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Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Sporadic

31 New York lessons we learned the hard way

By
Will Gleason
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By Time Out contributors, edited by Will Pulos 

Getting used to living in New York has always been a bit of a baptism by fire. Whether you’re a recent transplant who just moved to a third-story walk-up in Bed-Stuy or an NYC native suddenly finding yourself in some brand-new anxiety-provoking situation, you can learn something new every-day here. Usually, involving things you should never, ever do again.

1. Taking the local is never faster than just waiting for the express, even though the local is sitting right there with its doors all open and welcoming and stuff. It's a trap!

2. Do not attempt to walk from the Grand Concourse to Arthur Avenue half an hour before sunset. 

3. If someone undercharges you while there’s a big line behind you, pointing it out is never the “right thing to do.” Take the money and run!

4. Don’t give your debit card to a bar, especially a hotel bar. They can put a hold of $500 or more on your card to be sure you’ve got enough credit to cover bottle service, even if you’re just buying two beers, and you might not get that money back for a week.

5. Be sure to report it if your Zipcar is “soiled.” Otherwise the next person might, and you’ll be on the hook for the cleaning fee.

6. Make sure your Citi Bike is docked properly or you’re going to keep paying for it until someone else uses it and puts it back correctly.

7. If there are a lot of people waiting for drinks at Starbucks and you’re in a hurry, walk away. Even if you’re just getting a regular coffee, your cup could end up in line behind a bunch of extra-foamy chocolate soy Frappuccinos and heated cheese Danishes. 

8. Never reach out to pet someone’s dog unless you're clearly invited to do so. 

9. No matter how desperate you are to see Hello, Dolly!, resist the temptation to hit TKTS during your lunch hour. You will be waiting for longer than an hour.

10. Never wear white. Or sit anywhere if you're wearing white. Or come anywhere near anyone or anything in the city if you're wearing white. Save it for The Hamptons.

11. If the current tenants are home when you tour an apartment, sneakily ask them why they’re leaving and what’s up with the landlord. They have the info you need. 

12. If you are in a hurry you will absolutely get stuck in traffic if you take a cab. Better to take the subway instead.

13. If the sushi is always half-off, then that’s just the price of the sushi, you know?

14. Don't become friends with your neighbors. They will want to hang out all the time, and you can't lie about your whereabouts. 

15. Don't wear those fabulous yet-to-be-broken-in new heels on a long day. YOU. WILL. DIE. 

16. Those black cars at the airport are not the same as cabs, and they will not charge you a fair rate. The driver may also be running an illegal drug operation out of his trunk.

17. Rummaging for your Kindle in your bag while someone is begging on the subway will result in that person hovering over you until you produce something of worth.

18. If you are paying your rent in cash per your landlord’s insistent request, you are probably living in an illegal apartment. 

19. If Time Warner won’t service your apartment because they cannot locate your address on their grid, you are also probably living in an illegal apartment.

20. Dressing for winter is an art form that requires you to cope with temperatures ranging from 110 degrees on the subway to negative 10 outside. 

21. Fourth floor walk-ups actually are a big deal. They don’t seem like it when you first find the place, but give it a couple weeks and you’ll be ready to scream every time you come home with groceries 

22. That invitingly empty subway car. You know what we mean.

23. Apparently it’s illegal to take up too much space, even on an empty train. So when you’re coming home wasted at 4am on a Saturday and feel like putting your feet up, take a cab.

24. The taxi line at JFK airport does not move. Ever.

25. You have to watch where you walk while wearing open toe sandals in the city (Hello, warm summer puddle!)

26. You will get utterly lost in Central Park unless you understand the archaic lamppost system, or have a smartphone.

27. All of those withdrawal fees from random bodega ATMs add up a lot faster than you think.

28. That tiny corner strip of sidewalk outside St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery is actually considered a “park” and closes at midnight. If you’re on the wrong side of the sidewalk you can get a ticket.

29. There’s nowhere to buy food or drinks at Fort Tilden. Water, water everywhere...

30. Never leave your MetroCard at home. Even if you’re just going around the corner. You may decide to go somewhere else and you’ll be stuck buying a $3 single ride. 

31. Carry cash.

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