Breaking News: Americans Are Friendly. But Are New Yorkers?

by BILLY GRAY · January 4, 2010

Many predicted that after Obama's election, our friends across the pond would view us Americans in a better light. British novelist Geoff Dyer offered proof of that in a Times opinion piece yesterday that showered praise on friendly, polite and courteous (but still "country-bumpkinish"!) yanks. But does any of this hold true for New Yorkers?


Let's examine Dyer's findings:



Americans are loud, but only because, unlike the English, we "have no fear of being overheard."

New Yorkers are loud because we wouldn't be able to hear each other over the din of loudmouthed restaurant neighbors within ideal elbow-throwing distance (the logical next step) of our table.

Americans abroad "address bus drivers and bartenders as 'sir.'"

New Yorkers at home stab bus drivers with the gall to demand riders pay the fare.

When Americans meet a European visiting the States country, "they are not just friendly and polite — they are also charming."

When New Yorkers meet a European visiting the city we are charming because we automatically presume said European visitor to be a sophisticate. Also, we are too exhausted from scoffing at domestic tourists who walk five abreast along narrow sidewalks and, if lucky, successfully swipe their MetroCard on the 37th attempt.

Americans say "Hi" to airplane seatmates. Englishmen flying out of America say "hi" before "a kind of preparatory freeze has set in" halfway across the ocean.

New Yorkers might say "Hi" to airplane seatmates if they've gotten drunk enough at the airplane Houlihan's.  We then settle into a requisite Ambien coma as soon as the plane leaves the runway.

In America it is inconceivable that tennis players would rush previous players off the court by unzipping our rackets and hovering mutely.

In New York, it is inconceivable that anyone could find an indoor tennis court, let alone book one.

Whether or not New Yorkers live up to Dyer's standards, he concludes with one observation that will always endear us to the Brits (or at least those in the service industry): we tip.