I don't want to perpetuate any stereotypes about angry New Yorkers here, but one time I lived in Hell's Kitchen and worked in Midtown East, and between work and home, lay Times Square.
Every morning about 7:30 a.m. I would walk through the quiet, and almost empty Times Square sipping my coffee and jamming to my iPod. It was my morning ritual.
But every evening, I would return along the same route and find myself trying to wiggle my way through swarms of tourists. In a twenty-four hour period, hundreds of thousands of pedestrians will walk through Times Square and a significant chunk of them are people who live or work in the city. Most of them are not there to visit the M&M store or snag a cameo on TRL either. Most of them are just passing through on their way to somewhere else.
You can think of Times Square as the Magic Kingdom of NYC. The place where we keep our biggest and brightest stars. Or you can think of it as our flashiest intersection. The place where nine roads practically collide into each other.
It is here, in Times Square, where I have regrettably said a few rude things, and way to many loud, "Excuse me's!" as I wiggle my way to the front of the crowd waiting to cross the intersection. And I feel a little guilty about it, until I go home to Michigan, and another driver honks his horn on the expressway as I merge just a tad under the speed limit because I haven't driven on a freeway in six months or someone waves a choice gesture at me because I stopped too quickly since I haven't looked at a traffic light since last Christmas.
I'm not rude to tourists. And neither are most New Yorkers. If you want to know where the Musuem/Building/Street/Park is, I will gladly point you in the right direction and give you alternate public transportation options. I can even recommend a nice restaurant or the nearest Starbucks in certain neighborhoods. But when someone stands in the middle of the sidewalk, mouth agape, oogling a billboard, I'm not about to pause and wait for the crowd to clear.
Instead, in my most assertive but kind voice, though after a day of work kind sounds more like stressed out, I ask the crowd to move. In my standard black outfit, the ooglers immediately recognize me as a citizen of the city, and jump to conclusions about my 'tude.
So folks, when you visit New York City, and someone asks you to move over, consider what you are doing? Are you texting in the middle of the sidewalk in front of Rockefeller Center? Are you staring at a billboard at a crowded street crossing? Are you consulting your map in front of the turnstiles to the subway?
Then, ask yourself how you'd feel if I parked my car on your freeway ramp, or decided to send text messages in your driveway when you're running ten minutes late?
Picture Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:New_york_times_square-terabass.jpg