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Talk to Strangers

Before I ever set foot in New York, I heard of New Yorkers’ reputation of being rude. 

“Don’t try to talk to people in New York,” I was told, and “watch your purse.” 

Eight years into living here, I can tell you that is indeed a fallacy. New Yorkers are not rude; well, not all of us anyway. Most of us live in shoeboxes and have very little privacy. 

So when we’re in public, whether on the street or even at work, we keep to ourselves for the most part. We do so because we’ve created our own personal invisible bubble.

When you don’t have time to yourself, you create it. Maybe your time to think occurs in your car alone driving to work in the morning. We don’t have that luxury. 

So we create our personal shield while holding on to the pole in a crowded subway. 

We’re not trying to be rude by keeping our headphones in or avoiding eye contact. We’re deep in thought. In the hurried world we live, we must create the quiet moments, even if we happen to be in the noisiest setting. Don’t take it as an offense. 

In fact, if you look like you’re lost, someone will probably stop you and ask if they can help you. If you drop something on the ground, most people will alert you and even pick it up for you. 

If you ask us a question, we’re likely to answer. Don’t be afraid to approach us; we’re not animals on safari.

Moreover, at times, my New York barrier goes down and I find myself surprised by a pleasant encounter. Shortly before Christmas, I was at my mailbox in my building and a man who was picking up a package looked at me and said, “I bought my wife a Dyson for Christmas. She’s going to kill me.” We started to chat and I told him I asked for a vacuum one year, and my parents bought me one…I was ecstatic. 

Our chat continued into the elevator while I skimmed my mail. I found two family-picture Christmas cards. I’ve kept these in the past when they’re from close friends, but to be honest, I never know what to do with the ones that I barely recognize. 

I found myself asking out loud, “How long do I have to keep THESE?” My mail buddy chuckled and we commiserated.

Sometimes allowing yourself to speak to a stranger can be quite amusing. A few days later, I was waiting for the subway when four guys came and stood near me. Two of them were handsome…enough to be models. 

As I eavesdropped on their conversation (yeah, I do that), I found out they’re indeed models. Soon the subway arrived and we hopped on. Two of them sat next to me, and the other two sat across from them. 

Directly across from me was an older lady. For the next few stops, these guys kept talking about which modeling agency they like working for the most and which don’t get them enough work. They talked about how they got started, and one even admitted he knew nothing about modeling when he began. 

After they exited the train, the old lady sitting across from me said, “They’re not even that good-looking. But what do I know, I’m an old lady.”

Featured Image by Wenni Zhou on Unsplash

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    January 19, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Great post! My morning commute is definitely my “me” time, and when I’m stressed out, I go for a long drive by myself. When I lived in DC without a car, I definitely missed that as I was constantly surrounded by people on the subway or bus. I think having a car is something non-city folk don’t even think of as being such a luxury!

    xx LJ

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    January 14, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    We live in Kentucky and the dreaded day came when my husband had to take a business trip to NY. I begged him not to get into a fight with someone just because they were rude. He ended up loving New Yorkers! He said the native New Yorkers were extremely nice and polite. He really enjoyed himself. Except for the walk-in closet sized hotel room that cost hundreds of dollars a night!

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    January 12, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Thank you for such a personal perspective on New Yorkers! I too had that attitude about New Yorkers but long ago changed it, as my experiences there have all been positive. Each time I go to visit I am met by friendly local people.

    My son lives there now and I go to visit at least once a year. In Penn Station a business man actually walked me all the way to a door to guide me to the correct exit!

    Awesome blog!

  4. Avatar

    Ashlina Kaposta

    January 11, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    oh HAY…im a model! 😉

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