Several months ago, I moved to New York City for a new job. It was a big change after living most of my life in the sprawling suburban Central Valley of California. As you can imagine, it’s taken some getting used to. I’ve noticed a few particular peculiarities about NYC, and I thought I’d share some of them here.
1. New Yorkers love to honk. Everywhere I go, people in cars are honking. Where I’m from, people usually only honk when there’s a hazard to be aware of. Here, honking is a way of life.
2. People honk more than their car horns. Speaking of honking, I’ve noticed that New Yorkers honk their noses when they’re blowing them. I don’t even know how to make the muted trumpet noise these people make when they blow their noses — right out in public, like it’s no big deal.
3. Public transportation isn’t crowded. This one isn’t a difference so much as a surprise. Where I’m from, I didn’t take public transportation much, but after hearing about the famously crowded NYC subways, I was pleased to discover that I can almost always find a spot to sit down.
4. Personal space is important. Although seats on the subway are plentiful, I have found that I get dirty looks if I sit too close to anyone. In fact, in most public places in NYC, people are very serious about their personal space. Some will even tell me to move away from them if they feel I’m too close — with a healthy dose of New York attitude!
5. Stores are open weird hours. Most of the stores I pass by are always closed during the day, and even at night. I don’t know how they expect to make any money that way. But really, how can anyone make enough money living in NYC?
6. Restaurants are all takeout. With rent prices so high, there aren’t a lot of big restaurants in terms of square footage. Even so, the little restaurants that are here all seem to be exclusively takeout and delivery. It’s like they don’t even want people inside the place.
7. Everyone wears masks. Where I’m from, hardly anyone covered their face in public. But here, nearly everyone is walking around with some kind of cloth, paper, or medical-style mask on. New York is a diverse place, so I’m guessing it’s for religious purposes?
8. Most people stay home. I expected the city to be more bustling than it is. It seems most people elect to just stay home most of the time. (It makes sense, I guess, since all the stores and restaurants are either closed or takeout only.) There are still people out and about, but it’s not at all like the TV shows and movies led me to believe.
9. Way more people have the coronavirus. Last year, when I lived in California, practically no one had COVID-19. But in NYC, thousands of people do. The guidebooks didn’t say anything about that! Only in New York!
It seems there’s a new surprise around every corner, and I’m soaking it in as part of the full New York experience. I imagine I’ll get used to it all over time — except for the nose honking. That’s just weird.