A Rude New Yorker, Like, Totally Messed With Me

Striding down a sidewalk on the Upper West Side, we are a buzz of brainstorming. The world around us blurs, our conversation becoming micro-focused. Rarely do we converse with such intent. We’re beyond the usual gossip, beyond updates of personal life. Hands fly in abandon, gestures to illustrate meaning beyond vocabulary. A dialogue between two best friends, delving deep into plans for the future. Hopes, dreams, goals followed by strategies and game plans. Charlotte and I are in the same place: both walking down Broadway, both looking for change. Not straining our eyes for dropped dimes in the cross walk, no, I’m talking life-altering change. This year the urge escalated from want to need: we now need change. We’re both a bit terrified of it, but having your best friend by your side makes you braver.

Having each entered our late twenties, it’s as good a time as any for a career re-evaluation. In true millennial form, neither I nor Charlotte know exactly what it is we want to do. We are speaking a stream of consciousness, what ever pops to mind may produce something with potential. Not thinking before I speak is highly unusual, I only feel comfortable doing such with people I trust. Unplugged and uncensored, we’re in rare form.

A nondescript middle-aged woman passes us on the street. I would not have noticed her, but as she passes, she speaks directly to us. My jaw drops. Charlotte doesn’t hear what she says, assumes it’s something nice, and flashes this stranger a well-wishing smile.
“Thank you for your unsolicited input, ma’am!” I yell at the woman’s back as she hurries down the street. Charlotte looks at me and sees my face contorted in shock.


“Wait, what did she say?” Charlotte asks, alarmed.
“She said, ‘If you stopped saying “like” so much, maybe you could get better jobs’!
“Are you serious? That’s what she said?”
“Oh yes she did.” I reply angrily.
“I smiled at her! I thought she said something nice! I can’t believe she said that! What a bitch!”


It was a true Rude New Yorker moment. A moment that made it apparent I am not a true New Yorker. A true New Yorker has no other response to such a butt into personal business than a bellowed, “FUCK YOU!” I chose simpering sarcasm. My mother taught me the cliché, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” My mother, who abhors the over-use of the word “like”. Her entire family does. I felt ashamed. If my relatives heard me at that same moment, I imagined their reactions would be similar to the woman. Though having manors, they would keep the thought to themselves. Suddenly I felt as if (not “like”!) I was letting down my entire family.


While Charlotte runs through a string of shoulda-saids (“If you stopped butting into other people’s conversations maybe you’d be less of a bitch”), I recall family dinner conversations. My mother and aunt devote entire courses to discussion of the deplorable depleting vocabulary of my generation. Their biggest pet peeve is (I’m, like, totally serious) the over-use of the word “like”. Now I have been publicly called out as part of the problem rather than the solution. How will I ever look them in the eyes again?

Charlotte carries on (“Since no one LIKES you, of course you hate the word!”), as I fall to deeper in a downward spiral of thought. Could I be a bigger disappointment? I’m flailing to find a career that holds any future, failing to find a man who deserves a place at my family dinner table. Now I can’t even speak my native language properly! I don’t even have that! I’m a disgrace to my family name!

I’m like, so Clueless!

All this from a passing comment from a busy-body stranger.
I speak as I please to my best friends, I don’t care if you LIKE it! 

Honestly, I’m glad for this encounter. This ill-mannered woman made me realize I need to be in better touch with my family, even if I am a disappointment. Add that to the list of life-altering changes. Now excuse me while I make a phone call to both my mother and aunt and dazzle them with impeccable vocabulary and laudable syntax.

What was the last “unsolicited input” you received from a stranger? Do people do this outside NYC?

About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.

7 thoughts on “A Rude New Yorker, Like, Totally Messed With Me

  1. Im going to agree with the rude woman, using like in between every word is one of the most irritating habits that young women do (ie anyone under 30 – I don’t think I have heard anyone over 30 use it FWIW nor ever heard a guy use it). We have a young 20 something working in our office as a student on scholarship and she has done since she was 17 and I have noticed it get a lot worse once she went to University.

    It *really* makes you sound juvenile and stupid, also it does you no favours by certainly indicating you are a sheep and not brave enough to stand out from the crowd and not follow that particular verbal fashion. I suspect that the older you get, the sadder it sounds as well.

    Change and growth is a good thing, identifying a need in yourself is brave and positive, clearly you can communicate in writing without unnecessary use of ‘like’ so why do you have to overuse it when you speak?

  2. Ohhh… advice bombing.

    I think this is one of those uniquely New York phenomenon.

    One minute you’re having a personal conversation with your friend walking down the street, the next you’ve been stopped dead in your tracks because the lady who’s been tailing you for the past five blocks has dropped her opinion on you and then just keeps walking.

    I’m at the point where I consider it less rude and more amusing that this is a thing that happens here… and oddly enough, I’ve gotten some decent advice that way.

  3. The big misunderstanding here I think is that rudeness isnt an abstract thing. What for one is rude isnt for the other. Aparantly New Yorkers have a somewhat different concept of rudeness (compared and opinionated viewed by other Americans) and which is in all probability the result from living in a big city like New York. So when someone with another concept of rudeness like someone from rural Ohio visits NYC a couple of days and gets some ‘rude’ experiences from his Ohio concept of ‘rudeness’ and then back home immidiately concludes ALL New Yorkers are rude then this person isnt only narrowminded but also himself rude becaue he thinks he knows what rudeness is. I find Americans very friendly (mc Donalds smile people) and politie people certainly compared to some here in Europe (Netherlands) and if you like to see some real rudeness visit Amsterdam (or some mayor big European city) and your former concept of rudeness will be totally changed;-)!

  4. I copy pasted this from some other article I wrote but I have the idea its also for you altrough I dont have read youre womanthing…. (I m not rude, I am not rude, a…;)

Comments are closed.