I was raised to write thank you notes, return phone calls, keep appointments and make my friends feel important. Oh and in case you are wondering, I'm not 105 years old, I'm 36 and happen to have not been raised in New York City.
I know we're all busy, but for some reason New Yorkers are busier than everyone else, and this seems to be a perfectly acceptable excuse for disrespect and lack of basic manners? I have lived here just one year and other than utter disgust at the behavior of my 'friends' I am seriously baffled as to how anyone actually has friends when they treat one another with such disregard?
Last week I invited a total of twelve people to an event and failed to get a definite answer from a single one of them. When I've extended invitations in other worlds in which I’ve lived (San Francisco, London, Geneva), I always received a timely response involving “yes please” or “no thank you.” Simple as that.
Those that eventually did bother to acknowledge the invitation, did so the day after the event, and without exception whined that their phones had “died.” I know we love to moan about our service providers, but with the current epidemic of “dying” phones, it’s amazing that any of the phone companies are still in business.
When asked if I am free, I look in my diary and provide a yes or no answer. It really is not more complicated than that. That's how I was raised...not in New York. Why is this basic step so hard for New Yorkers to fathom?
Having said all of that, even when your New York friends actually do bother to meet you, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be treated with respect.
I was attending a dinner party at a friend's home, when her husband rose from the table, grabbed his laptop and moved to the couch, whereupon he ignored his guests and worked for a solid hour. Clearly his work is so important that he doesn't have to adhere to social norms and wait until the guests have actually left. And in case you're wondering, this person was not a doctor who’d interrupted the evening to restart a heart or cure cancer.
The crazy thing, though was that no one, neither his wife nor his friends, batted an eyelid. Everyone just went on with their conversations, as though this rude behavior were the most natural thing in the world.
Later, when I asked his wife about it, she said ever so casually, “he works for a bank, so it’s OK. Everyone gets it.” Well forgive me for being the party pooper, but I really don’t “get it.” I understand that some people are extremely busy, but if you're too busy to spend time with your friends, then don't invite them to your house for dinner.
Everyone deserves a minimum of respect and politeness. What has gone wrong in New York society that we no longer have the right to expect the most basic of common manners? I have lived in several different cities, and never experienced flakiness on this pathological scale. The question is why do New Yorkers think they are exempt from common decency? And why do we let them get away with it?