I just spent 3 weeks temporarily living and working in New York City. While sleeping on my friend Kelley’s couch for 2 weeks, and commuting from Long Island for the last week, I gained a better knowledge of the NYC lifestyle. A few experiences come to mind; that I feel would be a real help to others who may want to visit or live in the small town someday.
Here are some tips I learned that SPARKED an “Oh of course!” moment in me when I figured them out. So let me just pass on the knowledge…
1. AIRPLANE MODE ON THE SUBWAY. My phone just could not handle the city.
At first I thought it was just because I was probably the only left in the world with a “dumb phone”. But the battery on my phone has always been great, and on average could last up to a week without charging. Well, after I spent a day in Manhattan my phone started dying on me all the time! Like, it would be fully charged in the morning and by the time I got back to the apartment it was down to no bars, or dead! It wasn’t until one of Kelley’s roommates pointed out the “airplane mode” trick to me that I found some relief.
While riding the subway, my phone was working extra hard to find a signal, and that was sucking it dry. BY SWITCHING MY PHONE TO AIRPLANE MODE, THE BATTERY WAS SAVED! Airplane mode cuts your phone off from the world for a bit so it doesn’t search for non-existent signals. Hey sometimes, your phone just needs a break too. This advice was genius! It worked! Once I started switching my phone to airplane mode while on the subway, or in buildings underground, my phone was acting like its old self again.
2. TRAFFIC LIGHTS ARE QUICKER. Waiting to cross? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Walking fast is a must in New York City, you just can’t help yourself. It’s the flow of traffic, walker’s traffic that is, on those roads called sidewalks. To avoid accidents or angry people riding your butt…. keep up!
I found myself in a hurry more than a few times while there. I would rush trying to catch a train, or finish an errand, or get to work on time after the subway got delayed, and speed walk like a mad woman. While speeding on the sidewalks and weaving through tourists and casual walkers, I became very annoyed with having to stop at a crosswalk for traffic (actual traffic, the kind with cars- just wouldn’t want you to get confused due to the previous metaphor and all).
I noticed that if you keep an eye on the actual traffic light- it turns red way before the crosswalk signal changes. Like 2 whole seconds before. Waiting those 2 seconds for that little white stick figure to appear just doesn’t cut it; I could be half way across the road by then. So I did it. Forget you crosswalk man, I’m watching the lights.
3. BUY FROM THE FRUIT STANDS. It’s only 1 dollar?!
Depending on the neighborhood you can find these make shift fruit stands set up. The ones I saw were away from Times Square and in more residential areas. At first I would just walk by thinking the fruit was probably about to go ripe or were more expensive. Well curiosity got the better of me and I finally walked up to the stand. I saw a plastic container of strawberries and asked how much. The guy answered one dollar. ONE DOLLAR! For the whole pack! I of course bought them, because that is an amazing deal! The strawberries were fine and lasted a good 4 days, like any normally would.
I highly suggest buying from those fruit stands instead of the grocery store. They are so much cheaper because the guy selling the fruit on the street doesn’t have to pay for the fruit’s transportation and distribution like major grocery stores do. The guy on the street cuts out the middle man buy picking up the fruit himself and bringing it to the consumers. He still turns a profit because buying in bulk is cheaper for him, and even selling a pack of strawberries for $1 is making him money. This really makes me feel ripped off by grocery stores!
4. SLIDE YOUR METROCARD EASY. It’s not a credit card.
I have to attribute this piece of advice to my friend Kelley. I kept complaining that almost every time I swiped my metrocard, the gate stayed closed and I got signaled to re-swipe. It was so annoying and embarrassing trying to glide through bars that wouldn’t budge. Kelley mentioned that she makes sure to easily swipe her card, and it works 99% of the time. She made a good point of saying it is not a credit card, its flimsy, you’ve got to be gentle with it. She was right. Once I stopped slicing the metro card through as hard as I could; the gates rarely ever stayed closed for me again!
5. Know where to sit on the LIRR. Why won’t these doors open?!
My last week of working in NYC I decided to stay with my good friend Alicia and her family on Long Island. The commute to Manhattan from Long Island was a bit long, but totally worth it for free home cooked meals and my own bed at night! To make the commute, I rode on the Long Island Railroad (LIRR).
PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT THE CONDUCTOR SAYS ABOUT THE STOPS. This is important because he will tell you which cars’ doors’ will open for each stop. My stop was the second to last one and the conductor made an announcement at the stop before mine that any passengers wanting to get off at the next stop (my stop) would be able to do so only in the last four cars of the train. Well my first day riding I didn’t catch this announcement. So when my stop came I stood at the doors waiting to get off, and they didn’t open! Someone told me I needed to go back to the last four cars to get off. I started running though the train! I ran 3 cars back and still didn’t make it in time. I had to call Alicia to come pick me up the next town over. I felt so bad. Some older stops have a smaller platform that isn’t long enough for the whole train, and that’s why passengers may be limited to what cars they can use to get off. Needless to say, for the rest of the week I sat in one of the last 4 cars of the train, and never missed my stop again.