LESSONS FROM WASH HEIGHTS
Last night over small plates and sangria in Washington Heights, we heard an interesting argument against the myth that New Yorkers are mean. Someone who had lived in the city for eight years said that she believes New Yorkers are generally nice people. Her point was that if you have an opportunity to sit down with a New Yorker over a meal or a drink, you'll find most of them to be genuine and nice. But New Yorkers are seen as mean and/or rude because of two things: 1. they always need to get somewhere, and 2. they're protective of their personal space, because there isn't much space to begin with in the city. Her point is that New Yorkers are not, by nature, more mean and rude than other people. But their response to the environment and energy of the city causes them to appear that way. There may be something to this, and interestingly, the woman who said this has taught sociology at several universities. But I also believe that how we respond in uncomfortable situations - like say boarding a crowded subway while running late for work - tells others a lot about who we really are.