Welcome to New York City! I’m sure you will be reading that statement in newspapers across New York City over the next few days. Little tip: You might want to hang on to a few of those articles, because if you make a few bad plays, those same newspapers will be calling for you to be disemboweled – or worse.
But don’t take this personally, this is what New Yorkers do-we’re an impatient, demanding lot. Believe me, we will boo you just as quickly as we will boo the slow moving cashier at my local Walgreen’s.
Since you’re new to New York, I wanted to offer some tips in the hopes it will smooth your transition from Colorado, a State which features snow capped mountains to New York City, a city which features urine smelling subways.
One of the most important things you need to understand is that living in New York City does not make you a New Yorker. You have to see the world like we do before you can call yourself one of us. That takes a different amount of time for each person– but there’s always a distinct moment when that happens.
My moment came about two plus years after living here. It was a typical day. I was on a crowded subway platform waiting for the 6 Train. There, I saw a pregnant woman yelling into her cell phone: “I can’t believe you would leave me when I’m pregnant!” While the tourists looked aghast, all I could think was: “How does she have cell phone reception?!” Bang, I was a New Yorker.
Before that day comes for you, let me give you some advice so you can at least mimic the New York City attitude:
1. Always look like you are in a hurry: It doesn’t matter where you're going, New Yorkers always look like we’re in a rush. And every New Yorker feels this, for example, I was on a city bus once when a guy was taking too long to pay his fare--at the moment, a homeless guy on the bus yelled out: “C’mon, I have got things to do!”
2. Tourists: These people truly annoy us--you will be walking on the sidewalk in a rush to get somewhere and they will suddenly stop because they need to take a photo of something they deem “amazing”-–like a crack in the sidewalk or a lamp post. But since we are still in the midst of a challenging economy, we have to be nice to them. Once the economy rebounds, we can return to pushing tourists off the sidewalk and into traffic.
3. NYC’s Homeless: Your first inclination will be to give every homeless person you see money. That will change. In time, you will only reward those who do something interesting or funny- believe me, our homeless are very talented. I recently saw a homeless guy standing next to a sign for the iPad holding up a big sign which read: “iHomeless.” That guy was raking in the tips.
4. Use New York expressions: If you really want to connect with us, you have to talk like us. My advice: Watch “Jersey Shore.” There, you will hear how some New Yorkers--and a large percentage of NY Jets’ fans--really sound. For example, instead of saying “ask,” throw in an “axe” here and there so it sounds like this: “Okay, axe me a question.” Also, it’s not pronounced, “dog” or ball, “ it’s pronounced, “dawg” and “bawl.”
In closing, as an NFL football star, you’re in essence a modern day gladiator-–and since I just watched the movie “Gladiator” on cable for about the 30th time--I wanted to share with you a quote from that film which may find helpful. It’s when Proximo--the former legendary gladiator-advises Russell Crowe’s character “Maximus” about how to succeed in Rome: “I was not the best because I killed quickly. I was the best because the crowd loved me. Win the crowd and you will win your freedom.”
While your stakes are slightly different, if you win games, we, the people of New York City--the greatest city in the world–-will love you. You will be crowned “King of New York City.”
But if you screw up, we will hate you--but what can you say, New York City is a “dawg eat dawg” town.