In the news today:
***New Yorkers are a polite bunch. No, really, they are. So says Reader’s Digest.
The magazine sent reporters “undercover” to 36 cities, in 35 countries, to measure courtesy. New York was the only American city on the list.
In a city with a reputation for being in-your-face, New Yorkers seem to be expressing themselves with a new one-finger salute: a raised pinkie. In fact, they seem to have even better manners than people in London, Toronto and Moscow.
In its admittedly unscientific survey, the magazine’s politeness-police gave three types of tests to more than 2,000 unwitting participants.
The reporters walked into buildings to see if the people in front of them would hold the door open; bought small items in stores and recorded whether the salespeople said “thank you”; and dropped a folder full of papers in busy locations to see if anyone would help pick them up.
New Yorkers turned out to be the politest: 90 percent held the door open, 19 out of 20 store clerks said “thank you,” and 63 percent of men and 47 percent of women helped with the flying papers.
In short, four out of five New Yorkers passed the courtesy test. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he’s not surprised.
He told reporters Tuesday that whenever he travels abroad, he hears nothing but praise for the Big Apple’s good manners.
“We are so jaded,” he said. “We want to think the worst of ourselves, and people from around this country and around the world think exactly the reverse.”
The rudest continent is Asia, Readers Digest said. Eight out of nine cities tested there — including last place Mumbai, India — finished in the bottom 11. In Europe, Moscow and Bucharest ranked as the least polite.***
There you have it! Our secret blown! Thanks SO much, Bloomberg!
We like to talk big about how rude and scary we New Yorkers are, so that people will stay the hell away from our burg and we will not have to endure touristic stupidities like all those out-of-townies clustering at the corner crossing, waiting and waiting for the green GO light, when the nearest oncoming traffic is in, like, PENNSYLVANIA!
CROSS, you morons! Don't just stand there like ducks in a thunderstorm! Cross, I say! Or I'll drop-kick you from here to the Hudson River!
Or walking five abreast on the sidewalk, an entire oversized underbrained corn-fed Midwestern hick family blocking the pavement so we have to broken-field-end-run around you. Use some SENSE, will you? You can't even TALK to the family members on the outside ends of your little logjam row!
Walking in two tiers of two or three apiece makes life SO much easier for NYC natives, and has the further advantage that you can actually TALK to your companions about "Wow, Mother, did you ever SEE such a big goldarn building in all your livelong days?!" So DO IT, you freaking donkeys!!!
That said---I hope as rudely as possible, to put the fear of NYC into outland hearts---yes, we are indeed a polite people. We have to be. If we weren't, there would be gun duels in the street every hour of every day. (Even more than there are, I mean.) But tourists...I SWEAR, people should be forced to take a TEST before they're allowed to come here. I'd be happy to administer it...and I don't grade on a curve.
But even we natives can stand a bit of improvement...
Witness the discourteous idiots who, when you are leaving the supermarket with forty pounds of groceries in bags in either hand, try to push their way past you, although they are younger, more agile and far more unencumbered than you.
I generally try to whack them in the knees with the heaviest shopping bag I have as they shoulder by me. Oh right, hip or shoulder checks also good. Hey, they asked for it...
And the cretins who STAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SIDEWALK AND JABBER CLUELESSLY AWAY TO FRIENDS JUST AS RUDE AS THEY, forcing the rest of us (usually carrying forty pounds of groceries) to detour sharply to avoid them.
"HEY!" I like to tell them, "It's a sideWALK, you fucking morons, not a sideSTAND! Move out of the right-of-way!" Or, I just crash into them. Hey, they asked for it...
Oh, and they expect YOU to walk around THEM, despite the fact that you are carrying forty pounds of groceries or, say, a six-foot-tall bookcase, and they are carrying nothing heavier than their brainless heads on their wispy little shoulders.
And THEN they act as if YOU're at fault!! That's when I want to take out my phaser and just blow them away. Clean up Dodge!
MAN! It's usually younger people who are guilty of most of this, though my fellow boomers are by no means off the hook. Seniors get a free pass, since they're older, frailer and smaller, and I was brought up to be polite to my elders. But young folks, and I'm not at all sorry to sound like a curmudgeon here, don't have the manners God gave a goat.
Hold the elevator or the door for them, they don't even say thank you (I generally say "YOU'RE WELCOME" in tones that can be heard in Hoboken, but they have no shame and it doesn't even seem to register that they've offended).
I don't mean to sound racist, but I've noticed that young Asian people are really bad with the manners thing. We have lots of Asian students in my neighborhood, and although I've always heard that Asians are a polite and mannerly folk, these kids either are atypical, had mannerless parents who didn't teach them correctly, or else merely validate Reader's Digest's finding that Asia is the rudest continent.
I shouldn't like to say, and it's certainly not all of them, and maybe it's a cultural thing, the result of all that overcrowding. But it IS a genuine phenomenon, and there are surely as many non-Asian offenders in that particular age group.
Anyway, the Manners Police have their work cut out for them, and I'm glad to do my part as enforcer. NY scored well, but we can go for better. If not, maybe we should all start carrying swords again. Three feet of steel is bound to go SOMEwhere. Preferably into the donkey butts of people who stand in the doorways and block up the halls. Or the sidewalks.