About once a week some one will say to me:
Oh you’re from San Francisco? What’s the difference between the East Coast and West Coast?
Presently my answer is to yell “I don’t want to talk about it!” wrap my down parka tighter around myself, pulling my scarf up to my eyes. A gesture to illustrate the most obvious answer (WINTER) and deter the speaker from continuing such banal small talk.
That was a bit harsh. I imagine I wouldn’t dislike this question so much if I had a good answer for it. Any answer I think of is vague, which isn’t surprising because so is the initial question. Let’s be honest, when a New Yorker says “East Coast” he means “New York City”. To give a logical answer requires detail, out of the range of small talk. Maybe if I just outline it here, I’ll have the perfect answer: “You can read all about it on my blog!” (Confession: I have actually used this phrase in real life. The reaction is always “…” which forces me to then recount the story written here in a much less witty and insightful manner. Sigh.)
So the most obvious difference I notice in my daily routine? A trivial change in vernacular. West coasters wait “in” line. They only go “online” to use the internet. East coasters (and by that I mean New Yorkers) spend a lot more time “on” lines than West coasters do “in” lines- any relation to the lingo? Maybe…
New Yorkers are obsessed with time. We’re always too busy. There are never enough hours in a day. Despite our many 24/7 locations, the subway that never stops running, and bars that never close before 4AM. Hold up a New Yorker- walk too slow, chat with a cashier, stand on the wrong side of an escalator, delay a subway- and they will, at the very least, give you a dirty look. More often than not they’ll say something dirty to your face. Myself included (I favor loud sighs and muttering to myself, but admittedly I have lapsed into crazy ranting after waiting 20 + minutes for a subway.) Similarly, being late for an appointment in NY is likely a deal breaker. My habitual 10 minutes tardiness? Unacceptable.
In San Francisco no one thinks twice if you’re 5 minutes late. You can literally, because the temperate climate always for year-round blooms, take time to smell the roses. San Franciscans value time as much as New Yorkers, but they aren’t obsessed with it. Each city has a tangible energy that is hard to describe. Going home for Christmas from NY, SF felt relaxed, calm, carefree. Lazy even. Perfect for a vacation.
At this point in my life, I think I prefer hustle and bustle and constant stimulation.
In (East coast) college we would have “Who Is Busier” contests all the time. Student 1: “Omg I have two 15 page papers, one 5 pager, 1 lab and 3 tests all due on Friday!” Student 2: “Well I have three 16 page papers, two 4 pagers, 3 tests, and 5 scenes all due on Friday” Student 1 & 2: “OMG I’m sooo stressed out!” I hated these contests. I thought they’d stop with college. Wishful thinking. I still have friends give me run downs of their lives where the subtext just reeks of “I am sooo much busier than you! My time is so much more valuable so you’re even lucky I’m talking to you right now!” Ok really? We’re ALL busy so I don’t need to hear it. Similar to when someone you’re dating feeds you “I’m really busy these days.” line. As ego bruising as it would be, I truly would prefer “I’m not really interested.” This is a little pet peeve of mine. I’m beginning to fear this may just be human nature an I shant escape it with maturity.
Another huge difference between New York and San Francisco? Minimum wage. San Francisco’s is a respectable $9.79. One might almost-sorta-not-really be able to live on that. New York’s is $7.25. Insane considering how inflated everything is here. As they say, time is money- it only makes sense New Yorkers treat it like a precious commodity.