You have them everywhere, not only in New York. I just happen to notice a heightened presence of them since I came here, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much. I have walked around with my eyes wide open ever since I set foot into this city and maybe my perception of things has changed to a more sensitive style. Either way, I haven’t stopped noticing this crowd of people which can be grouped into their very own category. I call them “people who are there to make you feel bad”: Certain individuals who want you to feel insecure and miserable about yourself because they themselves are not satisfied with their own life, body, current situation. It is incredible what an almost complete stranger will say to you, be it either on the train, in the streets, or at work. There is the lady that bumps into you and demands you to move aside instead of offering an excuse. There is the guy who yells something nasty at you while he is riding by on his bike instead of just minding his own business. There is the colleague who summons you to a tedious job instead of just doing it herself.
“Okay,” you might think, “What do I care about someone I don’t know? I can just brush it off or reply something back if someone gets fresh at me in public!” You are indeed very right. The biggest danger comes from people who are close to you, persons you have let into your life, folks who have earned your respect and have been trustworthy in your eyes – at least to a certain degree. It can be a co-worker you are friendly with, your roommate, your partner, your friend, or your family.
You cannot imagine some situations I have observed while walking through Manhattan. It is quite unbelievable how people behave in public in a big city like this. I remember one incident very well as if it were yesterday: A couple came out of a store, fighting already. At first I didn’t want to intervene and just stood on the side, some distance away. As the situation developed it appeared that the man was not treating his girlfriend too well, insulting her in a bad tone. She eventually started crying and didn’t want to get into a cab with him. The man grabbed the shopping bags from her (he probably thought he had the right to do this since he paid for the clothes) and wanted to force her to get into the car. Eventually he noticed that a few people had stopped and were observing the scene. Meanwhile the woman was so upset and in tears, she wouldn’t go anywhere. He shouted a last “Everyone is looking at you already!” at her, and then made his way home, turning around a couple of times while he got into the cab to see if she would follow him. This was one of those situations in which I couldn’t believe how badly some women let themselves being treated by their partners. Not enough that he had humiliated her in front of complete strangers, but he also wanted to make it look like it was her fault! I have seen other scenes, though, in which women just didn’t speak up or let themselves be (verbally) abused by someone close to them. And I wouldn’t be too surprised if this man were to pull off something even meaner towards his girlfriend as soon as they entered their house.
Well, this might be an extreme situation, others are more subtle. In general, people seem more self-centered and full of themselves than elsewhere. Those traits by themselves are not bad, of course, but they don’t help in terms of building an equal friendship in which sharing worries and listening to friends’ problems are the standard. Some persons get real cranky as soon as the topic shifts away from them and a different problem/person/real worry is discussed. It seems like they are suffering from attention-deprivation as soon as the spotlight switches to someone else. This, of course, leads to envy and jealousy, both characteristics which you can feel in the air. It is really a pity that so many intelligent people have themselves blinded by their one-sidedness and their little worries of life instead of just getting the gist of it all: To enjoy as much time as possible, to be happy you are a healthy individual, and to care for others. But no, not only do they make their own lives miserable by being egocentric, but they also try to get only the best out of you and to steal your precious time with insignificant little things so unimportant to anyone but themselves.
I agree with some peoples’ opinion that New York is one big theatre: People are always trying to pull off a show, in which they are the sole main character. The crazier you are over here and the more eccentric you can make your story, the better. This is, of course, very interesting in the beginning, but once you come to understand that almost everyone has originated from a “very special background” and views themselves as something so unique it is “too good to be true”, you start becoming tired and annoyed and yearn for someone who is just as normal as you are, without the charade! Someone who is unashamed of not wanting to make the big bucks, someone who is unaware that their middle-income family does not fit the 21st century fashion, someone who cares about others to about the same degree they would about themselves.