The Market

Cultural taboos by city: NYC vs San Francisco, Seattle & L.A.

Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral
By Teri Karush Rogers  |
April 18, 2011 - 12:40PM

We know you would never actually move away from NYC. But we understand the urge to fantasize once in awhile, and comparison shopping by cultural faux-pas is an interesting way to do it. Helpfully, parallel threads on Q&A site are busy curating must-not-do's in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and a few other urban destinations. 

First things first

As noted here recently, a real New Yorker would never even think of picking someone up at the airport or worry about jaywalking in front of a cop (15 Ways to Tell a New Yorker from a Poser). And according to the commenters on Quora, a real New Yorker would also never:

  1. Get in someone's way.
  2. Wear any article of clothing that mentions New York in any capacity, with the exception of gear supporting a sports team.
  3. Eat in Times Square.
  4. Make eye contact in public, especially with a celebrity.
  5. Lean against a subway pole.
  6. Not hold on to anything in a subway car for fear of germs and then inevitably fall over those standing next to you when the train starts.
  7. Refer to the city as the Big Apple or subway lines by color.
  8. Refer to Sixth Avenue as Avenue of the Americas.
  9. Ask the hot dog vendor to put the hot dog in a bag.
  10. Swipe a subway card multiple times, hoping it will work, during rush hour. More money will not magically appear nor will the magnetic strip return.


What not to do in San Francisco

A real San Franciscan would never:

  1. Smoke ("Socially, you might be better off with leprosy.")
  2. Ask "Is that a boy or a girl?" about people you see.
  3. Complain about fog or state taxes ("They are progressive tax rates, so when they start to bite, you are making pretty good money.")
  4. Ask what a person does for a living immediately after meeting.
  5. Think or say that the Mission district is scary.
  6. Praise San Francisco as a fallback city. ("I can't tell you how many New Yorkers slip up on this one and say: 'I totally LOVE San Francisco -- if I didn't live in Williamsburg, I'd live here!' THIS ISN'T TUFTS, F*CKFACE.")
  7. Assume anyone's ever heard of your fancy East Coast college or prep school.
  8. Take three puffs. ("Respect the rotation.")



Here's what doesn't go down in the birthplace of grunge:

  1. Turning down an offer to visit a coffee shop because you don't like coffee.
  2. Jaywalking.
  3. Honking at a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
  4. Using an umbrella, unless it's really pouring
  5. Dressing up, except for outdoor activities ("It would be poor form to show up for a hike wearing anything made of cotton or for a bike ride wearing anything not form-fitting.")
  6. Giving somebody a hard time for not having career ambitions, or for having unrealistic career ambitions.
  7. Using a person's clothing as a basis for determining employment status. The 30-year-old dressed like a college freshman is probably a programmer for Microsoft making $100k/year.
  8. Complaining about the rain under any circumstances. Complaining about the city is discouraged unless the subject is tourists or transplants.
  9. Saying that going hiking in the rain is undesirable (or you will have little to no social life).
  10. Assuming that all Asians you meet are working at technology companies.


Los Angeles? Well...

As for what they don't do in L.A.?  Not much apparently, we infer from the skimpy Quora pickings, which so far offer up few gaffes beyond asking, "Hey, are those real?" 

(; previously)

Related posts:

16 things I have learned since moving to Manhattan

7 things you need for your apartment that do not exist (yet)

15 ways to tell a real New Yorker from a poser

I am a New Yorker and I want my $19,000 back

Top 18 contractor excuses

9 things not to do to (or in) your apartment this spring


Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral

Teri Karush Rogers

Founder & Publisher

Founder and publisher Teri Karush Rogers launched Brick Underground in 2009. As a freelance journalist, she had previously covered New York City real estate for The New York Times. Teri has been featured as an expert on New York City residential real estate by The New York Times, New York Daily News, amNew York, NBC Nightly News, The Real Deal, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and NY1 News, among others. Teri earned a BA in journalism and a law degree from New York University.

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