at an impasse aboard the pre-commute Uptown E train. For while calmly debarking the car, and following all codes of conduct as outlined in the Unofficial Book of Train Riding Protocol, which states, per Article I, that all “Local riding patrons should rise only once the car has arrived in the station; file orderly out of the central space between open doors; keep personal belongings and limbs close to the body as riders waiting to board the car part like the Red Sea,” I fell victim to an atrocious and unforgivable riding faux pas.

A very fat woman and an Asian man with an equally fat suitcase began their boarding, coming at me from both sides, like massive sea walls collapsing before the final Israelite could complete her crossing into the Promise Land (That’s me!) And with every ounce of calm I have slowly been cultivating during the past three years in New York, I continued onward and outward. This tactic has worked for me before; many riders will correct their egregious behavior by taking one step back when you resist. However, these two Goliaths were so set on moving into the damn car with their oversized selves that, from the depths within my soul, something stirred. And a full-sized New Yorker emerged. And, leaning forward and pushing with more force, I yelled at those a*holes with my hardest, baddest, streetest tone: WILL YOU RELAX FO A MINUTE!?

Which brings me back to my point, Tri-State Area, that you’ve got me all hot and bothered. Because just when I thought I could keep you at bay, you seem to have seeped into me. And the truth is, even though I’m a little scared by this phenomenon, I also kind of like it. Because as I triumphantly marched toward the escalator, headphones and pride still in tact, I listened; nobody was yelling back.

Apparently Yours Truly,
Your NewNewYorker

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Where Nobody Knows Your Name…

I have a developing theory about New Yorkers. Because, for the most part, we are all made to feel like a nobody at some point or other, and because more often than not, we will pass the day anonymous in an endless stream of crowds, people here often forget their manners.

During my recent visit back south to Texas, I was reminded of the very non-New York phenomenon of Do I Know You Paranoia. Common symptoms of DIKYP include constantly checking over your shoulder in shopping malls, monitoring the door at restaurants and generally being hyper-aware of running into someone you know. After all, it’s a small world, right? Best to be ready without food in your teeth and with a plastered on smile for an, “Oh my gosh! Hi!” at all times.

But in New York, things are different. Why worry about what others will say when you (usually safely) can assume nobody knows you, nobody cares what you’re doing and you’ll never see the same person twice? Why not give your wife a foot rub with one hand while munching on a Carne Asada with the other?

Here’s why: you may end up on some girl’s blog.

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Ride at Your Own Risk!

The morning commute provides me with my best and worst subway moments. If you do not understand the anxious rush of adrenaline that surges through my veins as I descend the escalator deep into the underbelly of the city as a voice declares, “A Manhattan-bound local train is now approaching the station,” then you haven’t really lived. Or at least, you haven’t really lived in my New York. It is at that precise moment when I forget my morals, forget the manners my southern upbringing instilled within me, forget the lady I was just moments before when I left my apartment, and turn into Crazy Commuter Woman. Rushing down the left side of the moving escalator, I curse under my breath at people standing on the right side with bags sticking out too far, the overweight fellow who is trying to hobble down the steps but doing so too slowly, the rogue idiot who did not get the memo that the left side is for MOVING. These are my enemies, and the train is Now Arriving!

It was in this state of sheer chaotic self-preservation that I found myself the other morning, trying to suppress a desire to scream at the slow moving young woman descending before me. The local train had arrived, I could see the flow of people out of its cars like the rush of water when floodgates open; all that stood between a smooth morning of making the train and an agony-filled, sweaty wait for the next one, was this lady. And she seemed not to care one bit, moseying her way down the final escalator steps, skimming against the railing that extends an extra ten feet for some inconspicuous crowd control. So I did what any not-so-new New Yorker would do—I pushed passed her. But don’t worry! I hadn’t forgotten my manners entirely! So as I turned my body sideways, sucked in my stomach and slid aggressively passed her, I screamed a jolly EXCUSE ME that I thought passed for politeness.

How wrong I was.

How naïve of me to think I could maintain a shred of humanity in the face of such urban adversity.

In the split second that this slight woman and I passed, as I began my lunge for the still-open car doors, I experienced the shot that would be heard around the world: the breeze of an arm deliberately winding up, the quick thwap of a hand whacking on the shoulder, the undeniable sound of assault.

As I slid into my seat, as the warning to Stand Clear of Closing Doors chimed, I had time to consider the cold, hard facts. That bitch HIT me!

Pulling away from the station, I knew the joke was on her.

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