By Cecelia Albon, Ohio Wesleyan University ’17
There was one stereotype of New Yorkers that everyone warned me about before I came to the city: “New Yorkers are mean and rude.” Coming from the Midwest—where everyone says hello and you can leave your front door unlocked at night—I was terrified of what rude encounters I was going to experience. I was even more scared of how to deal with them.
The first New Yorker that defied the stereotype was a woman who I began talking to while trying to figure out if the G Train in Brooklyn was ever going to show up. I asked where the next station was, because after only being in Brooklyn twice, I had no idea where to go. She offered to let me tag along on her company-paid cab ride to the next station. After I politely declined, she gave me some sound advice about the subways and went on her way.
Next there was the cashier at Trader Joe’s. After hearing that I had only been here for a week, he offered advice about keeping my head on my shoulders and how the city would become easier to deal with in time. After moving from Michigan seven years ago, he said it’s an addicting and exhausting place to be. He mentioned how I would love the city and all its convenience, but also how the city never stops. The exhaustion and drain that I felt from the city would never really go away. I’d always feel it, but it would eventually become normal. Though they were kind words, I became worried that I would never feel fully rested.
The next stranger to reach out was a cashier at H&M a couple weeks later. He gave an optimistic outlook to my worries of the city’s wear and tear. After three weeks, I still hadn’t found a cure for how tired I was. He was born and raised in Brooklyn and was insistent that, despite its pace, this was the city to be in at my age. Then he went on to list all the amazing places I had to see before I left, despite the huge line of customers behind us.
To my surprise, the fleeting interactions that I’ve had with strangers, have defied the stereotype. New Yorkers seem to really respond to “the college kid who’s new to the city” and are more than willing to offer advice and share their own experiences.