The last two times I went to Manhattan, no fewer than four pedestrians and straphangers asked me for directions. I guess I’ve just got one of those faces, the one that gets me elected foreman when I’m on jury duty, but I can’t stand on a street corner without fielding queries as to which direction whatever avenue is or sit on the subway without explaining how to get to Canal Street if the R train’s not going to the city from Brooklyn. And what do I get for my patience and trouble? A bunch of survey takers telling me I’m a jerk.
Earlier this week, Business Insider conducted a poll of more than 1,600 Americans to gauge their opinions about different states: which has the weirdest accent? (Massachusetts, agreed.) Which is the craziest? (California, sure.) Who has the most hotties? (California, c’mon.) And New York State—by which we mean New York City, right? Because what American has an opinion, informed or stereotyped, about Schenectady?—won by wide margins for Rudest (44 percent) and Most Arrogant (39 percent).
That’s not surprising; New York has always had a reputation for an I’m-walkin’-here brusqueness. But you’d think that image would have started to soften: the number of visitors to the city increased by more than 40 percent just between 2000 and 2011, from 36 million to 51 million, according to city tourism statistics. Almost 80 percent of the tourists in 2011 were domestic, an almost 40 percent increase since 2000.
With more and more of our fellow Americans coming to visit the city—and, anecdotally at least, doesn’t it seem like more New Yorkers, especially in certain parts of Brooklyn, are moving here from other states?—why aren’t we losing our reputation as the curmudgeoniest city? Is it because the more people that come to visit, the more people we have to shout at not to stop walking in the middle of a busy sidewalk? Personally, I’ve never ever witnessed anyone be mean to a tourist in New York except maybe a member of their own family. You know who I have seen be mean to tourists? People in their non-New York home-states, to people from New York.
But at least America doesn’t totally hate us: 19 percent of them also said that New York has the best food, a higher number of votes than any other state. They may hate our waiters, but they love our grub.
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