New etiquette rules for New Yorkers have gotten completely out of hand

New York Magazine has published an exhaustive new set of “rules” that touch on everything from tipping bodegas to small talk with celebrities to recovering from a gender mismatch on a new acquaintance.

I found myself nodding along with some of the comments: “Don’t get caught in a phone call at dinner,” tip waiters and bartenders well, and, most obviously, wear shoes to the office.

It’s a shame, then, that many of the whopping 140 etiquette lessons are so deeply infantilizing.

According to the magazine, there’s one thing that thick-skinned, sharp-edged, ballbusting New Yorkers should be on their toes: Avoid offending sensitive, self-absorbed people who stalk this concrete jungle in search of micro-aggression.

If their list is any indication, we’re trying to make it in Oberlin, not the town Sinatra was singing about. Among the highlights:

NY Magazine is considering tipping at bodegas.
NY Magazine is considering tipping at bodegas.
Getty Images
  • “Don’t address two or more women as ladies.” From men, it’s “oddly creepy”; by women, it is “an unnecessary attempt to feign some kind of unity.” I agree. Call us women.
  • “Avoid vague and cliche euphemisms for your privilege.” This one made me wonder if I actually understood the English language.
  • “Accents aren’t ‘cute’. It’s condescending to describe her that way.” Alright, I’ll use adorable next time.
  • “Don’t be loudly naive about dating apps when you’re in a relationship.” Apparently, curiosity is offensive and should only be expressed at low volumes.
  • “White people should always say 50 cents clearly. He’s not Fiddy to you.” Invariant features dictate acceptable usage. Unless the subject is about gendering someone wrong (there are two rules on that subject), in which case proper use of language will be dictated by self-identity. got it
  • “Don’t tell people they look like other people…because it’s potentially offensive.” If I’m not comparing you to Sloth from The Goonies, take it as a compliment.

Amidst this intersectional jumble of new mores are several edicts on the subject of tipping. And they have absolutely no contact with real New Yorkers who are struggling to pay for rising rents and inflated food bills.

New York Magazine introduces new tipping rules, including generous tips at bodegas and cafes.
New York Magazine introduces new tipping rules, including generous tips at bodegas and cafes.
Getty Images

“Tip in coffee shops, coffee carts, cafes and bodegas at least 20%,” we are told.

That means the next time I spend $6 on a muffin or $20 on a coffee, eggs and milk, I have to give the clerk 20% for touching a button on the register. I don’t even get a bag to carry my groceries with.

As a hugely helpful addendum, they added that “an item that requires no preparation,” such as stale, plastic-wrapped fig Newtons, does not require a tip. Although they call it “stingy” not to do so.

According to NY Mag, white people can't call 50 Cent, Fiddy.
According to NY Mag, white people should pronounce 50 cents clearly.

The only advice I could give the man in my corner bodega is to tell him to dust the chip shop. She hasn’t seen a cloth since the Koch administration.

And yet we patronize these imperfect places because they’re part of the city’s DNA. An expectation of tips would make shopping there too expensive and perhaps make it more advantageous to order from Amazon – a practice I have happily avoided.

This list should have been boiled down to a few useful ideas: If someone is wearing a mask, don’t ask why, because who the hell cares. Help women and old people carry their prams and carts up the subway steps. go fast Be nice to your taxi driver. Don’t eat pizza with a knife and fork.

And lighten the fk. New etiquette rules for New Yorkers have gotten completely out of hand

Emma Bowman

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