I’m not one of those people that praises America. (I mean in the current state we’re in, what compliments are there really left to pay?) I detest the people who post statuses on Facebook saying something to the effect of, “This is America.” In my mind, they always have a long Southern drawl because that’s where the ignorant rednecks who still fly the Confederate flag, have a shit ton of guns, and are ‘God fearing people’, live. If I read that status, or anything remotely resembling this thoughtless expression, I defriend them. Instantly. But as a person who works in the hospitality industry, I believe that the restaurant business is the one exception where American customs must be observed or else people may be subjected to what I like to call, “I will cut a bitch” syndrome. This isn’t everywhere else in the world where tip is included on the bill. Doesn’t matter if you come from Russia or from under a fucking rock. You absolutely HAVE to tip the waiters and waitresses. I don’t care if it’s less than 20%. Hell, I don’t even care if it’s less than 10%. But if you have enough money to take your broke ass out to dinner, you damn sure better be tipping the person who served it to you. Another thing, this isn’t fucking Europe, where everyone and their grandmother eats dinner after 10:00pm and stays until 2:00am. This is America, where people don’t have the luxury to just breeze along lackadaisically while you take three years to sip wine and eat dessert. If the kitchen closes at 10:30pm, you don’t make a reservation at 10:15pm and proceed to order the 9-course tasting menu and make the entire restaurant staff stay an extra three hours because in your culture, that’s an acceptable form of behavior. In America, this behavior is referred to as douchebag, asshole, or in layman’s terms, “That Guy.” Don’t be him. He’s not cool. I think every international tourist should be given a handbook of local customs that must be followed to prevent fatal injuries or at the very least, death stares, from the natives. Restaurant etiquette needs to have its own section. Because if I have to delay my personal freedom because some Parisian princess has to eat at 11:00pm, there’s no telling what might happen to her food.
Rikki, actress/server, Brooklyn
Being in mid-twenties is a difficult time to gauge your friends as people who are just having fun in their fleeting youth – or are gradually becoming alcoholics. A few years ago, getting textbook plastered every other night didn’t, in anyway, trigger any alarms. We were all just having fun and experiencing life out of college and taking control of everything for ourselves. But now it seems like a bit too much. How do you take care of business when you’re hungover as shit all the time? I know I can’t drink like I used to — the consequential hangover feels like I’m legitimately dying. I can’t imagine feeling like that all the time now! I would curl up in a ball, and then actually die. But some of my friends are still subjecting themselves to these terrible morning-afters and perpetually lost cell phones and spilt red wine — even though they know the repercussions very well. Guess I’ll give it another year or two before I start personally escorting them to AA classes.
Ben, chef, Harlem
I am quite the literary fanatic. One might even use the word “nerd” to describe me. I love to read. Always have, always will. It’s how I was raised. When my father took me to the bookstore and announced that he would buy me two books, I spent hours ensuring that I picked the perfect ones. As a result, being literarily inclined is a quality I look for in the people I surround myself with: friends, co-workers, and especially significant others. So when I hear someone who I have come to admire, and enjoy spending time with, say, “I don’t like to read,” It’s a turn off. A major fucking red flag that forces me into an existential crisis and causes a ripple of questions to pop into my mind. Did this person go to college? Yes, that’s how I met him. Then how can he not like reading? I don’t know. What’s the best part about reading? That it engages the imagination. Does this person blow my mind in bed? Yes. Then how could he not like reading? I don’t know. No matter how many questions I ask myself, I can never understand why anyone, young or old, male or female, could possibly abhor reading. Besides the airplane, it’s the closest thing we have to time travel. Books have brought us the most iconic entertainment series of our generation. Harry Potter. Game of Thrones. Even The Walking Dead was a graphic novel! So if you don’t like reading, I think it’s time to re-evaluate your life. At the very least, it’s time to get out of mine. Because I have no use for people who can’t think outside the box.
Elenore, publishing, UWS
Public transportation may have the word public in it; but in reality, that shit is private. Every person is in their own little world: either wrapped up in a portable device, an intense conversation with a peer, or entranced in reading material. Whatever medium they’re choosing to occupy their time, they want to be left alone. Especially if someone is wearing headphones. That is universal sign for “Do Not Fucking Disturb Me.” So, surely you can understand my outrage when a man approaches me on the subway and attempts to strike up a witty conversation. Well, I know that you’re not blind, because you can CLEARLY see I am wearing headphones and purposefully blocking out all other noise around me. 1. I just got off work. I am tired, I had to spend my entire day talking to people. And now you’re turning what would have been quiet time into “I’m going to pretend to want to get to know you, but really all I want to do is get in your pants” time. Basically, you’re disrupting my Me Time.
2. Public transportation is crowded and cramped as it is; you’re making me feel more uncomfortable by the second because you’re intruding on my bubble of personal space, which I have no opportunity to escape without making myself look like a total bitch, and you like a complete asshole – which you are. 3. Unless you are devastatingly handsome, like a full-on 8 or higher, go away, because you have no shot in hell with me.
Sarah, personal trainer, Hoboken
I’m sitting on my morning one-train, waiting for it to depart (I live way way up in the Bronx.) It’s pretty early in the morning so there are only a few of us in the car. Engine’s off. It’s dead silent. Since unprovoked human interaction has, quite frankly, died, it’s pin drop quiet. Seriously; all I hear is ragged breath and the wind howling outside. All of a sudden the silence shatters in the most gut wrenching, stomach turning way possible. There’s the faintest suckling, squishing noise. The woman in the next seat is chewing gum. Chewing gum with your mouth open is not only rude, it’s positively revolting. Chewing gum so loudly that everyone within the general vicinity can hear it pop, smoosh, and then reform inside your probably cesspool infected mouth? That is the most passive aggressive form of obnoxiousness that I can imagine. It’s borderline hillbilly behavior. Close your mouth and chew in silence. Show some respect.
Letitia, lawyer, Bronx
It’s so weird interacting with lovers of loves long past. I always find myself on this weird fence of am I going to be a dick to them because they really hurt my feelings and should give them a taste of their own medicine… or am I going to be nice so I don’t seem like a total bitch? Because once it’s usually done, I’m not really one to revisit. So am I boring and nice, facilitating a cordial face-to-face? Seems like the right choice, but that’s so boring and meek! I like the spicy idea to confuse them, making them unsure if I can tolerate them or not. I like being ambiguously sassy. After this course of action, I may sometimes feel petty and childish; but it’s just such an uncomfortably awkward situation! I don’t know what to do. It’d really just be better if they didn’t contact you months later and pretty much just forgot you existed. That would be the polite thing to do. But of course, chivalry is dead.
Camila, designer, Union Square
Why is everyone in a fucking rush to get married? I don’t get the whole race down the aisle phenomenon that seems to be consuming our generation. My friend Hannah just got married. She’s 23. Twenty-fucking-three. (She married a 33 year old, but that’s beside the point.) They were dating for less than a year when he proposed, and she said yes. Of course she did. I wasn’t surprised. Let me give you some background on my friend Hannah. She doesn’t date organically — only online. Hannah once dropped the “L” word on the first date. She’s one of those girls that assumes that if the relationship lasts more than a month, she’s found “the one.” As a result, she’s found “the one” about 5 times. When Hannah told me she was engaged, I threw up in my mouth a little bit. She then proceeded to tell me how she and her fiance wanted a short engagement. So I asked her, “If you know that you’re going to spend the rest of your life with this person, what’s the rush to get married?” If the only reason is to reap the legal benefits, and officially announce to the world that you’re no longer single, then that’s fucking ridiculous. You can lie to yourself all you want about how in love you are, and how ready you are to dedicate your lives to each other; but don’t insult me by trying to cover up the fact that you can’t suck it up and be emotionally self sufficient. It’s pathetic. It’s misrepresentation. It’s a fucking rouse for all the independent single women out there. It makes us look bad. It makes us look lonely. I believe the word self-help gurus use is “incomplete.” When in fact, we’re single because we have more important priorities to worry about than dying alone. Come to think of it, that’s not such a terrible idea as we all sure as hell do.
Marion, nurse, Staten Island
Summer’s Eve and men used to share the same mentality: “Hail to the V.” When did they abandon us? When did women suddenly become internationally known as Public Enemy Number One? Did you know that sexual assaults have their own set of statistical analysts? That’s what we’ve been reduced to, statistics. A collective mass of numbers on a screen instead of real people. But men love their numbers. It makes them feel logical. We women love our words. That makes us emotional, right? So “unfit” to make rational decisions. Before advanced medicine, quacks used to diagnose our unexplainable behavior as hysteria. Modern day men are still attempting to tackle its most deadly symptoms. Women considered to be suffering from hysteria exhibited a wide array of symptoms — including sexual desire, fluid retention, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and, my personal favorite, “a tendency to cause trouble.” In extreme cases a woman could be forced into an asylum to undergo a surgical hysterectomy. Basically, the only options for women suffering from acute PMS were invasive and involuntary surgery, or to be exiled until the crazy went away. Funny how history repeats itself–because the way I see it, not much has changed.
Celia, writer, Brooklyn
Parents of the World: Your iPhone is not a pacifier. Your iPad is not a blankie. If you can’t figure out that your little thing keeps talking because it is unhappy, or because it’s being made to sit through the loud movie you’ve been dying to see (consequently DISTURBING EVERYONE ELSE IN THE THEATER), you aren’t fit to be a parent. If I see another portable DVD player while I’m eating at a nice restaurant, I’m going to up-end your table. I’m sorry you chose to burden yourself with a small creature that cries, screams, and wiggles a lot; but that was your choice, and now you have to make some sacrifices. Sacrifices mean that if you can’t get a babysitter, you may not be able to go to that new Thai place that opened last month. Bringing the ankle-biter and sticking a DVD in front of it doesn’t make your child any more pleasant to be around — and having to listen to the DVD play is NOT what I’m looking for while I’m trying to eat with my friend. If your kid is at that stage where they don’t enjoy eating out, guess what? Too. Damn. Bad. For. You.
Bette, first responder, Queens
Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, I was told (constantly) that I would go to college, figure out what I wanted to do for a living, get a degree towards that goal, and get a job. It would be entry level, I’d be trained and paid and given raises accordingly. Well I’ve been and done college. I’ve been done for 5 years — and I still don’t have that entry level job. No, what do I have? I have two part time jobs, both of which schedule their employees very carefully to make sure that full-time isn’t a possibility. Because God forbid you keep a smaller staff of fully-trained employees who know what they’re doing and can actually take care of issues as issues come up — YOU MIGHT HAVE TO OFFER INSURANCE! OR PAID DAYS OFF! THE. FUCKING. HORROR. No, much better to have a huge staff of people who come in at odd fucking times of the day and don’t know anything because nobody’s trained them and then wonder why people get angry because I can’t help them immediately.
Sally, singer, Tribeca
You know that friend we all have? The one who never asks about you unless you leave some monumentally unsubtle hint, but can talk about themselves forever and a day without pausing for breath? The one with whom every conversation is in fact a contest of one-upmanship that you don’t even realize you’re having until about twelve minutes in and you’re casting out for that ONE experience of SOMETHING you’ve had that you know she didn’t? The one with whom you have to schedule a deadline otherwise they’ll never actually do what they promise? And half the time they don’t keep that promise even when there’s a deadline, and you can’t help but feel like the most trivial thing is now the biggest deal in the world because it just keeps happening. What is it about that friend that we keep coming back to? Why can’t we cut ourselves off from them and live happily ever after? Surely that has to be better than the constant feeling of disappointment. Just think of the mental stress that could be avoided if only you didn’t have to store up little moments of “LOOK AT ME! I’M WORTH TALKING ABOUT TOO!”. And yet we keep turning back to them as though the punishment adds some kind of validation to our existence — when in fact all it does is give us something to whine at mother about. (And all she’s going to do is tell you to let go and cut off the friendship, but you know you can’t. Vicious cycle.) What is it about that friend and why do we keep falling for it?
Robert, fashion, Midtown
Lobsters, as we know, are probably cooked in the most inhumane way possible (except for the way ducks are fed to make foie gras). Lobsters are personally hand picked by their clients, and put into boiling water… alive. They are literally cooked alive. When more than one lobster is cooked at a time, something quite fascinating happens, depending on their gender. Male lobsters will form a sort of ladder in an attempt to help their fellow lobsters escape. On the other hand, female lobsters will intentionally hold each other down — a sort of “if I can’t get out, no one can” mentality. I can’t help but thinking that this is symbolic of human females as well.
Olive, insurance, Brighton Beach
There is a woman at my job, let’s call her Fern. Fern is my superior, not necessarily my boss, but within the same rank. No matter what I am doing, she has the uncanny knack to put me down for something. At first I thought it was just me, but then I saw how she behaved toward my female co-workers as well and it confirmed my suspicions. She doesn’t like women. She’s subconsciously threatened by the presence of other vaginas in the room. It’s like she feels backed into a corner and therefore always needs to come out swinging, asserting her dominance in the room so no one can even come close. It’s beyond rude, it’s further than condescending — it’s borderline harassment and verbal abuse. If I wasn’t so broke, I’d quit my job. Then I’d kick her ass.
Jenny, pr, Westchester
This is New York City. When we moved here, we mentally signed an unspoken contract that laid out the daily obstacles we would face in the city. There will always be lines at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. Times Square is reserved for tourists, cartoon characters, and the Naked Cowboy. Finally, you will frequently become irrationally angry at slow walkers, loud neighbors, and screaming children who mildly disrupt your current quality of life to the point of near suicide, homicide, or combination of the two.
Billy, driver, Queens
New Yorkers put up with a lot. But one thing we absolutely will NOT abide by, nor should we have to, is singing on public transit. I don’t care if you have headphones in your ears. I don’t care if the whole damn train has headphones in their ears. You don’t sing while riding public transit. Save that for the shower, dancing in your bedroom, or when you’re doing karaoke. If you have your headphones in, you’re going to sing even louder so you can hear yourself; because us humans have a subconscious need to hear the sound of our own voice. But that does not mean that everyone else in the general vicinity of you needs to hear your gibberish. So shut the fuck up, and let me travel in peace.
Debby, advertising, Brooklyn
My roommate. I love her, but she is the constant reminder of why I don’t want kids. I cook for her, clean up after her, and incessantly nag her. I berate her for not cleaning her room, do the dishes, and take the trash out, which she never does the first time around. I even buy all the supplies — edible and functional. The rest come from her parents and Costco. I’m the mother and the wife. And did I mention I already have TWO jobs that actually pay me?! I don’t need a third. Cooking and cleaning are not innately feminine skills, they are life skills that one learns overtime. I am her caretaker. Sometimes I want to be her undertaker. But I imagine all parents feel that way at one point with their children.
Joanne, teacher, Midtown
All talk and no action make for a regretful existence. All your thoughts begin out as, “I want to…” but overtime, those unfulfilled desires become, “I should have…”. Don’t turn your present wish list into your future bucket list. Make it happen now. If not for pure spontaneity, than for everyone else in your life who is sick and fucking tired of hearing you bitch and moan about how much you want to go to Thailand, but splurged $500 on a Michael Kors shopping spree so you never have enough money for trips like that! Take some responsibility. Then take action. There will always be roadblocks in your life, so start making the strides to override those obstacles before there’s a wall so big you can’t climb over it — like kids or the zombie apocalypse.
Jamie, event manager, Financial District
When things don’t work out the way we want or expect, be that a relationship, a job interview, or a school application, we tend to fall apart. Crumble under the intensity of pain. It sucks, immeasurable on any seismograph — especially if you’ve been working for years to perfect your candidacy. It’s worse than heartbreak. The rejection is icy cold, because it freezes you. It forces you to crouch into the crawl space of your mind and never want to leave. It hardens your heart and immobilizes your mind from concentrating on anything other than the moment when you felt everything slipping away.
My roommate recently got rejected from dental school — for the second year in a row. Devastation doesn’t begin to describe her pain. She is an absolute shipwreck, and she’s sinking faster than the Titanic. She has sunk into this depression, where nothing, and no one, can pull her out. I can’t seem to shake her free of its grip. She’s sleeps in her free time, doesn’t eat much, and is genuinely very sad. I’m working my ass off failing to cheer her up. Girls night in a salon, binge watching her favorite shows on Netflix, buying her pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream so she can eat her feelings. I even bought a fun new activity for the apartment: a dartboard so she can channel all her residual anger out on it instead of herself. But she won’t budge, not an inch.
Ginny, clinician, Washington Heights
I think there should be a campaign started that advocates the flow of traffic on NYC sidewalks. There should be signs hung that say, “Our Sidewalks Are Like Our Streets, Go The Speed Limit, Do Not Slam On Your Brakes, Do Not Veer Into Oncoming Traffic, No Weaving.” There’s nothing that drives me more crazy than a group of tourists lollygagging on the sidewalk, walking at a speed a snail would scoff at, who get all ruffled when someone that has somewhere to actually go shoves past them. Have some common courtesy. We all share the sidewalk and use it to get wherever the fuck we’re going, NOT as a place to aimlessly stroll. I also love it when you’re walking, and the person in front of you JUST STOPS. If we were in cars, there would seriously be black wheel-marks and smoke coming from my tires. Encountering people with bad sidewalk etiquette is the worst way to start, end, or interrupt your otherwise perfectly busy day.
Susan, retail, Jersey City
Lately I feel like dating in New York is a lot like going to high school. There’s your high school—your nook of the city where you know everyone and frequent the same bars and stores; basically, the place where most of your friends live. Then there are other high schools—anyone that exists in another part of the city and naturally revolves their life around said area where you are foreign to their turf, and therefore, a rival and/or relative stranger. It’s tough to meet people that go to other high schools simply because your life just doesn’t overlap. Whenever people date that are in different high schools, everyone is so curious how they met… no one can fathom that it happened organically because it’s just not natural. Plus, whenever you go to nightclubs, it’s kind of like school mixers where the boys and girls play games with each other and act disinterested until someone breaks the ice and then you dance together for the rest of the night. Wow. We’re all really just big immature teenagers.
Toni, Beautician, Chelsea
5. Aging through your twenties, you begin to witness how differently men treat you. When I was in my early twenties, I thought most older men I interacted with out on the town as strange perverts. And, in retrospect, they probably just thought I was naïve and inexperienced (which is true, even though I would’ve never admitted that then) and were preying on it. Today, I still think of guys that prey on super young women as strange perverts. However, now that I’m reaching my mid-twenties, I notice that men are taking me more seriously. They actually start listening to what you have to say and contribute accordingly, not just giggle at a little girl using big words who thinks she knows what she’s talking about. I’m really enjoying the transition out of novelty to human being. It also makes me excited for my thirties, even. Men probably really start to give you credibility then!
At what point does someone’s depression become too depressing to be around? The energy they project is toxic. It poisons all positivity from the room and exhausts you to the point where it is a struggle to even smile. There’s only so much you can do for someone else who is unwilling to do anything for themselves. They need to be the ones to dilute their funk; for if you continue to be sucked into their sadness, you’ll find yourself laying on the couch all day right along with them.