Think the French are rude? Try New York

After compiling data all summer, I honestly have to say that I’m starting to like Parisians more than New Yorkers. This isn’t limited to a one time event or getting kicked out of Milk and Honey either – I realize that when faced with thousands of people every day everyone is going to run into a few bad apples. At this point in my travels, however, I’m starting to get the feeling that Parisians are just flat out friendlier than residents of the Big Apple.

To back up – I’m not the sort of person that makes broad generalizations about a city or culture based on a bad experience. I have tons of lovely friends in New York and am almost always thrilled to be in the city. I reap my opinion from days sown in each city, fumbling around in circles trying to order pizza or crepes, navigating the city streets in the middle of the night or underground, lost in a maze of subways.

As an example, on holiday in Paris this past month I spent three days wandering through the city with my girlfriend. Not once did someone scowl at me for butchering my French, nor did they shirk away when I asked for directions or stood on the wrong side of the escalator. To the contrary, people I met were pleasant, nice and even downright helpful.

Conversely, my time spent in New York has been marred with impatient commuters, surly public transportation employees and a general feeling of “you don’t belong here.”

What can I say? Paris has done a better job of making me feel welcome than New York has. Been across the pond this summer? What’s your story?


2007: the year rudeness came back?

As of 2006, it seemed your fellow passengers on flights were quite polite. After all, a whole 62 percent only reclined their seats halfway out of consideration for the person behind them. But maybe 2007 was a bit nastier? (for instance, we learned that Delta started playing in-flight etiquette films)

At least for me, last year wasn’t a good year. On a flight to Beijing, one old guy actually made my girlfriend cry when he admonished her for mistakenly reading a magazine in the seat-back pocket in front of us (it turned out to be his magazine). He just had to quip, “if you’ve flown more, you would know better.”

That same snideness reared its ugly head a couple weeks ago when I was in Peru. Some guy (again, old) blew a fuse when he saw the size of my backpack, which was one of those standard 60-liter backpacking bag. And guess what he said? “If you’ve flown more, you would know better.” (He said I should’ve checked in my bag because it took too much overhead bin space)

Were both cases because we were college students? Or are these two guys just really lonely and have nothing better to do than criticize everyone around them? By the way, the first guy on the flight to Beijing had to put up with my glares for the next 14 hours.