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Advice for tourists so I don't accidentally mug you.

by Jane (writer), Astoria, April 23, 2007

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Recently, I was riding my beloved subway when an adorable tourist family got on at 5th Avenue. They were bubbly, jumpy and completely lost. The father had the expression of a man worn down by years of wondering where his youth had gone. The mother wore the high-adrenaline expression of a hyena waiting for someone to steal her offspring. The children were bouncy and loud and completely oblivious to everything around them. They all had backpacks. They all had shiny new sneakers. They all had digital cameras swinging from their wrists. They all had hats on. The father had a huge guidebook in one hand and a subway map in the other. They wondered loudly where they were going, how they should get there and how long it would take.

Standing there on the train, watching this hapless lost family, I had the sudden urge to mug them and take their money and cameras. Why would a delightful non-violent person such as myself have the urge to mug innocent travelers? Because they were begging for it. They wanted it. They may as well have had hundred dollar bills pinned to their jackets while they slept on a park bench. There are many lists of obvious things to do to deter real criminal muggers. NYC tourist, I’ve decided to share my tips for making regular people not want to mug you:

1) It’s okay to be lost but don’t look lost. Don’t say things like “Oh, man! We’re on the wrong train! I wish I could figure out these damn trains! I’m always so confused here in this Big Apple!” You should look at the map at your hotel but if you must look at a map in public, please be subtle about it. Don’t pull out a giant folding map and have a big discussion about where you are, why you’re lost and whose fault it is. There are two subway maps on every subway car. Even natives will check the map now and then. If you can check it quickly and casually, all the better. And don’t say “Big Apple.” That’s just gross.

2) If you are going to ask for directions, don’t fill your voice with panic and despair. I was once accosted by a woman who shouted, “WHICH WAY IS UPTOWN??!!” I didn’t know she was addressing me at first because she angrily shouted the question up at a building. How rude. I simultaneously had the urge to give her guided meditation and take her wallet. I battled both urges and pointed in the correct direction. Ask for directions in such a way that it sounds like you confirming an answer that you already knew and for the love of Jiminy, smile.

3) Don’t stop at the top of escalators. The rate of the step-motion is constant and if you stop at the top, you will be in the way of someone who can’t control the rate at which they will bump you. If you find yourself baffled at the top (or bottom) of an escalator, step to the side to figure it out. (See #1 for more on this.)

4) Similarly, when you stop to marvel at how tall the buildings are, please do so in a less dense area of the sidewalk to not disrupt the flow of pedestrian traffic. There is rhythm and flow on the streets of New York City that you are not prepared for because where you’re from, you drive everywhere. But trust me, step aside to marvel.

5) Don’t list ground zero as a tourist attraction when speaking to a native. I shouldn’t need to explain why this is in poor taste and yet, it happens all the time.

6) When you see off-off-Broadway productions, don’t say anything negative about the show until you are at least five blocks away. Much of the audience is made up of the friends and family of the people involved with the production. They will be standing around outside the theater when the show’s over. If you can’t fight the urge to say something negative, make sure it’s at least intelligent and be prepared to defend your position.

7) Houston street is pronounced HOW’-sten, not HEW’-sten like the city in Texas. I don’t know why. I’m not going to look up why. Just believe me.

Those are the major things that set me off. In general, the dazed-and-bewildered look should not grace the face of any tourists, not just the ones visiting my fine city. I should note that I’m always outwardly nice to tourists. Mostly because I see them as walking dollar signs that pump money into the local economy. But also, aside from the occasional and sudden urge to mug, I’m a nice person.


About the Writer

Jane is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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5 comments on Advice for tourists so I don't accidentally mug you.

Log In To Vote   Score: 1
By Jane on April 23, 2007 at 03:31 pm
Lettuce, this is a good question. I think you can get a cheaper venti decaf non-fat mocha if you open your own Starbucks in your living room. Let me research this and get back to you.
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By Venditto on April 24, 2007 at 10:49 am
Excellent points you make here. For me people who stop at the top of escalators are one of my biggest pet peeves. Right between tampon commercials and the Irish. Nice article.
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By Steven Lane on April 24, 2007 at 09:14 pm
We sent them to you from here in L.A.---Please, understand anything underground scares us.
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By Jane on April 24, 2007 at 10:52 pm
Venditto, I agree with you about the Irish but I'll be damned if I buy an outdated version of the tampon I've always used. That's just wrong. Steven, your fast-moving highways and rolling hills of rich people scare us. And yet, half my friends have made the plunge. Curious.
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By N!c Perrino on May 09, 2007 at 09:35 am
hahahha yesss the HOUSTON thing will tell you if someone is a native or not. LOVED IT.
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