Little Mamma in the Big City

nyc3New York cab drivers should all have GPS units installed in their cars, not so much to show them where they’re going but to show the passenger where they’re going and how many circles they’re driving to get there. I also think all fares should come with a can of whiplash repellent or at the very least a disposable neck brace or collar.

And how much should you tip a cab driver? Do they get the same as a hair dresser or bank teller? And who all should get a tip? It’s been a long time since I’ve traveled anywhere tip-worthy and I’m a bit confused. You tip the guy who takes your bags and the one who hails you a cab at the front door of the hotel. You tip the crazy guy who plays the trumpet poorly on the street corner with his eyes closed so you’re left wondering if he’s blind or if he just thinks you’ll put more money in his hat if he’s not looking directly at you.

nyc2I think you tip the door-holder guy but do you tip the guy in the uniform standing next to the revolving door and smiling at you as you walk in? Do you tip his mom? I’m not sure about all of this. I think I’ll just stuff my bra full of ones and shimmy everywhere I go, letting the bills fall where they may.

Back in the day, I traveled a lot for business. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in big cities across the US but I’ve never been anywhere like New York. People seem to laugh louder here and walk harder, beating the pavement into submission with their feet. I try to walk like them but I’m not sure if I’m doing it right or just look like Laylee on the verge of a fit.

Traffic lights mean nothing to pedestrians here. To cab drivers they’re simply a justification for running people over.


I’m torn between my desire to take pictures of every brick and speck of dirt and the wish to appear like a hip city dweller despite my white sneakers and wide-eyedness. I’m beginning to think the secret to this is weaving boldly through the speeding cars with no apparent concern for health or safety. I think it will take more than 2 days in the city to cultivate this type of peer-pressure-induced kamikazality.

And the honking. There is a lot. And sirens. And crazy people. And hot dogs.

The cars outside my window sound like a river and I’m smiling because my cab driver was honked at multiple times by other cab drivers and I think this means we won.

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21 Responses to Little Mamma in the Big City

  1. Nikolaj says:

    “… and I think this means we’ve won”


  2. michal says:

    i’ve never been to the big apple either and am loving seeing it through your eyes. good luck at the conference!

  3. All Adither says:

    Hey, where are your black leather boots? 😉

  4. Mari Ickes says:

    You tip your bank teller? Do you really? I’ve never heard of this. Should I be tipping my bank teller? Or were you comparing-tip as much as a hair dresser or tip as little as a bank teller?
    I’m usually up on this…

    As far as the cabbie, tip him 15 percent or so. Of course, I don’t know if you want to take my advice–I don’t tip my bank teller…

  5. All Adither – I’m wearing them even now. They’re not my favorite for walking all over Manhattan though.

  6. mother of the wild boys says:

    Good luck in NYC, I haven’t been in over 8 years…good times. Anyway, you’ll totally rock at the BlogHer thingy, ‘cuz you’re just awesome that way. My tip for NYC: Wear the comfy shoes. 🙂

  7. daring one says:

    Mari – No I don’t actually tip bank tellers although I think my bank balance would be the happier for it.

  8. Jen says:

    I was relieved to read the earlier comment and your response to it; it has never even occurred to me to tip a bank teller! For awhile there I was afraid that all those bank tellers who smile at my face were actually cursing me behind my backs because I’d been failing to tip them.

  9. Emily says:

    Oh my word, the mental image of you shimmying and spilling dollar bills was just too much!

  10. Carrie says:

    How exciting!

    Thanks for the photos, it’s almost as good as being there.

  11. Isabel says:

    Welcome to NYC. I love it there.

    (I also loved that you mentioned your white shoes. You can always spot a tourist by their white shoes. That’s why I bought black ones!)

  12. nan says:

    Whaa! I have to get home from London via NYC, and ALMOST asked for a day in-between. Damn. Now I wish I had. Though, with an 8-year-old in tow, it might not be that fun.

  13. Marian says:

    Well, OF COURSE, you tip the guy’s mom. Tipping moms would be a great precedent to set. And where else better but in trend-setting New York?

    Yes, make it bigscreen GPS in the cabs. I am never a more paranoid wreck than when in the back of a cab in an unfamiliar city!

  14. grammyelin says:

    I just keep waiting for your guest apearance on “Cash Cab”. You would definitely win the big bucks (with which to tip everybody and their mother and their dog), because….Girl, You know stuff!

    I hope you’re having a blast!

  15. liza says:

    You are absolutely hilarious. I lived in NYC for 6 years and my husband still commutes into the city every day (we are now in the burbs). I would love to run into you wide-eyed and white sneaker clad. Don’t worry, half of the people you see walking around are tourists like you and are trying to navigate themselves and the natives are so used to tourists they are not even phased.

    I would usually tip a cab driver 15-20% of the total fare depending on how generous I felt. You could give a few bucks to the guy for getting your cab, at least a dollar per bag for carrying them in for you (or is it two dollars per bag?) and don’t give any to the dude standing at the revolving door (unless you just feel like giving money out).

    As for riding in a cab, just wear your seat belt and hold on tight. You’ll survive. It’s a crazy place, but it can be so much fun.

    “People seem to laugh louder here and walk harder, beating the pavement into submission with their feet. I try to walk like them but I’m not sure if I’m doing it right or just look like Laylee on the verge of a fit.”

    You are so stinkin funny. It is true though.

    Enjoy your trip!

  16. true, all of it, and wonderful. i LOVE NYC. Fora bout 4 days. Then I’m done.

  17. Stephanie says:

    Yeah, the tipping can get kind of annoying.

  18. Lei says:

    Jealous! Love it there!

  19. Shalee says:

    This was a fun, adventurous post, Kathryn. I’m totally imagining you as you’re doing the tourist thing around the Big Apple. Have a great time and just enjoy the newness of it, even if you look the part of the tourist. (You can just shimmy my tip for my most excellent advice over Kansas when you fly back.)

  20. Fawndear says:

    O.K. you’ve convinced me. I’ll stay home and live NYC vicariously through you. I’d be all about a deer-stuck-in-headlights anyway. I could never do it alone either – that would make me a mental mess. Hope your having a blast. Say, what is the going rate for tipping bloggers that make you laugh so hard your snort?

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