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Let me tell you—these are the 5 things New Yorkers should actually give up for Lent

And forever, to be honest.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan

"Let Me Tell You" is a series of columns from our expert editors about NYC living, including the best things to do, where to eat and drink, and what to see at the theater. They publish each Tuesday so you’re hearing from us each week. Last time, Things to Do Editor Rossilynne Skena Culgan shared why the Lunar Eclipse will be the coolest event of the year.

If you didn’t notice people with ashes on their foreheads last week, Lent is now underway. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s a 40-day period that runs from Ash Wednesday to Easter. During this Christian religious observance, followers of the faith engage in a time of prayer, fasting, and charity. They also often give something up as a sort of sacrifice to strengthen their bond with God and re-evaluate their priorities. 

This period of self-discipline was an Extremely Big Deal where I grew up, with people giving up candy, soda, sugar, pizza, you name it. So in the spirit of the season, I’d like to suggest five things New Yorkers of any/all religious affiliations ought to give up for Lent, items that truly will bring one closer to Godliness than abstaining from Oreos or Milanos for a few weeks. 

Food delivery courier on a motorcycle rides under the snow with yellow backpack
Photograph: By Delphix / Shutterstock

1. DoorDashing in a storm

I get it, maybe you forgot to stock up on bread, toilet paper, and kale before the latest blizzard or rainstorm. But that is no excuse to force an underpaid worker on a bicycle to brave the pelting precipitation, the slippery streets, and the low visibility to bring you a burger. Instead, dig into the depths of your pantry or freezer and heat up that package of ramen you forgot about or give some life to those freezer-burned mozzarella sticks. If you absolutely must get takeout, then bundle up, go outside, and pick it up yourself. If you're not willing to go outside, then why would you force someone else to do so?

And when you do use DoorDash (or UberEats or Postmates or whatever) once the storm ends, be sure to tip well.

New York City People Commute to Work Subway Sign Rush Hour
Photograph: By Kits Pix / Shutterstock

2. Pushing into the subway car before letting people get off

This extremely basic rule of New York City etiquette seems to have been forgotten recently. When you're waiting for a train, let passengers get off of the train before you get on. This isn't a new problem.

In fact, back in 1997, the MTA launched a campaign called “Step Aside and Speed Your Ride” to address this very issue. According to a New York Times article from '97, "They are also optimistic that the experiment will work in the new atmosphere: with vandalism and serious crimes down and the economy looking up, the time seems ripe for civility to spread." Oh, you poor little MTA sweetpeas, if only you could see the incivility barreling ahead in the year 2016. Sigh.

We can solve this problem, however. Just move out of the way to let people off the train; I recommend even offering a steely gaze of moral superiority while you do it. And if you're trying to get off the train while people are pushing on, I highly recommend yelling at them to get out of the way. It's healing and actually civil.

New York firefighter pumper truck responding to a emergency call in Manhattan downtown
Photograph: By Firefighter Montreal / Shutterstock

3. Blocking ambulances and fire trucks while driving or walking

If you ever need an ambulance or a fire truck, I hope it gets to you quickly and safely so the emergency responders can help you. I hope pedestrians don't walk out in front of a firetruck with its siren blaring. I hope drivers don't sit immobile, as if unsure how to turn their wheel to get the hell out of the way. 

So join me in helping first responders to their jobs by getting out of their way. 

A pile of garbage on the street, including a table and chairs.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan / Time Out | That tulip table just needed a little TLC, but it was sent to the curb.

4. Throwing away perfectly good items

If there's anything good about NYC's sky-high piles of trash on the street, it's that they offer public and unimpeachable evidence of exactly how wasteful Americans are. 

Here are a few things I've spotted in the trash heaps recently, all of which appeared to be in useable condition: A white leather desk chair, a Hot Wheels track, a coffee table, a barely touched cat scratcher, several paintings, art books, a mirror, crutches, a tulip table, a plant stand, and wooden dining chairs. 

Stooping certainly helps, as do "curb alerts" in local Buy Nothing groups, but much of this waste is undoubtedly making it into our landfills and our oceans. Before you throw that perfectly good item in the trash, take a minute to give it away and help someone else. Here's a full rundown of exactly how to do that.

Empty view of Crobsy Street covered with trash in the NoHo neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City NYC
Photograph: By Ryan DeBerardinis / Shutterstock

5. Littering

Speaking of junk ending up in our oceans, if you're still littering in the year 2024, like, what are you even thinking?

This one is pretty self-explanatory: From cigarette butts to snack wrappers, hold onto your trash until you find the proper disposal receptacle. Cleanliness, as they say, is next to godliness.

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