You know, it's all too well told: for being one of the world's most densely populated cities,
New Yorkers are crafty, despite the way they talk, and are highly adept at avoiding basic human interaction (the kind that people in other locales may take for granted). If you want to make contact with a New Yorker, you will have to trick them. Here is a handy guide that will list several of the ways to get past the wily New Yorker's defense system.
1. Be a Hot Chick
Here's a test. If you read my introduction and found yourself thinking, "What is he talking about? It's not at all hard to get New Yorkers to interact with you!" then, congratulations, you are a Hot Chick. If you were reading that and thinking, "Yeah, I totally feel you," then you are everybody else in this world. If you are a Hot Chick, you don't need to waste your time reading this guide, unless you are interested in anthropology/sociology, because this information will be of no use to you. HC's do not have this problem that everybody else in
2. Ask For Directions
I hesitate to recommend this course of action; it will work, but there are caveats. New Yorkers, on the whole, are very forthcoming with directions. In fact, it's just about the only thing they're forthcoming with. Here's the catch: you run the risk of looking like a total idiot. They'll look at you, but it won't be the kind of look you want (unless you've gotten reeeeeally desperate). You ask, "Which way is Uptown?" in the Financial District, and you might escape with merely a look of dismissal, or perhaps sympathy. You go into a bar in Bed-Stuy and ask where the nearest Polo Ralph Lauren is, and you might just get your ass kicked. Asking someone on the subway if this train goes to so-and-so is generally safe, but you will generally be assumed to be a tourist.
3. Share an Uncommon Experience
This is most effective in enclosed spaces like subway cars or elevators. It could be anything, really. What you're hoping for is "weird without being horrible". For example: a really good (or, even better, a really bad) subway musician is a great thing to bond over, as is a cute little kid doing something cute (as cute little kids are wont to do). Examples of negative things include someone throwing up and/or defecating. If you have the impulse to say, "Wow, that guy's not getting enough fiber," you may want to squelch it. Subway conductors with indecipherable accents and/or speech impediments are a goldmine. Or the other day I was riding my bike with a bunch of other people and some moron said, "I didn't think there were so many Communists in the world." We all shared a good laugh, me and my comrades.
4. Carry Something Out of the Ordinary
While Sharing an Uncommon Experience is great, it places a heavy burden on luck. Carrying Something Strange, on the other hand, is entirely within your control. I first discovered this when I'd just got my surfboard and getting home involved multiple train rides and a brief walk down 42nd St with it tucked under my arm. Nobody would bat an eye in
5. Other Options
Dressing like an officious geek worked extremely well for me yesterday. I was all nerded up for a show I was on my way to shoot, and these kids on the subway were giggling and saying, "You ask him… no, you ask him?" I said, "Ask me what?" They said, "Do you know if the driving age in
The latter two people in the above story exercised another good principal:
6. Something In Common
This one is fraught with hazards, but it can pay off. If you see someone with a shirt that announces that they are from Buttfuck, Nowhere, and you, too, happen to be from Buttfuck, Nowhere, congratulations, this just might work. If, however, she's wearing a shirt that says "
7. Final Thoughts
Just don't expect the Hot Chick to laugh.