Wednesday, December 20, 2006

An Open Letter to All NYC Tourists

Dear NYC Tourists,

Welcome to New York! You've chosen a lovely time to be here. Festive lights adorn every avenue; carefully crafted holiday displays fill our department store windows; the Christmas tree towers over the ice skating rink in Rockefeller Center...

It's a magical time of year, indeed.

And don't think for even a moment that we don't appreciate the millions of dollars in revenue you bring. I mean, let's be honest here, it takes a special kind of person to blow $500 a night on a tiny hotel room.
It's just that...well...I've noticed a few things of late that I think need to be brought to your attention.

The Sights
It might be helpful for you to know that as beautiful as the sights are, they are not likely to go anywhere for the next few weeks. With that in mind, you needn't stop abruptly in the middle of the sidewalk every two seconds because you see something interesting. Seriously. It's like walking behind Rosie O'Donnell at an all you can eat buffet.

Also, people probably won't stop and move out of your way every time you want to take a picture, so you'll need to learn to live with the fact that your potential Pulitzer Prize winning shot of the Macy's window display will likely contain the backs of the heads of the other thousand or so people who are taking the exact same shot.

Also, you're using a digital camera so if it doesn't come out right, you can always take another one. Hell, take another hundred in the hopes that one will magically capture the true essence of the holiday.

Dining
Please don't complain about the long lines and wait times at Planet Hollywood, Bubba Gump's, or the ESPN Zone. If you eat there, you deserve to suffer. There are thousands of excellent non-themed restaurants in the city. Go to one and you'll have something to talk about other than the tasteless half-chicken you ate while sitting beneath the autographed script from Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj and the prop gun from Police Academy: Mission to Moscow.

Getting Around
There's an unwritten rule here that you can cross the street whenever there is no traffic coming. I know the little red hand across the way says stop, but it's okay - you can go. Really.

If you don't believe me, just observe the people flowing by as you patiently wait at the curb like rocks in a stream. Of course, the stream would be burbling rather than cursing at you, but you get the point.

On a related note, the taxi cabs with their lights off already have fares. They aren't likely to toss out their passengers just because you're on 45th and 6th and your feet hurt too much to walk over to Rockefeller Center.

As for the subways, that's how most New Yorkers get around. We fully recognize that, much like the best parts of our city, they are dirty and gritty. They are, however, relatively safe and inexpensive. You're unlikely to be robbed, but it is pretty likely that you'll be beaten to death for refusing to remove your backpack as you cram onto a crowded car and then complaining about how rude everyone is for not respecting your personal space.

Shopping
Repeat after me: Best Buy is Best Buy is Best Buy.

The ones here are really no different than the ones you have at home - with the exception of the fact that they tend to cram more merchandise into every square foot. The same goes for the other big box retailers in town. Feel free to pass them by, secure in the knowledge that you're not missing a thing.

On second thought, you do want to make an exception for the Macy's in Herald Square. It's so big that you can easily become lost there. In fact, you should go there right now.

Don't worry, we'll send in a search party some time after January 1.

Your Friend,

Joe