I recently wrote about the actual worst parts about living in New York City that no one ever tells you about. On the flipside, here are 10 things that DON'T actually happen in New York City, despite what movies and tv shows seem to constantly believe happens there:
In movies and tv shows, almost any time a character hails a cab in New York (and it doesn't blow past them while cartoonishly splashing them with a puddle), it will somehow result in two strangers viciously fighting over it, with both people angrily claiming they got there first and hurling insults at one another and all the other stuff you totally do to random strangers in a huge dangerous city.
In real life New York, there's almost always tons of cabs (plus there's Uber and Lyft), and even when someone does take the cab you were trying to hail, it's usually an honest mistake, and rarely if ever results in you and some strangers getting into a heated face-to-face debate that also somehow ends with the two of you sleeping together (because the secret is you're actually a perfect match!)
Ahh, New York apartments -- in tv and movies, you're gonna end up living next to a slightly goofy (or super attractive) neighbor who ends up being integral to your life, especially when they come over for parties and end up puking their homemade moonshine all over your CEO-crush (dang!!!)
In real life, your neighbor's either going to be a normal calm regular person who you nod at while getting mail, or someone totally crazy who you want zero interaction with (and you're never forced into any, because it's real life and strangers don't, like, run into you at a restaurant when you're on a date and insist on sitting with you.)
My current upstairs neighbor (no joke) is the 102-year-old uncle of the landlord and frequently throws his cane at his live-in nurse at all hours of the evening. My previous neighbor was a guy who once emailed me asking me to steal his subletter's guitar out of his apartment and hold it for ransom until the subletter paid him. Needless to say, I did not spent much time partying down with either of these individuals.
When I first moved to New York, I was under the impression that there were things called "New York Delis" at every corner where you'd walk in, be greeted by the warm elderly owners who know you, they'd ask "the usual? One SOUPY SALES, hold the mayo??" and you'd nod, and they'd make you a delicious hand-made "only in New York" style sandwich with house-cured meats and house-pickled pickles and house-everything'd everything-else and you'd eat it while laughing at other dumb cities that think they can make sandwiches.
In reality, there's like, 5 of these delis. And the best ones are super touristy and expensive (though legitimately great). And the best one near me just closed (shit).
The "Delis" on every corner are actually just bodegas, which are (extremely-convenient) mini convenience stores that will make you sandwiches, but they're just Boar's Head cold cuts thrown on bread and sometimes grilled or whatever, and they're all identical and cheap and fine. Convenient, for sure, but nothing special.
(You can read more about bodegas in this super-official guide.)
If you're not a professional theater critic or literally the New Yorker Guy, you can't afford to go to Broadway shows with any sort of regularity. Unless you're one of those shady Russian businessmen who keeps buying the $76 billion Manhattan penthouses, but even then, I can only assume you're some evil movie villain who thinks The Arts equal "weakness" or some shit.
I was a theater major in college, I love going to the theater, I live 20 minutes away from the best theater district in the world, and still have to constantly remind myself like twice a year to actually make an effort to go see shows, then immediately give up when I realize the 2 shows I want to see are sold out until 2027 (except three obstructed view seats available on Thanksgiving Day for $280) or laying out $80 to see an old movie acted out worse with songs in it now.
Y'know, NEW YAWK hangin'! Just sittin' on some stoops, holding a basketball, drinkin' some brews, watchin' the kids playing double dutch in the gushing open fire hydrant, holding a second basketball, getting winked at by the leggy neighborhood sexpot, discussin' basketballs and how cool it is to hold 'em, trading your basketball for your other friend's basketball and holding each others' basketballs for a bit.
Man. Stoops are where it's at.
Lunchtime in New York? Hell yeah, time to grab a boiled hot dog from the local hot dog boiling man in his boiley hot dog cart outside The Met. Mustard? Relish? Hell yeah man, nothin' beats a good New York Style 'dog. New York style means "boiled, with condiements on it". Definitely the most fulfilling way to spend your lunchtime in a city with 80 trillion good delivery restaurants.
"Whooaaaa, little far uptown, aintcha, SNOWFLAKE!" is a good and realistic line of dialogue from one of the Death Wish movies, probably. Also DEFINITELY in real life. Literally any time a white person goes to real-life Harlem, everyone there yells this sentence at them verbatim. Every single person yells it, too. Usually all at the same time, making a huge loud Phil Spector "Wall of Sound" type noise.
People in Harlem certainly aren't like, "thanks for coming to this restaurant and enjoying food in exchange for money, seeing as we are an operating business." It's always an instant vicious out-in-the-open racial struggle.
I can't think of the BEST moral advice I've ever been given from a cab driver, but it was either the guy who kept saying The Mob were his heroes because he believed in "eye for an eye justice," or the guy who claimed Mister Rogers once tried to solicit him for a blowjob in his cab. For sure, both of these pieces of advice have shaped me into the moral juggernaut I am today. And I can only imagine how 'taxi driver sexual harassment' has helped my female friends over the years!
On the flipside, though, cabs don't actually smell bad. Turns out those Letterman jokes from the 90s are no longer true.
Rarely, if ever, will a Google Maps walking route require you to "turn right down a super-narrow shady alleyway that's also pitch black in the middle of the day with no bystanders anywhere near it even though there's 8 million people walking around." Then the worst part, the alleyway isn't even a shortcut, it's the secret hangout of a bunch of street toughs wearing matching ripped t-shirts and killing time by rolling dice on milkcrates over and over again until unsuspecting people walk down their alley for them to hassle.
Also, if you're getting chased by people or dogs, and you turn down any New York side streets, you WILL run into a fence and have to exclaim "DAMMIT." You can still climb the fence and get away, but the dogs will most likely nip off one of your pantlegs.
Just keep all of these facts in mind before you visit the Big Apple!
Does anyone ever actually say the nickname of ANY city, besides sports announcers doing the cold open for games and the occasional old timey detective poundin' the pavement for some two-bit Gatsby with a thirst for jerkin' giggle water?
If you say "The Big Apple," everyone knows you're a tourist. TRUE New Yorkers know to call it "Ol' Big Baby Gotham".