fuggedabowdit (or not) / polite New Yorkers?

another stereotype bites

There are few generalizations about the ‘character’ of New York (and its denizens) that are more (… well …) general than the image of the irascible New Yorker — too busy running slow-moving out-of-town pedestrians over to offer directions, or even a smile. Or to hold a door. Or to help pick up your dropped papers. I will admit to feeling a bit of rueful recognition (through clenched teeth) when I see one of those fugly T-shirts hanging from a pole in touristy shops:

Welcome to New York … now get the [puck] out

. (What’s


favorite New Yorker rudeness story?)

nicer than the Swiss?? and the Finns!

The good folks at Reader’s Digest are having none of it, as they set out to measure how polite 36 different cities are. New York is the only US city on their list, so Minneapolis may still have something to say, but the list of 36 global cities touched every inhabited continent. Their unscientific survey measured reactions to 3 situations: whether people entering a building held the door for the person trailing them; whether they helped someone pick up papers dropped on a busy sidewalk; and whether shopkeepers said thank you to people making small purchases.

New York not only out-paced cities such as Zurich, London, Paris, Auckland and Montreal, we kicked the proverbial rear-ends of Mumbai, Moscow and Helsinki.

How Polite Are We?

is from the website of the Canadian Reader’s Digest.

I think the Canadians were surprised by the results:

They have a reputation for being big-headed, but New Yorkers showed they are big-hearted, too, by finishing first in our global courtesy ratings. They placed in the top five in all three tests and were particularly polite when it came to holding doors open, with only two people failing to do so.

and about Kids Today not being so polite…


Many older people we encountered complained that courtesy was less prevalent among the young. But we found that the under-40s were, by a small margin, the most helpful of all age groups. Toronto ranked second globally for courtesy among the young; Montreal came tenth. In fact, overall, the over-60s were the least courteous. “The younger, the more courteous, it seems,” says our researcher in Finland. “So, no more complaining about the younger generation not being up to standard!”

(hat tip to

Andrew Sullivan

of The Atlantic Monthly)

© Sandy Mattingly 2008
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