Hello, People of America & Such,
Many people who have never visited New York (or spent just a few days here) claim that the city is "dangerous" or "rude." Then they return to their smaller towns and repeat this claim. And the reputation grows. But are these opinions valid? Clearly these troubled tourists' opinions have little effect on other travelers as more people visit New York City (37 million last year) than any other American city. So how does The Big Apple get this negative reputation? I'll inform you to some extent if you choose to read the following paragraphs (all sanitized with the convenient spell-check function of my modern "lap-top computer").
First, let me explain that this city's efficiency (what there is of it) depends entirely on speed. On any given day, as many as 13,000,000 people are crammed into an island (Manhattan) that measures a scant 22.7 square miles. That's the size of..um.. 13,939 football fields for those of you who are dumb and stuff. If folks (drivers or pedestrians) unnecessarily block those who are behind them, it could literally inconvenience hundreds of lives. When I moved here 7 years ago I learned very quickly that if I wished to slow down and smell the roses (all 6 of them), I would be wise to move to the far right and get the hell out of the fast lane! The rule is "Always walk quickly on the left side!" This includes escalators. Just like the rules of the road. And this rule is quickly absorbed by those with IQ's over 80 (George Bush, tee hee) and those who do not enjoy being moistened by other folks' launched saliva. So be smart and be considerate, groovy travelers! Otherwise, it is you who is rude and, as such, you should expect eventual gunfire.
Further, I consistently hear tourists (often from small towns in the midwest or deep south) claim that their neck of the woods is "much friendlier" than New York. Oh, really? I often respond by asking, "How friendly would folks in your little town be if, say, an African-American, homosexual, or Jew moved in next door?" Or all three in one person?! It always amuses me to see the moment of panic in their eyes when they recognize that their "villages" certainly are friendly...but only to people exactly like themselves! Yawn. True friendliness, to me, means true inclusiveness. Yeah, I'll be selling that lil' gem to Hallmark.
There are four apartments on my floor and two of them house interracial couples. The vast majority of people in New York would not blink at such a development. Homosexual interracial couples walk hand-in-hand in New York with little fear of more than a few insensitive remarks. People who are stared at everywhere else in America don't warrant a second glance here. A bearded man on the subway wearing a mini-skirt and hat made of pie? Boring. We've seen it before. How many cities could claim this in America? San Francisco certainly, but that might just be it. Maybe Keokuk. But the inclusiveness of New York is perhaps best illustrated by its international appeal. Stunningly, 40% of New Yorkers are foreign born. What an opportunity it is to meet people from all over the world and all walks of life! I should really do that some day.
New York is a melting pot not only for brave, ambitious people from all over the world, but also for Americans who were treated shabbily by their closed-minded smaller towns. You see, when you come to New York, no matter how "unusual" you are, you can find hundreds of people just like you. When you feel alienated and alone elsewhere, you can find acceptance in New York. You see, New York, more than any other American City, let's people "BE." And if you have a problem with people different from yourself, New York is not the place for you. Be open-minded here or be miserable!
When I toured the U.S. for 8 years as a marginally-successful comic, I had the opportunity to visit about 40 states and several hundred cities. New York was certainly the toughest and most intimidating city but, in hindsight, this was entirely due to the fact that I was simply overwhelmed. Once I learned to relax here, the city became absolutely transformative. I love it here, by cracky, by gum!
Lastly, the assertion that New York is "dangerous" is just wrong. Some tourists seem to think that riding the subway after dark is a death sentence. In fact, of all the American cities with populations over 1 million, New York is the safest! We have more crime here because we have the most people but the per-capita crime rate is of course the only meaningful statistic.
Wait....Someone's trying to break into my apartment......