Monday, January 12, 2009

Don't be a sucka

From time to time, my friends like to visit New York for a little sightseeing. I get asked about things to do and honestly, I'm probably not much better than a Fodor's guide, unless you are dying to see the super-exciting Upper East Side. Still, I thought I'd put together a few tips to help make visits here smooth and wonderful. Feel free to add to it, New York lurkers (I know you're there, my little West Side friend).

--My biggest piece of advice for getting along with the locals is this: get out of the way. We (and I think in this case, I can safely speak for everyone) like to keep it moving. When you get up to the cash register at the deli or store, look at the screen. It's unlikely she's going to actually *tell* you the total. I don't know why not, but she won't. Take your change and immediately move down a step or two. No one has patience for the neatly-put-the-change-in-the-walleters. Feel free to mosey on down the sidewalk, slowly checking out the sites. Just don't walk 5 people astride. If I can pass, I'm happy. That's really all it takes.

--If you are using public transportation, forget subway maps. Use It's fantastic. And if you see people riding in their underwear, don't be alarmed. Chances are it's the No Pants! Subway Ride. Drop trou and join in. (Or...don't.)

--There's a very cool little "fake ice" skating rink directly behind the planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. In the summer, it's a water park for the kiddies.

--People who work at any location of Duane Reade seem to like to argue with each other. It has nothing to do with you. Pay them no mind.

And beware of these scams:

Hot Dog / Ice Cream Vendors

They look so friendly, don't they? But double-check the prices on everything, and add up the total in your head. Otherwise, that $2 Rainbow Pop your kid is screaming for may cost you $4. Distracted parents are the easiest victims, it seems. It's certainly not ALL vendors who want to take that extra dollar or two of yours. Most are fine citizens trying to earn a living. But I've had this happen to me more than a few times (I got my eye on YOU, guy at 96th/5th!), so I thought I'd pass it along.

The I'm In Need Of Help Scam
Do you have sort of a "nice" look about you? Well, you might run into this seemingly-panicked guy: "I left my wallet in a cab and now I can't get back to Westchester! Oh please help me!" ::Looks sad, might even tear up::

I had one man lay a slightly different version on me. He was a young Hasidic man (or, at least, dressed that way) and he had his wallet stolen. He went on and on about how none of the synagogues in the area would help him out, and he only needed ten more dollars to get a ticket home. It was quite the detailed story. I, being a former sucker, gave it to him. And I saw him doing the same thing to someone else two weeks later.

The Take The Long Way Home Scam
I don't think this happens so much with taxi drivers anymore. It used to be that tourists would sometimes get a tour of all five boroughs before arriving at their hotels from the airport, but now that it's a flat fee, not so much. Still, if you need to take a livery cab with no meter, settle on the price before you get in the car.

And, of course, if you see this guy:

Keep your hand on your wallet!


Janna Qualman said...

ROFL! So helpful. Thank you!

Melanie Avila said...

OMG! This could be applied to Chicago too. :) I've had similar things happen with the street husslers. A guy had a very convincing story about running out of gas - he even had a car - but then I saw him drive away a short time later. Then he was back again a week later.

And I can't tell you how many tourists I've nearly knocked over because they suddenly stop in the middle of the sidewalk to stare at a brick in the side of a building, lol.

WendyCinNYC said...

Janna--Now...when are you coming out for a visit?

Melanie--True, they have them in Chicago as well--I have some first-hand experience with that.

spyscribbler said...

I've never been to NY. I want to go so much! I remember I was sick (for 7 years), and I really wanted to go anyway, and they convinced me I should wait until I was better. I remember telling them that I thought I could be sick for years (I was), and that I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.

I was right. I really shouldn't have listened. I've still never been!

Melanie Avila said...

I forgot to say the final warning is hilarious!!!

WendyCinNYC said...

Spy--If you ever make it here, let me know!

Melanie--He's a shifty one, that Bernie.

Rachel Burton said...

These are great! My friend in Manhattan complains about the stopping, gaping tourists so when I visit I try to keep my eyes forward. And like Melanie said, they're in Chicago as well!

Brian Jay Jones said...

And the Bike Cabbies! By no means, should you EVER take a bike cabbie!

Take it from me:


colbymarshall said...

I've only been to NY once, and I couldn't get over all the horn honking! I wonder if it's something you guys even notice when you live there, but around here we only honk in case of severe emergency. There it's constant. I was in shock, lol. Love this post :-)

WendyCinNYC said...

Rachel--If I don't bump into them, they can stop and gape all they want. I do when I travel!

Brian--You know, I've never been in one of those. Doesn't look too safe!

Colby--What's that? I can't hear you!
(I've been known to yell at the honkers, as if that really helps.)

Rafael said...

Lessons to live by in any major urban area, including the honking!

If I see the man in the picture I would run, I would punch him in the face!

west side lurker said...

My only comment would be to second - LOUDLY - the "get out of the way" advice. I work near Times Square and my commute is five minutes longer each day than it has to be because I am dodging tourists and getting stuck behind a slow-moving (and often wide) posse of out of towners. Get the lead out, people. Seriously!