We decided to come to America after our stint in South America and we based ourselves in New York. We wanted to give ourselves a break from South America and see our friends that we haven’t seen in a while since they relocated to New York. Everyone I meet loves New York and that is the best place in the United States. I am still torn as to whether it lives up to this. We have been residing on Manhattan Island in both East Village and Midtown and my instant impression is that this city is dirty, loud and has a funny smell. There are sirens every 30 seconds (it seems) and constant horn beeping. I feel frustrated just being in the city. I am an impatient person but this city has it over me. There are a few things that really annoy me about New York!
- People having loud, usually inappropriate conversations, on their hands free
This one I just am yet to really understand. I/we spent most of our time walking around the city and constantly run into people walking around on their hands free having personal conversations. A few of the conversations I have heard are around a guy talking about how his girlfriend wants him to get tested and he ain’t got nothing and his other explicit sexual history; a women talking about her friend strangling something (not sure if this is a sexual fetish or an act of crime; people talking about their cheating partner/s; and just generally loud conversations that really could be toned down dramatically.
- People walking around with boom boxes or small stereos playing loud music
Mainly the people walking around with these are ‘homies’ for likes of a better term. Without being rude they look like they live on the streets and haven’t had a shower in days. The music is usually rap/hip-hop/RnB genre and it is playing so incredibly loud, why can’t you wear HEADPHONES. Actually that wouldn’t help because majority of those that wear headphones here will attempt to sign/rap and that is usually just as bad.
- Cars piling up and blocking incoming traffic at lights
This one is just no common sense. You get a green light and the light in front of your green light up ahead is red, there is already too many cars and if you go you will be placing your car in line of oncoming traffic who will get a green light soon. So not only do you still do it so does everyone else. Then the light goes red, the next people get the green light and cannot go anywhere. So the horns just sound non-stop. They have actually resorted to putting police on corners to help control this, it doesn’t really work that well. They clearly need to fix the automatic traffic light timers.
- Tipping and not including tax in the price
I know Americas usually dislike non-tipping countries because we come here and don’t tip because we don’t really do it back home unless we really want to. I am still of the view that you should pay your staff appropriately so that society doesn’t have to do it for you. Majority of those that live in New York are probably not well off and adding at least 18% to service is causing them to be even less well off. Let people tip if they want to tip. No offense, but your service isn’t that great and most of the time I hate having to pay for your shitty service or attitude. Then we have the tax situation. I understand we all pay taxes, but why cannot you just include the tax amount in the cost already. Why do I pick up a pair of jeans and the tag says $25 and I am like awesome and then you add tax at the register. Why do I see yogurt on the shelf ‘3 for $5’ but then you add tax at the register. WHY DON’T YOU JUST INCLUDE THE TAX IN THE ADVERTISED COST OF THE ITEM!
- Bank Fees
We might have to open a bank account here if we are lucky enough to be given the opportunity to work in New York. We went around to four different banks and they all have the same setup. Every bank has a account keeping fee for their standard accounts, usually $12. You can avoid this fee if you have a daily average balance of around $1500. If your balance drops even by 1 cent causing your daily average balance to fall at $1499 then you will be hit with that fee. Not only the weird daily balance thing exists you also get charged twice to use an ATM that doesn’t belong to your bank. So if you bank with Bank of America and use a Chase ATM, Bank of America will hit you will a fee of no more than $5 and then the other bank will also charge you no more than $5. You risk losing up to $10 every time you need to use another banks ATM. I have never missed my Australian Bank so much in my life!
- Mobile phone plan costs and shitty phone/data reception and who uses 2G anymore?
We got prepaid phone here so that we could use them to list our numbers in a job hunt and call each other and our friends if needed. Prepaid is expensive, actually I think most mobile phone plan costs in America are expensive. We originally got a $30 (plus tax) T-Mobile plan which includes unlimited text, 5Gb of Data (1GB at the fastest (maybe 4G/3G) if you can call it that and the rest at 2G (what is this? like I know what it is but why?) and 100 minutes. I worked for Telstra once upon a time and not in my lifetime do I ever remember having to pay to receive a call, unless it was a reverse charge. Basically these minutes kept running out and I wasn’t making barely any calls. So I Googled it and found out that minutes are used when you make or receive a call. 100 minutes is nothing when people are calling you to chat about your resume for 20 minutes or more. I also read, although cannot be sure, that T-Mobile gives service priority to post-paid customers, so if you are pre-paid and there are a bunch of T-Mobile users around you trying to use their post-paid service then your service is limited. Also, the data cuts out all the time, it is slow, it cannot be used when walking around the city sometimes and it has never worked on the subway. I used to commute on the train for work in Australia and my service worked. I recently changed my service to AT&T and the pre-paid is now $60 or $55 (plus tax) with autofill so that I can get unlimited minutes. I lose some data and although AT&T is considered to have better coverage I still cannot use my phone on the subway. Seriously America, what century are we living in. We are a technology century and everyone is connected just not very well. Invest some money in the telecommunication infrastructure; your people will thank you as long as you don’t jump up the prices.
- Cafes that don’t do good food and coffee
One big thing I miss in Australia in going to have breakfast/lunch in a sit down café and having a coffee. What we have found here is that it is one or the other unless you go to an Australian owed café. It is almost impossible to get good food and coffee in one place, again unless you go to an Australian owed café. WHY?! They have take-away places everywhere but nothing good. I literally thought America would have this in the bag, how we were wrong. Also, the coffee here is not as good as back home. You can definitely find good coffee and we have found a few, but for every good coffee you will probably have 5 average/bad ones. I hear most take up drinking tea. Luckily we have a few places that have satisfied our taste buds. We definitely do not drink as much coffee as we did back home.
There are many other things we disliked like the rubbish piles on the streets for clean up day, when someone use the term ‘excuse me’ rudely just because you happen to be where they need to be and they cannot be polite about it, the homeless population makes me sad except for the one that threatened us (not sure he was homeless or just a traveller) plus many more. There are also good things, like the shopping options, the subway is pretty reliable, the broadway shows, tours etc.,.
Overall, we preferred Brooklyn to Manhattan Island and most of the annoyances come from Manhattan not the other boroughs of NY. We are also convinced that maybe they live in a bubble and just don’t know how some of these things could be much, much better.
God Bless America, right?