My mother is visiting me in New York. This is her first time here. Being that Houston, Texas is such a drastically different city from NYC, in pretty much any regard, I had to prepare her a bit before she arrived. Here’s an email that I shared with her, in preparation to visit this crazy city! I intentionally did not mention the rats. I saved that conversation for after she arrived.
I will list a few things that you might want to be familiar with about New York City before you come here, just so that you aren’t caught off guard. I assure you there is nothing to be afraid of, but you know that this city is much different from Houston. The lifestyle is more fast paced and the people are different.
There are lots of them. Sometimes you will be surrounded by them, like you would at a concert. This usually only happens at some events, or places like Times Square. You won’t always be surrounded by people, though. There are plenty of areas, including where I live, in which you can walk down the street and not be surrounded by people. We even have a back yard area behind our building which is quiet and full of tables and chairs for relaxing, if you need to just have some quiet time.
People won’t usually say “excuse me” when crossing your path. Do not take it personally. Most people will be nice enough to say excuse me if they step on your toe or something like that.
People won’t always say hello, or thank you. Do not take it personally.
Service workers can range from extremely friendly and attentive to utterly silent.You just have to get a feel for them, and if they don’t act quickly enough in acknowledging your presence when you enter a store, restaurant, etc., just let them know what you need.
People here are very much in their own zone usually, and won’t pay attention to you when they are walking. Do not take it personally. Many New Yorkers have become desensitized to other people around them, because there are so many people here.
There are lots of noises here. Car sounds, screaming people who aren’t being killed, kids,loud talking about crazy things you shouldn’t hear in public, upstairs neighbors, people arguing in public, construction, trains, buses, emergency vehicles, etc. You will adjust to this. You can still find the quiet in parks and at home. Most of the time.
We will ride trains. I don’t really do buses much. I will get you a Metro card to swipe as we enter the train station, to pay your fare. You will use that one card for your entire stay here. We might occasionally call for a cab or Uber/Lyft car for a ride.
Sometimes there are lots of people on the trains. You might have to stand up while riding, and hold on to a pole. You will many times be able to find a seat. You will have to sit next to people you don’t know, all the time. Do not ask them if you may sit next to them. Just sit.
Dancers and money beggers on trains: Ignore them. People dance and play loud music on trains to earn cash. Do not pay them. People beg. Do not pay them. And if they dance too close to your head, feel free to scream at them and tell them off. That most likely won’t happen, though.
Get on and off the train as quickly as you can. Walk to the train station as quickly as you can. When transferring from one train to the next, walk as quickly as you can.
That’s pretty much it. It will be different, and fun, and unlike anything you’ve ever seen or done. I promise. And don’t worry about falling down because of all the people here. I never see people falling down. Just watch where you are going, as you do anywhere.