I’m not sure if this latest gem from The New York Times actually deserves analysis, since the title of the article—“Newcomers Adjust, Eventually, to New York”—pretty much explains what’s wrong.
But, I guess, having wondered for 380 years if people ever feel comfortable in the Big Apple, the world can now rest easy because we’ve got that pressing issue addressed. The article includes such exhilarating anecdotes as:
The subway begins to make sense. Patience is whittled away; sarcasm often ensues. New friends are made, routines established, and city life begins to feel like second nature. In other words, newcomers find themselves becoming New Yorkers.
It’s not just that this is sort of dumb, or that it’s been done by the Times before. Yup, people do, indeed, settle down and get to know a place after they’ve been there awhile. This might work if the author used the story of settling down in New York to illustrate something about New York as a city, or even the sort of people who move there. But this actually just makes use of old fashioned stereotypes about the city:
Ian Ingersoll’s moment happened within weeks of his move from Seattle to New York last fall. He suddenly found himself exasperated by slow moving pedestrians, and, like a true New Yorker, began darting around them instead.
Oh, like all New Yorkers, he is impatient. And later:
Ms. Phin already finds herself getting annoyed more easily, even though she arrived from Texas only two months ago. The culture at her job, as a marketer for an engineering company, was a lot more abrasive than she had expected. “Nothing is sugarcoated,” she said. And so, she is finding herself growing a tougher skin. “I thought I’d bring my niceness with me,” she said, “but already I feel an edge developing. Because you need to, to deal.”
Because New Yorkers are all so blunt, you know. New Yorkers figure that out.
Missing only are anecdotes about how cigarettes cost eight dollars, people have funny accents, and something about getting a slice of New York pizza.Daniel Luzer is web editor of the Washington Monthly.