As I walked home from school drop-off, this morning, I had to climb over snow mountains, most of which were just piles of trash frozen in snow. (The last blizzard came late on a Friday night, which was trash night. Hundreds, nay thousands, of bags were subsequently buried.) This, in addition to the disgusting, brown ice drifts lining every street, and the innumerable dog poop baggies tossed onto snow drifts by irresponsible dog owners, make me think, “People who don’t live here can’t understand what we tolerate.”
While I can’t speak for every New Yorker, there are some absurd realities of living here that most of my friends outside New York find hilarious/can’t comprehend.
1. ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING
For those of us idiot car owners who can’t afford $450/month parking slots, there’s this option: free street parking. But…twice a week you sit in your car for 90 minutes waiting to move for the street cleaner. Further, cops walk by twice in that 90 minutes, ready to slap $125 tickets on unoccupied cars. When the street sweeper comes, the entire block of parked cars zip diagonally out of their spot, let the street sweeper go by, then zip back in. Like a zipper…or a street of automobile synchronized swimmers. It’s hilarious and aggravating. But it’s free. And for this blogging daddy, it spells 90 minutes of silence in the car…or sheer hell when the kids sit with you in the car.
2. RATS IN PLAYGROUNDS. SIGH.
Once I saw a dead rat underneath the platform at our favorite playground. I urped a tiny bit…and just turned back to double-tasking my kids with my phone. Whaddyagonnado? Another morning in another favorite playground, I witnessed the aftermath of a rat genocide. Seriously, there were a dozen disgusting rat holes all around these shrub plantings (unreachable by children, unless they hopped the 3-foot barricade) and there were dead rats lying near all the burrows. I urped a bit…and kept pushing my kids on the swings. But you know what? It’s just life in NYC. Someone’s on it, right? Hope so.
3. CATCHING DOG POOP
New Yorkers step over homeless people, elbow tourists, and consider themselves the pinnacle of taste and style. But both SoHo stiletto-wearers and Upper East Side grande dames unashamedly pick up dog feces. We’re outdoorsy like that.
4. CO-OP BOARDS
In life, keeping private information is so vital. But when renting or buying many apartments in NYC, you hand over your social security number, two years’ of tax information, salary, and pooping schedule to complete strangers. They peruse this info, judge the hell out of you, and then just toss your personal information into the trash for any homeless person to steal, the next day. I digress. Essentially, you submit all financial/tax information to a building’s nosy, rule-following, no-fun student council. These future neighbors ask whether you flush toilets in the middle of the night, if you plan to get a dog, when you slam doors, and how often you plan to have ANY visitor. You answer falsely in every case, painting yourself as a respectful, well-scented recluse they’ll never see or hear. It’s intrusive, nerve-racking, and potentially discriminatory. But that’s just the way it goes in NYC. Discrimination.
5. CULTURAL BELLIGERENCE
Everybody has a bone to pick. Bicyclists, grannies, yippy dogs, deliverymen. Everyone is looking for a reason to yell at strangers. It’s free therapy.
6. PRICING CONDESCENSION
Picture it: New Yorker walks into a bar in Anywhere, USA, and says, “A beer for $4? How cuuuuuuuuuuuute.” We smirk to ourselves that everywhere is such a bargain. But we’re still choosing to be price-gauged (in every way) by the Big Apple.
New Yorkers are savagely defensive of their neighborhoods and sanctimoniously opinionated about others. Outsiders see no difference between the Upper West Side and Astoria, or LES and DUMBO, or The Heights (either Washington or Brooklyn). But for New Yorkers, it might each neighborhood is as different as Weimar Germany and the Han Dynasty.
8. DISDAIN FOR “BRIDGE AND TUNNEL”
Our urban egotism is already staggering, but we’re the worst when we sneer at “bridge and tunnel”…those who commute to flood bars, theatres and restaurants on weekends…via bridges and tunnels. But before you roll your eyes and defend B&T, just come spend a Halloween, St. Pat’s or SantaCon weekend, here (or this Saturday night). You’ll sneer at B&T, too.
9. MINI SUPER MARKETS
You know how grocery stores in foreign countries are fascinating? Ditto in NYC. Our grocery stores are laughably claustrophobic. Ain’t no Safeways or Albertson’s in NYC. Ours are just over-sized delis or bodegas: narrow canyons between towering shelves of food with kitchen accoutrements dangling from the ceiling. You won’t be able to reach that rubber whisk hanging between the cat litter and the truffle oil. But we know how to use our space.
10. SKIRTING RULES
There’s a catch-22 for new arrivals in NYC. You need a local ID to turn on your power/cable or open a bank account. But to get a local ID, you have to have a power/cable bill or have a local bank account. This means everyone in NYC has to charm their aunt-once-removed to claim you as their tenant and lie that you’ve lived on her floor, behind the couch for the past 3 years. THEN you claim local residency to open a bank account. It’s all absurd. Everyone’s skirting the rules. Dog-eat-dog, baby. Dog-eat-dog.
11. BANGING STEAM PIPES
Just like in the movies, our steam pipes and radiators hiss and bang deafeningly. You’re woken at 5:30 when the boiler comes on and you are roused thinking, “Is this for real?” But within a month, your REM cycles coordinate with the thrice-nightly garbage trucks, fire trucks raging past your window, and the happy-in-love couple knocking boots upstairs. Suddenly, the banging/hissing radiator is but a sweet lullaby accompanying you back to fitful sleep.
12. THE SIZE OF OUR KITCHEN GARBAGE CANS
Lastly, but certainly not least, our trash bins accommodate plastic grocery bags measured in ounces, not Hefty bags measured in gallons. We have to empty them almost daily or they over flow and invite more pests like mice, roaches or meddlesome neighbors.
What have I forgotten, New Yorkers? I know you have opinions. Feel free to share (and correct me, if you MUST. Because I know you must.)