New Yorkers are polite, courteous, and helpful. They represent their city well. They are not indifferent.
Today I arrived in the city to attend a New Media conference at the Jacob K. Javtis Convention Center. This large glass and metal structure is on 11th Avenue, between 34th and 40th Streets, on the Westside of Manhattan in New York City.
My brother-in-law Donald, a Manhattan lawyer, lives on the Eastside of New York between 1st and 2nd Avenues. He was nice enough to put me up (Or put up with me. I am an in-law, after all) at his place.
Now Don gives great and explicit instructions and advice. He gave me great parking advice and told me to catch the crosstown bus on 34 St. Even though I am born and bred in the NYC area, and spent many a day in the city, I was intimidated. I hadn’t been on a transit bus since high school and for good reason (back then).
The ticket process was immediately complicated.
Riders need to pay with a pre-purchased MTA card or $2.25 in quarters. I have a hard enough time keeping my pants on my waist, so you can bet I did not have a pocket filled with quarters.
The fellow riders were sympathetic and helpful. They expressed frustration that debit cards weren’t accepted and suggested I get change and hurry back.
I set out across the street to get change from a five. I did not have high hopes when I entered a small diner packed with customers. I asked for the quarters at the counter.
“Get outta here!” or “Beat it!” was what I expected. That is what would have happened without surprise in previous years. Instead, the owner smiled and told the cashier to give me whatever I needed. He even patted my shoulder when I expressed appreciation.
As I got on the bus, I grabbed a seat. At the next stop some hard scrambled old gals (my favorite kind of New Yorker) got on the bus.
It happen so fast I almost missed it.
Four different men and women got up and gave up their seats. I got the hint and gave up my seat for the duration of the ride. I was not alone. At the next stop people getting on the bus helped two women in wheel chairs onto the bus. Everyone sat patiently. Huh? This is New York, people!
By the time the bus arrived on the Westside I was in awe of New Yorkers’ compassion, helpfulness and courtesy.
After the conference I met up with my friend Vinnie the cop and his K-9 partner Curtin for pizza.
Vinnie takes his role as a NYPD police officer seriously, very seriously.
Like me, however, Vinnie is a comedian and a ventriloquist. He is also an ambassador for New York City, stopping to take pictures with and without Curtain.
One high school age girl from North Carolina seemed as if she was meeting Justin Bieber when Vinnie agreed to a picture. Vinnie loves his job, loves his city and loves making people laugh while working a very serious job. I am proud to be his friend.
Stop yourself and ask what kind of greeting people receive coming to your town or city?.
Heck, what kind of greeting do people get when they walk into your office or store or restaurant?
If New Yorkers can manage to be polite, courteous, and helpful in their city, can you and your employees manage to pull it together for the next customer that walks through the door? Please give it a try.
Trust me when I say many of you are failing miserably at this greeting and helpfulness thing. That indifference to customers will kill your business.
Be like a New Yorker. Drop the indifference. “Get outta here!”