Monday, March 24, 2008

New Yorkers rude? Naaah

Yesterday, as we took the bus back from the best fried chicken on Earth (we should have hiked all the way to Staten Island to walk it off but we were too stuffed to move), we adopted a Spanish tourist from Sevilla called Esther. She asked us to tell her where 59th st was and because we love helping tourists, we engaged in conversation with her. We learned, and not for the first time in the last couple of weeks, that people from the outside world think New Yorkers are very, very, rude.
When I hear this:
1. I am mortified and utterly dismayed.
When it comes to tourists I am like a St. Bernard, ready and willing to help them navigate their inscrutable maps, our inscrutable subways, the inscrutable layout of the West Village, etc. I want them to know that we are very nice, we just don't have time to shoot the breeze like they do wherever the hell they come from.
2. I ask them if they have been to Macy's. The invariable response is "yes".
This illuminates everything.
I patiently explain that we should not be judged by Macy's, as Macy's is the simulacrum on Earth of the ninth circle of hell. I assure them that absolutely everybody who is human is manhandled at Macy's, regardless of race or origin. I had such a traumatic experience buying a pair of gloves 10 years ago, I never went back. Shudders still run down my spine as I remember the barking harpy who sold me the gloves. Cruella DeVil was a saint compared to her. In fact, every time I pass by Macy's, I shiver.
But why? Asks Esther. What can I tell you, Esther? Do not ask logical questions. It looks like part of the work requirements of the sales staff is to have the demeanor of the guard dogs at Hades.
Not that the other stores fare much better; it's not that I go into Bloomingdale's and instantly feel a fuzzy welcome with open arms. At Barney's, I feel the chill of the sales staff trained to ooze contempt on the likes of moi. Hence, I avoid department stores.
Eva, a wardrobe stylist, was shellshocked and exhibiting symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after her shopping expeditions here. (which of course included Macy's). Originally from Buenos Aires, but now based in that capital of creepily chirpy salespeople also known as LA, she told me she understands that LA is the completely over the top opposite of NY, in that the sales people there think they are your BFF and really want to know how you are doing today. But she was not prepared for the onslaught of rudeness, especially considering she was buying tons of clothes for a wardrobe fitting.
Esther said the bus drivers were very impatient with her because she was unable to slide her Metrocard in correctly. When I do that, they shoot daggers at me too. But I'm used to it. I even find it part of the surly NY charm. I guess that tourists feel a little more insecure and selfconscious and therefore are more sensitive to these slights.
We are not so bad.

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