The State of My (CSims) Interactive Behaviors

This post occurred to me as I walked to the train (it is still weird for me to say this, as it is for me to say go to work rather than school) Friday morning.  I had intended to write this post sometime on Friday, but as it is like to do, the day go away from me.

I thought it might be of interest to note some of the things that, since coming to the city, have become second nature to me, as well as things to which I am still adjusting, and those things that have not changed much, despite locale.  This list is by no means comprehensive, and will certainly be elaborated upon as new items come to mind.

Everyday occurrences become routine long before they are recognized as such.  It seems to me that some of my frequent activities became second nature unexpectedly, and certainly more quickly than I would have imagined.  Walking into the bodega, for instance, is almost mechanical.  Generally, I am not in favor of the mechanization of movement, but in this instance, I don’t believe I could have it any other way.  A note of bodegas: because of the vast population of New York City – more than 8 and a quarter million – and the limited space – less than 470 square miles – the layout and dimensions of nearly everything is unlike elsewhere.  One assumes building up, but businesses are forced to be creative with space, as each square inch is enormously valuable.  This is recognized more so than any where else in small businesses.  This of course contributes to the annoyance of New Yorkers at the mannerisms of tourist.  We, myself very much included as I was this way in Texas, become quite annoyed when one stops unexpectedly in front of us without damn good reason.  Namely, you are on fire or otherwise in mortal danger.  If you are not in such a circumstance, than sure you can move yourself out of the way!  But I digress.  My note on bodegas is that unlike the roomy convenience stores of nearly everywhere else, one has to negotiate themselves consciously in these tiny, but wholly useful pieces of real estate.  Most frequently, I will step into the bodega for a drink and perhaps the missing ingredient needed for dinner.  Most bodegas, as I previously noted about liquor stores, have lay-abouts.  Someone, usually family or a close friend of someone working, will nearly always be around not to purchase anything, but because they have nothing better to do than be in the way.  The rules of the bodega are not written out and hardly ever assumed, so I suppose I have taken it upon myself to create a set of rules to make frequenting such establishments more palatable.  When I enter the bodega, I know what I am there for and the make a bee line for item number 1.  I may pause in deciding precisely what I get, but I get to the location of the item ASAP.  After gathering my items, I move to the counter.  Generally, unless a place is very busy, there are laxed rules for lines.  one who has 1 or two items and cash and go ahead and pay.  This is what I do.  Sometimes, I will not even put the item on the counter.  A Monster energy drink is $2, no tax.  I will show the Monster, and often without time for the merchant to comment, hold out two dollars the him/her.  I do this with little to no forethought.  Second nature behavior number 1.

Along the same lines is ordering breakfast or lunch at a deli.  In all honesty, this is not a very pleasant experience to begin with.  Not that everyone is hostile, quite the contrary.  But as an outsider, not use to the quick in-and-out of deli interactions, it takes a bit.  For one, try to stand back from the counter if not ready.  Some places will repeatedly scream out “NEXT, NEXT” to customers close enough to order, regardless of their being ready.  It is best to give the staff your order as simply, but thoroughly as possible.  For instance, I get bagel egg sandwiches once a week or so.  The menu list this as an egg sandwich on bagel with cheese.  This is not quite sufficient for ordering.  I generally state my order, to both the cook and the cashier, as egg and [type of cheese] on [type of bagel].  The words “cheese” and “bagel” are unneccessary and thus left out.  The only part of the transaction that requires thought is what you want after that, it is all about efficiency.  This too has become like second nature to me.

So purchasing taken care of, one also need to take care of not partaking, as in street solicitors.  I stated before that the bubble of headphones is a good friend and helpful in ignoring people trying to get your attention, as is the polite but firm hand up, meaning ‘no thanks’.  This takes a bit of getting use to for a Texan, as generally I didn’t ignore people without reason.

But Cody, what about getting around?  Does this still tax your mental abilities to their very limit.  No, little one, no.  This too has become easy to the point of ignorance.  Steps include get card read, swipe and walk, step the appropriate part of the platform (trains stop at different spots in relation to the terminal, so getting on way at the end of the 225th station platform mean getting off right at the stairs at 116th Columbia University), negotiating busy cars or finding optimal available seating, moving away to prevent crowding people unnecessarily, and taking cues from your surroundings so as the know your stop is approaching while continuing to listen to headphones or read ones book.  Easy-peasy!

The last thing that comes to mind is one that just goes with being a New Yorker.  TriBeCa, Bed-Stuy, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, Red Hook, Astoria, Yonkers, Morningside, LWS, LES, UWS, UES, Financial District, MoMA, B-Way, etc ad nauseum.  Terminology comes easy after three months in NYC.  If I don’t know it when you say it, I’m sure to keep it in mind in the future.

But there are plenty of things to which I’ve not yet become accustomed.  Grocery shopping is weird here.  Of course, we have no car, so to do a good amount of shopping at a store with adequate choices means taking the subway down (for us two stops) to a big grocer.  Many things can be gotten within close proximity, but because we don’t live among yuppies, to get vegetarian stuff may mean going out of our way.  These things are much more readily available than before, but still, the concept of grocery shopping is loathesome compared to the same in Texas.  With time, I can hope.

Though I have gotten very good with talking face to face with NYCers, the phone is something else all together.  They are a no nonsense group of tele-chatters.  When you call to order delivery, nothing more is said than is needed.  Example:

Them: “Hello, So-And-So’s Pizza”

Me: “I’d like to make a delivery order.”

Them: “What chu want?”

Me: [Places order]

Them: “Ok, phone number?”

Me: “###-###-####”

Them: “Address?”

Me: [Gives address]

Them: “Ok, 30 minutes” *Click*

The end.  Everytime.  Want to know how much, ask quick or get out your calculator.  It’s interesting and was very off-putting the first time.

Of course, for every change I’ve made, there must be something that made the 1600+ mile trip with me.  I came up with a couple.

I’m not sure if I mentioned it before, but about our 3rd week here, while walking next to the Mid-Manhattan library, we were witness to an irrate man jumping from a car, pulling out a knife, and slashing the tires of an NYC cab.  It was incredible.  At first, Kate and I rubber necked, but this didn’t feel right.  As I turned around to follow the car, intending to get the plates down, the now partially flat cab zigzagged in front of the car, doing all it could to prevent the asshole’s escape.  Presumably, he saw the parked police cruiser less than half a block ahead.  While I walked briskly with my hand on my own knife, the cab succeeded in stopping the car, and I got the pleasure of seeing this jerk realize that the guy walking towards his car was going to ruin his night.  Though I suppose when you are so angry about beig cut off, anything can ruin your evening.

Aside from this, manners don’t go out of style anywhere.  I still say sir and ma’am because until I have a reason to disrespect a person, I won’t.  And the infirm or those with small children always need a seat more than me, with the exception of my little illness last week.  Sorrym but sometimes the quelling of vomit is more important than some bunions.


~ by beankat on 16 November 2008.

One Response to “The State of My (CSims) Interactive Behaviors”

  1. You may adapt, but you are very set in your ways Mr. Sims. The environment has just made you a different kind of anal.

    I kid,


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