Blogging Like I've Never Blogged Before

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Here is some friendly advice:

People are so afraid to ask for directions in New York. It's funny. I can spot these people a mile away. They look around, try to find a street sign to see if it makes any sense, and when that doesn't work, they start scoping out people who might be approachable. I am often a person who they go to, or at least consider going to. There are reasons. I am very non-threatening, I often dress like an old man, and I wear a t-shirt that says, "Are you lost, you dumb fuck? Ask me for directions, you big out-of-towner piece of shit!"

The t-shirt thing is a lie, but the rest is true. But people are very scared to trust anyone in New York, so they are very hesitant about asking for directions. There's an idea among many people that anyone who lives in New York is either in a rush and don't want to be bothered, a crazy thief/murderer/rapist, or just some relatively harmless psycho that talks to themselves and eats cigarette butts. I am usually in a rush, as is everyone in this city, but we are very often really not trying to get anywhere in a certain amount of time, it's just the speed at which things move around here. If you slow down or stop to look around, you get bumped into by sidewalk tailgaters, or you get a good stabbing in the kidneys.

Most people will give you directions if you just ask. They may do it abruptly and it'll seem rude. It won't be the same kind of service you'd get in say, Tennesee or Maine or anywhere else in the country. Don't expect any follow-up questions, like, "So how long are y'all in town for? What do you plan on doing while y'all are here? Have fun!" The response will most likely be a quick point of the finger and a hurried "One block that way." That's what I've found out. People are almost always one block away from where they want to be. When I see lost people I watch them until they make eye contact with me, and depending on my mood, I'll either give them my friendly "Come to me with your queries" look, or my slightly more psychotic "Ask me where you need to be... I dare you" glare.

Ninety nine times out of a hundred, people will be helpful. There was only one time I saw someone who was incredibly rude to a direction seeker. There was a lost elderly Asian couple looking for a theater (a theater that of course, was one block away) and they asked a hot dog vendor. They asked in very broken English, but they got their point across. He gave them a really disgusted nod of his head in the general direction and added a "I can't be bothered with anything non-hot dog" kind of attitude. He also looked at me waiting as if he was expecting me to say, "Fuckin' foreigners. If you are going to be here for a week, be fluent or get out of the damn country, am I right?" Instead of doing that I crossed the street because the sign turned to "WALK" and I would have gotten stabbed if I didn't move.

So there are two lessons for you if you come to New York:

Lesson 1: Don't ask hot dog vendors for anything other than a hot dog.
Lesson 2: Try not to be so damn Asian.
All material © Mike Toole; 2003 - 2006