Why New Yorkers Hate You


(Image: Bob Knorpp)

There’s an ongoing meme across the country that New Yorkers hate tourists. This isn’t entirely true. We don’t hate you. We just hate the way you walk.

You have to understand that we actually love tourists. After all, to live here requires a deep fascination and abiding appreciation of everything this city has to offer. We love being the experts on all things New York and we love to share this knowledge with others. Yes, we’ll often do it with a certain superiority that can be infuriating, but without you, the tourists, we would just go around being insufferable know-it-alls to each other. So there’s a symbiotic need that the tourist fills for the New Yorker.

But the way you walk when you come to our city is simply intolerable. I mean seriously, we would rather claw our eyes out and grind our bare knees in glass than walk behind a tour group.

Now to understand this interesting cultural phenomenon, you need to first understand that we don’t think of sidewalks as pleasant footpaths for meandering through lush suburban settings. Sidewalks to you are probably optional paths that your kids ride Big Wheels on, and upon which you stop and converse pleasantly with your neighbors. But to us, these are thruways. These are the avenues of our travel. These are the roads which we must navigate on a daily basis.

I know you see our busy streets and you think, “This looks just like home! We have side walks for meandering and streets for getting around. We understand!”

Don’t be lulled into this false perception.

No one in New York City drives. All those cars? They’re from Jersey. Trust me. Only people from Jersey are crazy enough to drive in this place. The rest are taxis, delivery trucks and municipal vehicles. So you are wrong to think the streets are for getting around. The streets are for gridlock only.

It’s the sidewalks where we get around. These are our freeways. So just for a moment, imagine we came to your city and decided to stop dead on the 405 with no warning or spread out in formation to block all 10 lanes of I-80 while we drifted along at 5 mph or perhaps drove in the opposing lanes of traffic on I-75. How would you react?

There are basic rules of the road. You look behind you before you stop suddenly and you are aware of the traffic around you as you shift lanes. And you never, ever stop with you color-coordinated outfits and do a group cheer in the middle of rush hour traffic. It’s simple courtesy. Plus, frankly, if you did any of this on a road anywhere else in the country you would get a ticket or jail time or maybe even get shot.

But you come to our city and you act like Time Square is Disney World with public urination and naked cowboys (which it is, but this is besides the point) and you make us stop short, bump into you and then get surprised when we lay a stream of F-bombs on your tourist asses. Do you not understand road rage when you see it? Have you never cursed out the guy making the left turn from the right lane? It’s really not all that different.

So understand that we don’t hate you. We love that you visit our city. But most of us believe that you should be required to take a basic walking test before we allow you on our sidewalks — and that most of you would fail this test.

Robert Knorpp
Robert Knorpp is host of The BeanCast Marketing Podcast at thebeancast.com and is President of The Cool Beans Group, a marketing strategy consultancy based in New York City. He likes laughing even more than breathing. You can follow the madness on Twitter at twitter.com/BobKnorpp.
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12 Responses to Why New Yorkers Hate You

  1. Nicole August 14, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Torontonians understand. Tourists do the same thing here. We try to get out of the way or walk fast in NYC.

  2. Sheri August 14, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    And just how are we suppose to sight-see, or, how are we to know which stores to spend our money in? Just a thought.

  3. Robert Knorpp
    Bob Knorpp August 14, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    Ha! Don’t take it personally. We spend money in your cities when we travel as well. We just don’t set up camp on the highway outside your stores. ;)

  4. Chris August 15, 2012 at 2:16 am #

    Great post. I think there should be special rules for the subway platforms as well

  5. Chris August 15, 2012 at 6:44 am #

    Bob, please get out of my head! I was just saying this the other day! And Sheri, you’re perfectly welcomed to sight-see and browse. Just please stand to the side while you do it! Also, no walking more than two astride. That’s my biggest pet peeve.

  6. Melani August 15, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    Is it possible to get this reduced to business card size to hand out? A perfect explanation as to why it is so frustrating. Now perhaps you’ll do a post on the double-stroller phenomenon with the birth of so many multiples in this city. Damn you, advances in infertility for the older parent! Kidding, sort of.

  7. adi August 15, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Sheri, use the internet. plan your day. and map out how to get there with the use of which walkways.. then when you walk those ways walk fast and in single file.

  8. Tyler Hurst August 15, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    There’s nothing wrong with tourists sightseeing, walking slow or even stopping on NYC sidewalks.

    It’s when they do these things without regard for anyone in their vicinity that’s horribly annoying.

    People in NYC get why tourists are there, but just like the autobahn, it’s a good idea to stay out of everyone who knows what they’re doing’s way.

  9. Robert Knorpp
    Bob Knorpp August 15, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    I promise, I’m not a mind-reader. Just another motorist. ;)

  10. Robert Knorpp
    Bob Knorpp August 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    What a great idea, Melani! Business card sized walking rules.

  11. cindy August 15, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    Oh god, I could hardly stop laughing long enough to read this. . . and I’m sure I am, unintentionally, exactly who you are talking about. Great post.

  12. DCGirl August 15, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    Dear Tourists,

    We who live in Washington, D.C., feel exactly the same way. Especially between the hours of 8-10am and 4-6pm. You may be stunned into a dead stop by the lovely marble glow of our nation’s capital, but for those of us who live and work here, it’s rush hour. Also, you see that escalator? Stand to the right; the left lane is for walking.

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