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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Let's Panic

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it.

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« Get out your pencils--it's quiz time. | Main | Shirts on, America! »
Friday
Aug062004

Why I am a hypocrite.

Because I obsessively check all my favorite blogs and if they’re not updated every other day, I’m pissed. Meanwhile, here’s my very own blog, which is so less than fresh that it needs some gentle guidance on blog hygiene, perhaps from an understanding counselor it looks up to.

That’s why!

Changing the subject:

My friend F. -- who, despite years of my undoubtedly creepy pleading for him and his wife J. to move to NYC, actually did so, packing up their San Francisco lives and settling down smack dab in Brooklyn, much to my unfettered delight—what was I saying? Wait! Yes! So F., a native Californian, has insisted since he moved here that New Yorkers are rude.

Rude! Us! Have you ever!

Specifically (and I don’t want to put words in his mouth although that’s exactly what I’m doing) he takes issue with the curtness of NYC service people—the cashiers and salespeople and waitstaff whose brusqueness and lack of cheer wear away at one’s soul.

When he first brought this up, my response was one of hysterical denial—“We’re so not rude you just have to get to know the way we are and then you’ll love it here because WE LOVE YOU DON’T LEAVE US”—but then once I calmed down and realized F. and J. were not about to pack up and scamper off in the night because a cashier didn’t say “Good morning,” I gave his complaints some serious thought.

And now, damn him, I keep noticing the horrible service I’m met with at every point of purchase. While occasionally you’ll find a chatty salesperson (like the cashier at the Container Store who was so damn sunny, someone in front of me demanded to know what they were giving her, to which she replied, “A fantastic workplace!” and every one else on line threw up), by and large when you purchase something in New York, you’ll be helped by Muttery McSullenhead or Sneery O’talksonhercellphone. (Yes—the rude salespeople are always Irish. )

I always assumed that salespeople were cruel because the territory on the other side of a cash register is a terrible, terrible place to be. I’ve done it. I was the worst sales associate ever in the history of Saks Fifth Avenue; I was a bank teller who routinely doled out the wrong amount of money to unsuspecting money-takers; as a waitress, I poured scalding-hot coffee on someone’s hand (accidentally) and a mixed drink on someone else’s head (also accidentally).

On the other hand. Wasn’t I always the friendliest incompetent? Wasn’t I grasping for some human connection across the gulf separating customer from employee? You can’t answer this, so I will: yes! I was so damn likeable! My customers seemed to regret it when they asked if I was disabled! My employers always apologized when they fired me!

So the misery is no excuse. Okay. But is it true that New Yorkers are necessarily ruder than people in other parts of the country? I can’t say I’ve noticed any dramatic difference in service in, say, Oklahoma. But I’ve never been to Oklahoma. So I need your help. Are sales staff in Boise kinder? Do tellers in Tallahassee mean it when they order you to have a nice day? Or, if you work with the public in NYC (and if you do, I am so sorry): why you gotta be like that?

Thank you. And have a nice day.

Reader Comments (57)

You know I think its all in the weather. The warmer your year round weather is the more general cheeriness you get .... the crappier and colder the weather is I think the service gets worse and then there is the whole "amount of nature" equation to factor in as in NYC not much nature or trees or green nice grass you can call your own. perhaps thats the key....the weather and you know surroundings? When I lived in NYC for a very short time people always "knew" i either wasnt ""from" there or I was 15 yo. lol I was 24 at the time. lol I was too friendly and nice in general I would stop people on the street and make small talk you know pet their dogs say hello all that jazz lol I lived near gramercy park and union squarer and I loved it over there. But I was probally one of the friendliest people in the area lol. I miss that city i loved it . I never got horrible or terrible service I did get quick and prompt service which I like ... I like to get in and out of a place quickly I hate being chatted too and drawn into conversations when really all I wanted to do was go in buy my tampons and vodka and get out lol.
August 11, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterKarin
I recently relocated (very stupidly) to Ohio from California, and I have noticed that people from Northwestern Ohio have got to be the most rude, unfriendly, conceited, obnoxious, hostile, arrogant, shallow, people on the face of the earth. My husband is from here which is why I moved here in the first place. I work in customer service and noticed that a good 90%of customers I encounter are very stone faced, swaggering, stuck up, and tight lip. I have noticed that if you thank a customer after the transaction has been completed, they respond with "yep"...... What the hell is "yep"... whatever happened to your welcome. I have noticed this with members of my husband's family, co workers, and friends. Ohio is also very exclusionary and cliquie. I have been here an entire year and have yet to encounter a friendly face. Members of my husbands family are even extremely rude. I have been told by my mother in law, that people here just are generally not friendly to outsiders and new comers and don't feel it is necessary to smile or say hello to someone you havn't known since infancy. My daughters teachers are also extremely rude and hostile toward both her and me, because I have no family here and have not lived here for generations. I think this place is a joke, and the whole attitude of locals is in serious need of adjustment. For these reasons alone, I have decided to file for divorce, and pack myself up and my daughter and go home where things are normal again. My husband has no desire to leave his home, so I pretty much told him..... "Bye" I will never again set foot in this part of the country.
August 31, 2004 | Unregistered Commenterstephanie S.
I don't think that service people in NYC are rude. I have been a sales associate and I think it just comes from the repetitiveness of the job. Besides, I live in NJ and from what I've heard people here are really rude. So, maybe I'm just accustomed to it. Either way, it doesn't bother me. So long as I get everything I paid for and my change is correct I'm happy.
September 2, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterSusan
I live in Oklahoma (Tulsa, specifically) and I've had more people from out of state tell us that we're "So nice!" I suppose we must actually be, because I don't think I've ever heard of Oklahomans as being rude, ever.
September 3, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterCaenis
I'm from a small town in Texas, and I recently went to NYC. I loved NYC so much, I cried when we left. The people there were so nice. If you bumped into someone it was all like.. "Oh! Excuse me.".. or "I'm sorry about that.".. and on the subway, the guy showed us how to use the little credit card swipe things. We went over to Staten Island and they were really nice over there.. and we even met this NYC fireman and he personally took us over to WTC site. We got back into Houston from our flight in NYC and the people were pushing people and arguing about small things like.. who goes into the next open bathroom stall. I really miss NYC and am currently trying to save money to go to SUNY or NYU. Thanks to the New Yorkers for being so nice!
March 9, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterDez
I'm a South Carolinan from Columbia.I've been all over in the South and they were very friendly and people say all southerners are the most friendliest,hospitable,warm-hearted and sweetest people in the world.I've been pitty-ass NYC and I hate that city.When I lived there for 2 1/2 years,the New Yorkers are so mean,evil,stuck-up,unfriendly,unhospitable,rude,loud,cold-hearted,dangerous,power-digging,xenophobic,self-centered,egostical,back-stabbing,2-faced and igronant pigs.The males are womanizers and they're dogs,the female are bitches,gold-diggers,materialistic and whores and they think they know how to fight like a man but,they dont,even Southern females know how to fight like a man more than them,the blacks are buncha niggers and the kids are buncha spoiled little brats and they dont know how give the adults some respect.I've tried to be nice to them,they gave me that evil,xenophobic look and said"who are you?where you from?I dont know you?I dont want/need to be your friend?I dont want/need your help".To that girl from Texas and said the New Yorkers are friendly,honey,you must be on drugs and wake up and smell the damn coffee you Yankee-loving Texan.I hate New Yorkers and I wish they all need to be damned rest of their damn lives.If any of y'all non-new yorkers hate New yorkers/New york,email me hollaatdagal1@yahoo.com and have a bad comments about New york/New yorkers.If any of y'all New yorkers are have enough balls and say something,email me hollaatdagal1@yahoo.com.Oh,one more thing,git-r-done,yall and death to the new yorkers!!!!!
March 27, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterNicey
Having read all of the comments, and also having lived in nyc for the past 2 years made me think of a couple of things. First, I love a lot of things about NYC, but this egoistical idea that it's the greatest city in the world makes no sense...at all. I guess if you repeat it enough times, it makes it true, right. wrong. I moved to NYC from L.A. and I can tell you that there is no such thing as customer service in NYC, while L.A. has way better service overall (and you get the best of both worlds--smaller town feel, with big city opportunities). For the few people above talking about preffering "rude" salespeople, yeah, right, I'm sure you love it when they don't come by to refill your drinks out here in the East Coast. I think Monica is right when she attributes California friendliness to good weather...Constant rain, cold, and NYC humidity doesn't exactly make anyone feel cheery. I think it's just as fake to be rude or overly aloof (as many an NYCer is) as it is to make small talk or to be overly friendly. I think that at the end of the day, it makes more sense for us to be nice to one another, even if it means making that huge effort to take that extra 1/2 second to say "hello" to someone you may never see again...try it, it might work positively. Peace!
March 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPeterpablo

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