Burb Dwellers vs. City Slickers

16 Feb

A few weeks ago I received the greatest compliment of my life.  I was wearing a LBD (‘little black dress’ for those of you that don’t do Cosmo-speak) and a girl said “You are so tiny – are you wearing Spanx?”  I will never forget those words.  I have held on to them and repeat them to myself daily.  Was I in fact wearing Spanx??  Irrelevant.  Should I do the college girl thing and write those words on my mirror next to my favorite Bible scriptures?  Considered it (and no… I’m 25).

Men: my apologies for making you endure the above paragraph.  Moving on.

I received a compliment this week that might top the Spanx one (if you can believe it) …  I was going on one of my rants and when I finally stopped to take a breath; I sat in silence for two seconds (embarrassed) and prepped myself to hear the… “so anyways…” response that is typically received after my rants.  I was completely and utterly shocked as my friend ended the 2.3 seconds of silence and said: “Will you please blog about this?” WAHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! So if you’re sick of me blogging, my apologies but this one is not my fault 🙂

As for my rant….

Let it be known that I know better than to compare Boston and NYC, but something they have in common is that they both get a bad rap for people being rude.  This absolutely drives me nuts.  People in these cities are incredibly nice, genuine people… so where does this bad rap come from?  I’ll tell you… it comes from the ‘Burb Dwellers’ (BD) that visit our cities for a day or two, get yelled at a couple of times by the ‘City Slickers’ (CS) and then go back and tell their family and friends how rude the people are.  People that live here are not rude… we’re only rude to tourists that invade takeover come into our city with no consideration of us and I would even go so far as to suggest that people from The Burbs are in fact much more rude than people in our cities.  Walk with me.

For those of you in The Burbs, or even other cities for that matter: what do you do when the car ahead of you is driving 10 mph under the speed limit?  You get frustrated and you go around them, right?  Perhaps you speed past and perhaps you look at the driver to make sure they know they’re being an idiot…. oh good gracious, they’re texting.  And eating.  And buttoning their shirt.  And changing the radio station.  And leaning over to get something out of their purse…. “what a moron!!” you say as you drive by.  CS’s generally walk everywhere and are not driving cars with windows that shield others from the comment(s) they say as they pass.  So if a BD is doing something that’s disrupting the flow of traffic on the city sidewalks it’s likely that they’re going to hear about it.

Which leads me to: What causes the CS to be rude to a BD?  I’d say the answer lies in defining ‘rude’

We’ll start with the pace of the city is inherently faster.   Think about it – when there are more people in a smaller space, things are expected to move a little quicker to maintain an agreeable pace.  To my BD friends – remember of the episode of Seinfeld with the Soup Nazi?  If someone didn’t know what they want to order, he would yell “NO SOUP FOR YOU! NEXT!”  Rude, right?  But then think about having to stand in line for 45 minutes of your lunch hour to order soup.  Believe it or not, small talk in this situation is down right rude and if you’re going to stand there twirling your hair, smiling, asking everyone about their day and expect the whole world to be thankful that you graced them with your presence… then NO SOUP FOR YOU! NEXT!  The “Soup Nazi” (or CS, if you will) is not intending to be rude; he is extending a courtesy to everyone that is having to share the same time/space. 

Space.  For the CS who spends all their time in the city, you’ll notice that they value their personal space a lot because they rarely get it.  Let’s be real – there are a number of other ways I would rather spend my evening commute than being crammed in a subway car with my face smashed in the armpit of a half clothed member of Hare Krishna.  Since a CS is faced (or in my case… armpit in the faced) with people constantly infringing on their physical personal space, a CS places an even higher value on their implied personal space. 

Implied personal space.  To my BDs out there: I am referring to eye contact and small talk.  A CS will likely avoid eye contact with others because either a) that eye was just jammed in an armpit or b) it’s their way of coping with not having physical space.  This does not make a CS rude.  If a CS were to engage with every person they encountered in a day, well… it’s just too much!  The attempted friendliness from a BD infringes on the physical space that the CS never gets AND the implied personal space the CS desires.  Rude in this case is denying the CS both of those things.  There is a social awareness that needs to be understood before attempting to overthrow the accepted rules of personal space.

Social awareness.  The thing that tends to get to me the most and happens to also be a great example of the overarching difference between a CS and a BD is escalators… proper form: stand on the right, walk on the left.  The CS is aware of other peoples’ existence and will likely abide by escalator etiquitte.  The BD on the other hand lives in their own world where everything revolves around them and 9 times out of 10 will either stand on the left and/or try and walk on the right.  The CS in me has had to hold my tongue on escalators in shopping malls and airports when being submerged into BD territory – their turf… not mine.

Turf.  If you’re stepping onto someone else’s turf, your rules don’t apply… *eye roll* tourists.  I remember when I first moved here I stepped on a subway car immediately as the doors open.  A man walking off the subway (rather loudly and in my general direction) said, “YOU HAVE TO LET PEOPLE OFF BEFORE YOU GO GETTIN ON!  WHO YOU THINK YOU ARE?”  He was absolutely right, and ya know what…??  I have yet to make that mistake again because it’s a courtesy CS’s extend to each other to maintain the movement of the city.

So that’s my rant.  I’ve love that I’ve become part of this culture.  I love genuine and very intentional conversations.  I love understanding the rules of the city so that I can lovingly break them and develop relationships with people I don’t know or may never see again.  I hope that if I ever become a BD, that I will maintain my CS awareness by being conscience and aware of the people around me.  And more than anything I look forward to the day that I am taller than 5’5″ (aka… general armpit height) and don’t have to spend my commute under the arm of every person that forgets to wear deoderant.

::End Rant::


11 Responses to “Burb Dwellers vs. City Slickers”

  1. mooselicker February 16, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

    Throw Philadelphia into that mix of “rude” cities. If people from the New York and Boston suburbs think their local cities are rude I can’t imagine what people from Wisconsin would think.

    I think, like you mentioned, personal space is a big thing to do with it. If my neighbors lived 2 miles away I would be excited to see them. That’s not how things are. I can hear my neighbors sneeze we’re so on top of each other.

    • sai04a February 16, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

      truth on the sneezing. i hear my upstairs neighbors pee every morning… less than thrilled about that

  2. Isaac February 16, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    I see your points, but I argue that it doesn’t excuse CS from being rude… I may be a CS, but I grew up in TX and ya don’t easily forget manners.

    • sai04a February 16, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

      i was going to write about this, but feared going over my word count. i lived in texas for four years so i get it…. but commute on the green line thru 4 sox seasons then we’ll talk.

      • Isaac February 17, 2012 at 8:25 am #

        I lived in Brookline one summer and would commute to Quincy. So I understand how it is. I still say it doesn’t excuse people from being rude… But you make good points about why CS may appear to be rude. And the whole escalator thing grates my nerves.

  3. Cassie Ladd February 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    As always, I must supply the opposite perspective. Dear CS (I include myself in that group), you venture out in to the BD area or small town, try to remember that your pace is not the norm. Go slowly, smile back, say hello and remember that the vast majority of the world’s population are not CS.

    – S – I know the feeling, one day I truly hope someone will as me to blog one of my rants. Fingers crossed!

    • sai04a February 17, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

      so true miss cassie – all about who’s turf you’re on!! not sure if i will ever feel comfortable saying hello to strangers in passing though… i always get so confused when people do that to me! (do i know them? have we met? are they thinking i’m someone else? they’re probably thinking i’m someone else. is he hitting on me? is SHE hitting on me? there’s probably something on my face.(somehow my thoughts generally lead me to think that i have something on my face))

      what are your rants?? i’d love to hear them!!! there’s ‘travel tuesdays’ or ‘throwback thursdays’ …. we should designate wednesdays for ranting! Rant-Wednesdays. BAM! rant away

  4. Jamie February 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    I just found your blog a few days ago and have spent a ridiculous amount of time reading it..and cracking up. Rarely does a blog make me actually laugh out loud, so thanks! 🙂 I’m also in the process of trying to move to Boston right now, so I love reading about all of your Boston things to do, etc. ! YAY 🙂

  5. El Guapo March 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    There is nothing here to disagree with.
    But I would add distant tourists (other cities/countries) to the BD group.

    • sai04a March 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

      omg YES.

      while i understand it’s extremely important to pose as sexy as possible next to some monument no one’s ever heard of… i’m trying to get to work here.

      there’s a tour stop right in front of my office and i’m faced with this every morning 🙂


  1. A Thank You to the Patriots | highfiverson - April 16, 2013

    […] Burb Dwellers vs. City Slickers – My soap box about people thinking Boston is a rude city […]

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