Grand Central Terminal

Speak Up New Yorkers and Washingtonians!
We Are Not Rude! And We Love Tourists

Grand Central Terminal

Travel & Leisure Magazine recently ranked cities for rudeness. New York topped the list, followed by Washington at number three. Los Angeles, usually number one, finished second this time around, with Miami and Boston rounding out the top five.

This isn’t the first time that the Big Apple and our Nation’s Capital have been singled out for rudeness. And, chances are, it won’t be the last. At Woman Around Town, our sites are for women living and working in both cities and we beg to differ. New Yorkers and Washingtonians are not rude. We guess most of these critics hail from outside these cities, in other words, the majority of the survey respondents were tourists. What these fives cities have in common is that they are travel destinations. Few people plan their excursions around a trip to Des Moines or Fargo.

I think I speak for most residents of New York and Washington when I say that we love tourists. They keep our economies going and we enjoy the energy they bring. There’s nothing more exciting to me than to hear someone describe the joy of seeing the Metropolitan Museum of Art or taking a child to her first Broadway play. A DC Park Ranger told me that most of the visitors to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial are tourists and my bet is that most are touched by the experience.

Whether I’m in New York or Washington, I go out of my way to help tourists. Navigating the subway system in New York or the metro in DC can be a challenge. It helps to have someone make it a bit easier. In New York, I have often shared my metro card with a tourist who has boarded a bus without one. When riding my bike in Central Park, I have stopped to direct tourists who seem to be puzzling over a map. My intent is always the same. I love these two cities, live in both of them, and want visitors to share my enthusiasm.

Yet, there are times when dealing with tourists can be difficult and that’s perhaps when a city resident displays some rudeness. So, if you plan to visit either New York or DC as a tourist, here are some things to keep in mind.

Be considerate of workers. You may be on vacation, but we are at work. Grand Central is a prime example. Yes, it’s a beautiful building and it’s irresistible to take photographs. But when you block the corridors or create obstacles on the stairwell, you delay our commute.

Walk the walk. Strolling down Fifth Avenue or on the Mall is wonderful. Again, some of us have places to go and people to see. Navigating around tourists who walk five abreast while also pushing a stroller creates an obstacle course we would rather avoid.

Know the rules. Like in London, we line up for buses and cabs at appropriate stops. Don’t jump the line! Recently, my daughter and I were in line for a cab at Grand Central when a man appeared out of nowhere and tried to get in. We politely told him there was a line and he had to wait his turn. “I’ve heard New Yorkers are rude. Now I’ve seen it.” No, we told him, you are rude. He stomped away. (And probably filled out one of those surveys).

Dress the part. Dressing down has become the norm nationwide, but there’s casual dress and inappropriate dress. It’s offensive to the natives to dress up for an event at Lincoln Center or the Kennedy Center only to be seated next to someone in workout clothes.

Experience our food. Both New York and DC have wonderful local restaurants, many run by famous chefs. When you visit, don’t ask us how to get to the Olive Garden or Pizza Hut. Expect a cold stare. We will gladly direct you to a fabulous alternative. (Click to see our story on making a substitution in New York and in Washington).

And last but not least, return the favor. When we visit your city, extend us any and all courtesies. Please avoid comments like: “Aren’t you scared to live in New York?” (For the record, New York is now considered one of the safest cities in the country). Or, “We hate Washington! Those politicians are what’s wrong with everything!” (Reminder—you sent many of those politicians to Washington when you voted!)

The results of this T&L survey can be boiled down to a communication problem. Our hope is that, with this story, we now understand each other better. Next year, we hope both cities will finish far down the list.

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