Copyleft John Skelson 2012
Manhattan from Staten Island
I’ve been in New York for three years. Is that right?

That can’t possibly be right. Didn’t I just get here yesterday? And haven’t I been here for longer? No, it’s true. My New York birthdate is 9/9/09, so it’s incredibly easy to remember. Also they turn on these huge spotlights in downtown Manhattan every year around this time, though I forget why exactly.


September 11th jokes are here to stay, people. It’s only a matter of time before the tragedy of that day is as distant to the general population as the Holocaust is now. Not that Holocaust jokes are funny, just that they exist. As a thing. Whatever, I don’t have to explain myself to you.

ANYWAY. An old friend of mine from high school is moving to New York and he recently asked me for any advice I had about making the transition. As I am nothing if not lazy, I decided to copy and paste most of what I wrote to him here in honor of my Manhatta-versary. Yeah, I know– you probably want some more sermons about drug use or something. But you know what? Shut up.

(to live in New York):

  • Shit is hard to do here. That will surprise you at first, then keep surprising you again and again. Shit’s easier if you have a car– at least shit like buying an A/C unit is– but having a car is a whole other order of hard-to-do-ness.
  • Space is different. Especially in Manhattan. It’s like being a giant in the land of the little people at first. That goes away after a few months.
  • Bathrooms are always behind, or occasionally in, the kitchen.
  • Unlimited subway cards are $104/month. Probably worth it for your first couple months unless you have a car (see above). Once you get a regular routine you should do the math and make sure it’s still worth it.
  • Respect trajectories. When a vehicle or bicycle appears to be on a collision course with you DO NOT CHANGE YOUR SPEED OR DIRECTION. Doing so will cause a major malfunction in the Manhattan flow. In New York the asshole is the guy that stops short, not the guy that punches it through the intersection.
  • Don’t take your money out before you ask how much something costs. If you do, it will end up costing the amount of money in your hand.
  • A lotta neighborhoods in BK have organic fruit/veggie delivery from local growers. For all the rest of New York there’s Freshdirect. And something called Soap. I don’t know what that is. Also most local grocery shops (Trader Joe’s a notable exception) will deliver for a fee or for a $50 minimum order.
  • Time is different in New York. You’ll experience more life in three months than you have in three years elsewhere. You’ll be exhausted, and you’ll have accomplished nothing. Ever wonder why all New Yorkers have dark sleep circles under their eyes? Now you know.
  • Beer sucks here. If you’re lucky, a bar will have a couple Brooklyn Brewery options (too sweet for my taste) or a beer from Goose Island. Most bars, however, will have four taps: Miller, Miller Light, Budweiser, and Bud Light. Some bars also have a “house brew” named after the place — Paddy O’Brien’s Lucky Ale or something. Don’t be fooled. It’s Coors.
  • Don’t take the subway when you can walk.
  • COROLLARY: you can walk pretty much everywhere.
  • People will check you out here. And not in the surreptitious way you may be used to — people will give you a complete head-to-toe once over and you’ll see their opinion forming on their face. DON’T STOP TO LOOK AT IT OR YOU’LL GET RUN OVER.
  • Coffee comes in sizes, not ounces. A small is usually 12oz, and a medium is usually 16oz. In all likelihood you’ll be asked how you want it. For some reason, the one thing New Yorkers don’t trust you to do for yourself is put milk in your coffee. The correct answer to this question is not to smirk and go, “In a cup?” The correct answer is to respond clearly and quickly, using as few syllables as possible: “Milk,” “Milk Sugar,” or “Black.” You’ll know you got the answer right if the coffee guy calls you “boss” when he hands you the cup.
  • Don’t waste your time with espresso. Nobody knows how to do that here.
  • Get a Chase card. They have the most ATMs in the city, since they have one in every Duane Reade. But don’t do it right away. A few weeks after you move in, Chase will mail you a special offer to receive $75 bucks just for opening a new account. If you wait a couple more weeks they’ll double it to $150.
  • Finally, after you’ve been here about eight months you should go to Times Square and wander around amazed that it’s a part of the city where YOU NOW LIVE.

1 Comment

  1. Two Words Boss: Canny. Informative.


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