Jaded New Yorker Stories

I was just thinking about this one time out back at Yaffa Cafe.

We were sitting there eating then we heard some fighting in one of the tenements. There was some screaming a “You fucking bitch” and then a loud bang, and dead silence. The entire crowd at the cafe started cracking up and went back to eating. I always found that a little disturbing, though I participated.

So I was wondering what jaded New York behavior has had you nonplussed in your time in the city.


True story: About ten years ago, I was walking down Fifth Avenue, opposite the library. Crowded sidewalk; I’m on my lunch break and would really like to get across the street before the light changes. Among the crowds, I notice a seven-foot tall Frankenstein’s monster. Not someone in a rubber mask, but a really realistic looking one: makeup, headgear, clothes, everything. I kinda nudged him to one said and said, “excuse me, I’d like to make this light,” and then I noticed that not one person was even turning around to give him a second look.

Poor monster! In all the movies, the villagers were screaming and chasing him with flaming torches: in New York, he couldn’t even raise one eyebrow.

On a trip to New York city, walking down a street in Manhattan: an elderly gentleman collapses and falls half on the sidewalk and half on the street. Everyone just keeps on walking. (The person was dressed in old clothing and unshaven, so he might have been a “bum”.)

Wow, that’s nuts Arnold. I know a few people who would have stopped.

Another story I just remembered. We gave my bike to my old roommate who in turn gave it to a guy who worked for her from Japan to borrow. While out riding it he got hit by a taxi, and while he was out cold the bike was stolen.


Hey, I collapse on the sidewalks ALLA TIME.

If someone stopped and tried to pick me up, my eyelids would flutter and I would snarl “tourist!!!

“…the city makes up for its hazards and its deficiencies by supplying its citizens with massive doses of a supplementary vitamin – the sense of belonging to something unique, cosmopolitan, mighty and unparalleled.” – from E.B. White, Here is New York

A thread like this cannot pass without a mention of Kitty Genovese.

Zev Steinhardt

I’ve only been to the City a few times, but each time I’ve been witness to the phenomenon of the jaded New Yorker.

While in high school we took a class trip to NYC over Easter break. We arrive by train and make our way to street level. As we’re leaving the station, in the middle of the largest crowd of people I had heretofore seen, I see people actually stepping over the body of a man who is laying on the sidewalk. They aren’t even bothering to walk around him. Pretty eye opening experience for a 17 year old from Virginia.

On a return trip to visit friends my then wife (who had never visited before) is told “Don’t pay any attention to the panhandlers. Just keep walking. Don’t look at them or acknowledge their existence.” We make our way to the Village and as we’re exiting a store a panhandler asks my wife for some change. She ignores him and keeps walking. He then starts with “Oh, so now you’re ignoring me. Like I’m not even here. Is that it? Like I’m some piece of human garbage, etc. etc. etc.” My wife, taken aback, reaches in her purse and takes our her wallet. He promptly snatches it and runs off. Our New York friends, very nonchallantly, say “We told you not to do that, didn’t we?”

Jeez, way to suck the air out of the room, Zev!

I once worked in the ground floor of the Empire State Building for 3 weeks before I noticed. One day I was on my lunch break and I was thinking “hmmm, 34th street… isn’t the Empire State Building somewhere around here? <looks up> Oh.”

Another time, I was having a fight with my <visiting native Virginian> then-boyfriend. We were at the corner of W. 8th & Broadway when he had the nerve to say “stop it, you’re making a scene!” I laughed and at the top of my lungs screamed “WHY DO I EVEN EXIST!?” of coourse no one even glanced up at us. Scene my tuckus.

Someone threw a rock at me in my neighborhood once, and I didn’t even bat an eye. I would have had I gotten hit again, but once? Let’s just say it was a particularly constipated bird.

I’ll try to think of more…

Isn’t there a city ordinance against being polite?

Ah—But I have perfected the art of saying “excuse me” while the subtitle clearly reads, “get the fuck outta my way.”

This brought up a memory.
I’m from Atlanta (GA) originally and when I was a kid they had safety patrols in elementary schools. Basically, students that were appointed as crossing guards. It was considered an honor and every year there was a mass deployment of oodles and oodles of 12 year olds from Atlanta (and other parts IIRC) to DC and then New Yawk as a bennie of having been on the safety patrol (of course parents had to pay for it but it was some kind of tour deal and we went on the train).
It was the spring of 1969 when I made the journey and there was this kid in our group (not from my school) that was sort of the geek of the bunch. A real dork. But anyway, we’re in New York seeing all the sites and miiling about in large packs with adult chaperones and SnotNose spots some “hippies” that we’re passing by. So being a dorky little kid from that era he thinks “oh wow hippies!” and stops and starts showing the peace sign (thats right, the one with the fingers) at these folks with this goofy little smile and saying “Peace, peace.” Coupla seconds later one of them shoots him a big bird (tha finger) and says “FUCK YOU, YOU LITTLE HOMO!!” Completely shattered, he spent several moments in tears.

I come up out of the subway. Bunch of damn rubberneckers is halfway blocking the passageway (still underground) leading to my building, watching the damn TV that’s playing in a beauty salon. I push past stupid gawking rubberneckers and get to the elevators. A couple of people waiting there are discussing the TV-watchers and I ask what the attraction is.

“Someone just flew a plane into the side of the world trade center”.

“Oh”, I say. “That was smart. They putting pilot’s licenses in Cheerios boxes? Big surprise, there’s tall building on the south end of Manhattan?” :rolleyes: ::gets into elevator, goes to office, begins workday::

Strollling down Broadway about 10:30 AM; here comes a guy wearing a lumberjack jacket, five o-clock shadow, fur cap, button-down collar shirt, and a nice little plaid skirt with nylons and heels. (NO, not a kilt!) Nobody bats an eye.

Several months later, crossing 66th street on Columbus, a very tall, very black man, wearing a loincloth (and nothing else) and balancing a basket of laundry on his head, walking West towards the Hudson. Note to self: remember to explain concept of laundromats to exchange students…

Ditto, not a flinch from the New Yorkers.


I gotta admit that was my initial reaction too.


Heh. This wasn’t NYC, but New Orleans. I once saw a guy wandering through the Quarter wearing nothing but a jockstrap . . . and around his neck, a boa constrictor. De rigueur in Vieux Carre.

Waiting in line at a movie theater near Broadway & 42nd. Huge line for some blockbuster film and there is a crazy man running down the street with a gun, being chased by two cops with guns.
The line simply parted like the Red Sea, let the three run through the line and a second later the line was back together like nothing happened.

Another time, in the same area, having lunch sitting at the window of a diner, there is an undercover cop holding a gun at someone. Not a single person moved from the tables by the windows, despite the fact there was only a 1/4’ piece of glass between them and a loaded, pointed gun.

And most embarassing: Walking on Central Park South seeing a pretty Asian women and realizing it was Yoko, which meant, YES, that was John Lennon walking next to her! I stopped (I was new in NY) and gawked and as they cleverly avoided the crazed NY newbie with his slackjaw by walking into the street. I grabbed the next stranger walking by and said, “Look! John and Yoko!” and the stranger glanced over and then back at me and said, “so?”

That taught me a lesson. When I was crossing the street a year later and saw Streisand crossing the street from the other direction, I was cool. I just walked on by, tripped on the curb and ripped my pants. No one noticed.

As an 8th grader my folks would let me take the train from Philly up to NYC to visit an older sister. I loved walking around Central Park until one day I was attacked by 3 dick-heads in an under pass. I got lucky and managed to get away before any major damage occured. I remember thinking how unreal it was to run screaming, clothes torn, and blood on my legs from that tunnel and no one bothered to help. There were lots of people around but I had to walk a long way to find a pay phone and call my brother-in-law. He asked me if I wanted him to come and pick me up. By that time I was so pissed, I told him to forget it I’d take the subway back to the apartment.

Geez…enough typos and grammar errors above?
I hope you are all jaded New Yorkers and didn’t notice!