Living in New York City is different than living anywhere else in America. Being a New Yorker means you don’t have to deal with the same unpleasant realities that haunt other Americans. This ranges from the traumatizing to the trivial. Let’s start with the traumatizing first.
Weapons of War employed by the Dangerously Unstable
New York City practices some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation. The result is that we have not had to deal with gut wrenching televised reports of our children being slaughtered at school. And yes, it is a matter of gun restriction and not mental health, because it’s patently obvious that we here in the Big A. have not solved the mental health issue in the slightest. We have a rich variety of lunatics roaming the streets at will. You might be able to find examples of all these lunatics in your home town, but in such impressive numbers? Doubtful.
Skinny Livewire (with or without a squirrel on shoulder). The Skinny Livewire can often be found roaming the public transportation system. He is the archetype “you talkin’ to me??” that was immortalized in Taxi Driver. You need to stay away from him.
Ranting lunatic These folks are in the grips of extreme psychosis, with or without hard drug usage. They are living in a world of full-fledged hallucinations, to which they vociferously respond. They usually don’t even know you are there. Personal hygiene and clothing are optional.
Hint: don’t do anything to bring yourself to their attention.
Lone wolf The spiritual brother of the Skinny Livewire, the Lone Wolf is often motivated by religious fervor. They can cause real damage with pipe bombs (though not always). They get lots of media attention, but they are actually few and far between.
God’s Messenger God spoke to them, and now, they are speaking to you. That’s why earbuds were invented.
Garden-Variety Addict The Garden Variety Addict can keep it together long enough to ask you for money, but not to get treatment. Since there’s no political appetite for creating real support services for the addicted and mentally ill, the average commuter is now their safety net.
Arming any or all of these folks would be a very, very bad idea. Although my favorite city hasn’t solved the underlying problem (free, high quality services for the mentally ill and those suffering from addictions), we HAVE deprived them of guns. Even Skinny Livewire has problems these days when he decides it’s time to start packing heat.
The result of this is that, although we can and do have other fears for the safety of our children, being killed in the school library by a flat-eyed white boy with a weapon of war is not one of them.
I’m amazed at how many Americans seem to believe cars are a benefit. They are not. Like coconut, cars are sordid squatters in the “benefit to mankind” category, and should be firmly removed to the “scourge to society” camp once and for all.
Living car-free is the greatest benefit of city living. We don’t have to drive them, we don’t have to park them, we don’t have to pay for them, and we don’t have to teach our children how to operate them. Beyond the obvious cost in money and fumes sullying the environment, cars serve to isolate people from the world at large. If you know your neighborhood only through the windshield of your car, you don’t know your neighborhood at all.
Fixing a roof This is one of the most horrible experiences, apparently, that homeowners have to go through. It’s easier in places where it never rains because you can ignore the problem. Imagine if Phoenix suddenly turned into London? Half the houses in town would sprout leaks. There would be a run on buckets. The whining and whinging would be heard
throughout the land. Homeowners who live in damper climes have more incentive to keep up with roof repair, but it’s still expensive and painful. The whinging is still heard throughout the land.
But not in New York City, with one minor exception: if you own a brownstone, or you’re in a small co-op with no money, you will find out one day, to your horror, that you’ve got to foot the bill for a roof. The rest of us can slide by, happily oblivious.
Shoveling Snow Who loves snow? Kids and me. This is because we don’t have to shovel it. We don’t have to drive in it. We don’t have to salt it. As long as we’ve got the right boots, we’re having a great time. Once upon a time, a blizzard shut down the whole city – oh, that
was last month? Right! Anyway, everyone was out the next day with kids and dogs, romping in the parks and building huge snow-giants climbing out of the ground. Then we scampered home to hot chocolate and marshmallows. Because we don’t have to drive in it or shovel it, it’s great.
Strangers coming to your door If you own a roof, you also own a front door. People you don’t know and don’t want to meet are allowed to come right up and ring the bell. Then, they want to bend your ear about buying a diet solution, some good news for you from God Himself, how affordable it is to own a personal swimming pool, or possibly a can’t-miss investment opportunity.
Here in New York City, we hardly get any of that. If you are lucky enough to live in a building with a doorman, you never have to deal with strangers at your door. They don’t even ask to come inside. Even without a doorman, it’s a rare occurrence. These days, only “energy sales” and subway preachers who can’t afford a metrocard will make the effort.
As soon as I set foot in the Olive Garden, I saw right away what the problem is. It’s pictures of food laminated all over the menu. Yes, laminated menus with pictures are the big tip-off that you will soon be eating food that was frozen and then microwaved, and you’ll get a big heapin’ plateful. Quantity stands in for quality. You’re in a chain.
We have chains here too, but you can eat out 3 meals a day for 40 years, and never set foot in a chain. Many working New Yorkers start off the day with a food cart. Lunch? Food cart for me! Dinner? TSA (try Seamless, asshole)! Local food, local cooks, real flavor, paper takeout menus under your door, Slice and not a laminated menu in sight.