“I’m From New York.”

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Personal Pet Peeves

Posted: 05/3/2011

All hail.

I worked a raw bar at an event we catered in New Hampshire a few weeks ago and I could hear Mr. NYC before I could see him. He was the loud guy whose bellicose comments and bravado distinguished him amid the large crowd in front of me. When he made his way to the bar, he barked, Where are these things from?, while rocking side-to side and pointing to the oysters with his hand in the formation of a pistol.

Pleasant Bay in Chatham on Cape Cod. They were harvested yesterday, I replied.

Mr. NYC: I’m from New York City, and we get oysters from all over the world…

Congratulations, sir.

I wonder if anyone has ever told these people what they sound like.

The I’m from New York (or any urban locale) comment is often inserted into a conversation, followed by a pause, as if to say, There is nothing left for me to learn or experience ever again.

I was talking with the owner of a great pizza shop on Cape Cod a few weeks ago and we started discussing the premise of this blog post. After I told him the title he replied; Ah, yes. The Mecca, The Holy Land… (Several New Yorkers have actually conceded to loving his pizza.)

It can be argued that NYC is one of the greatest cities in the world. (Just ask the producers of the LATE SHOW with David Letterman.) I personally love visiting NYC. I’ll spare you the requisite, I have friends from NY line, but I will invite Merf Rosner, Johnny Croce and others to weigh in.

Is it the greatest city? Is any city? It depends on what you’re looking for.

Most stereotypes about groups of people are perpetuated by a handful of individuals who take things to an extreme. I’m sure lots of really cool New Yorkers cringe when they witness their brethren drop the ‘NY bomb’, or embellish their affiliation by designating themselves New Yorkers, despite having spent only a few years in or near the big city.

This post was suggested and inspired by Courtney, a New York native and veteran restaurant industry worker who currently works outside of The Empire State in a highly-acclaimed restaurant. Courtney has encountered numerous customers who have dropped the ‘NY bomb’ expecting shock, awe and adulation. Her response of, Me too, what neighborhood?, often leaves her guests a little disappointed that she isn’t from some rural outpost in the sticks.

My dear friend, Katt Tang, has a knack for making sure her customers enjoy a few laughs to go along with the food and drinks she serves. When a Mr. or Mrs. NYC-type drops, I’m from New York, on her, if she thinks they can handle it, she wryly inserts, I know

Touché, Katt.

Servers: Have you experienced the “I’m from New York” crowd?

True New Yorkers: Have you ever been embarrassed by your boasting brethren or NYC imposters?

27 Responses to ““I’m From New York.””

  1. This is a topic i’ve already scribbled into my notebook for a future post. I have dealt with many NYC types in my Italian restaurant, who apparently love to move farther south to the Washington D.C. area to hide. You’d think that if they charished and praised their beloved city so much they never would’ve left. I think they’re all from Jersey anyways.
    T’anks fa remindin’ me ‘dat I need ta f’nish writin’ about’dos guys. haha
    Check me out for future reference. I’m gonna add you to my blogroll bc i’m kind of new here and like your stuff!


  2. Sargep says:

    Recently, I had that couple come to my bar and drop the “I’m from New York” line on me in an effort to impress me and make me think that they had their own personal password to Death and Co. Of course, I know that we have a cocktail culture up here, in the styx, that is crazy inventive and talented, so I let them impress me with their 3 hour trip to spend time with us. At the end of the day, they asked for a drink that has several different incarnations, so I was able to, because they wanted to trip me up, beat them at their own game. At the end of it all, though, they left happy and I feel that I managed to uphold the honor of our not usually fair city.

    TL:DR- Boston bartenders aren’t uninformed plebians.

  3. Cindy says:

    I’m a native New York, born and bred in Queens, Jamaica, to be exact. I work at a bar in the Bronx. I have tons of people who try to drop that “I’m from NY” bomb on me, and I disappoint them by saying, “So am I.” More often than not, I can tell they’ve been there for a few years as opposed to me being born and raised there. And when I hear the boasters, yes it makes me cringe. It happened while I was in LA, at the Farmer’s Market ordering breakfast, and while waiting for my food, I saw a rich couple, and the woman was being so snooty to the food workers, complaining about something so stupid (I wish I could remember what it was) but I heard her say the boasting “I’m from NY” blah blah blah. So I was commenting to my sister and loud enough for the workers to hear, “Damn this idiot is making us look bad.”
    Interestingly enough, I tend to get the shocked reaction from customers when I tell them I’m born and raised there because “I’m too nice to be a New Yorker.”

  4. peeps says:

    I live in Des Moines, Iowa and work at one of the more upscale restaurants out here in the sticks. Being that we have the first in the nation Presidential Caucus we have all kinds of staffers, journalists, activists and politicos in town every four years.

    Invariably us poor rural hicks in flyover country have to deal with condescending NYC, Chicago or DC attitudes. Including the “I’m from” that this article speaks of.

    I’m well over it, I have traveled all over the world and am well educated and wait tables to pay off loans. I don’t care if you’re from Outer Mongolia, shut up, be polite and don’t explain to me that our food isn’t “real” nyc style or whatever.

  5. jj says:

    I work in a midwestern club that has its fair share of travelers wander through. I do not normally hear the “NYC” comment. The people that brag to us can’t even manage to nail down a city, it’s just “I’m from California.” ugh. Occasionally I will answer with a statement that is also not relevant.

  6. Skippymom says:

    My Mom was born and raised in NYC – and I never once heard her tout it in this sort of setting. Although I have to add she was asked constantly if she was from NY [because of her accent*] and would happily say “yes”.

    *As her daughter [we were raised in the DC area] I could never really hear her accent, it wasn’t thick, but boy, other people could.

  7. Dava says:

    I had a co-worker (at a bookstore, twenty years ago, but I think it’s relevant) who wore a tiny button that read, “we don’t care how you do it in New York.”

    I still want one.

  8. MC Slim JB says:

    Ha, great piece, Patrick! It’s another version of, “Do you know who I am?”, a sure way to get a host, server, bouncer or (most of all) cop to think, “What a titanic douche”, and to position said douche for getting the very opposite of what he wants/expects from it. This kind of fat-headed folly might be offensive if it didn’t simply inspire an inward eye-roll.

  9. It seems to me that when someone does the “I’m from____” thing to imply they know more, it’s a way to cover discomfort at actually NOT knowing something – a false bravado to cover up insecurity.

  10. Frederick says:

    I’ve heard the “NYC” declaration uttered from people who don’t even live in the actual city, but out in some dire suburb like Westchester. As far as I’m concerned the real divide is between City and Suburbia, not between New York and Boston or wherever else. Reading restaurant reviews on Yelp or Urbanspoon, I always roll my eyes and skip over the hate-filled rants that boil down to with “couldn’t find parking for my 4 ton SUV in the heart of Manhattan and therefore this restaurant sucks”. I automatically know that their food opinions are shaped by Applebee’s and Longhorn rather than Daniel or French Laundry.

  11. Pat,

    I’m wondering if this is a phenomenon most experienced by New Englanders when their “Big City” New York neighbors come to visit. While I have worked in Boston (and don’t remember this happening), most of my 40 years of restaurant experience is in and around the SF Bay Area where I grew up. I find that most everyone who comes to visit San Francisco is interested and amazed enough to be in that city that they don’t allow their “Big Apple” braggadocio or whatever point of origin centered hubris they have show itself.
    Don’t get me started on the French…

  12. nana says:

    Here in Detroit, we get visitors from all over the world but no one ever says,” I’m from Paris” “I’m from Beijing”! I’ve never been to NYC so I don’t know if it’s the greatest city in the world.

    What I hear from New Yorkers/Angelinos (same difference in my HUMBLE opinion) is that you can’t get good seafood in the Midwest! I’m like, yeah, we’re only surrounded by three Great Lakes and within hours of the Eastern Seaboard! If nothing can compare to NYC then please just stay there!

  13. Jeff Toister says:

    As you and others have pointed out, it probably is just a few idiots out there. I sometimes worry about guilt by association.

    I was living in Dublin, Ireland years ago when I observed a very rude, snooty woman drop an “I’m from New York” on the poor store employee who was trying very hard to please. This woman was so rude that I felt compelled to apologize to the employee and assure her that not all of us Americans are like that.

  14. April says:

    I hear this one a few times a night. I work in a wine bar in South Florida, the Holy Land of New Yorkers. I love the “I know” comment, there are so many times I have wanted to use it. Now I will! I always want to ask these people, “If it is the greatest place on Earth, what the hell are you doing here?” And honestly, how many millions of people live in New York? I’m more impressed meeting someone from Montana or the Dakotas – people are from there? How do they get out? Those people would be more interesting to me than the countless amount of obnoxious New Yorkers I encounter on a daily basis!

  15. Velma says:

    I’m a complete New Yorker (I’m almost fifty, and am now living outside of the city for the first time in my life), and yes, I cringe whenever I hear someone say it as a boast or a challenge. Yes, we have a lot of amazing things, but we also have *shudder* Manhattan clam chowder, and some of the worst things in the world as well.

    I could do a rant about how New York, for all its glory, doesn’t have things: the average bar in Seattle has better beers on tap by far; restaurants outside the city have more space between tables; local specials are made with local foods….

    If your attitude is, “I’m from New York: I’m more hip/more jaded than anyone else,” then why not stay there and glory in your jadedness? Save the marvels of the rest of the world for those of us who want to be delighted by them.

  16. Marsha says:

    This is so funny! When I waited tables in Minneapolis, we’d get the people from bigger cities crowing about what they could not get in the Midwest. It was pretty pathetic.
    I find I’ve done a version of the reverse now that I live in small town Idaho. People who realize I’m “new” in town will say, “Oh, wait for winter (BWAAA HA HA HA).” I then counter with, “Well, I’m from Minnesota.” I do, not reluctantly, burst their bubble. hee hee

  17. LAS says:

    Oh I just got back in last nite from a work event in NYC and I stayed in the meatpacking dist. at the Gansevoort Hotel on 18th 9th ave and 13th St. I have nothing bad to say about the hotel or service or that most of my colleagues who are wonderful folk are based in NYC and around the 5th ave dist. but WOW the pretentiousness of the area once known as the meatpacking district and all the high-end hotels there galleries, shopping and restaurants now made me go WOW.
    I honestly think some people believe NYC is the be all and end all.
    Civility should be in style in any and all cities but alas too many stories about people boasting from NYC such as the one that led off this blog post are all too common.

  18. jean ella says:

    I work at an upscale Italian restaurant in northern Minnesota. The Italian family that owns the restaurant is quite wealthy and well known. I’ve had guests come in and say: just so you know, I know “Jeno Paulucci”. My reply… So do I.

  19. Merf says:

    Loving these comments… Yes, I am from New York, yes, I have been embarrassed hundreds of times by New Yorkers – you just gotta laugh… and yes – the comment about the meatpacking district – the funniest is that the Whitney Museum will have a presence down there and the negotiations between the actual meat packers and the museum…they will be next door neighbors – is an only in New York…

  20. I was born in CT but spent a lot of time in NY. I miss living on the east coast. I love NY peeps. And I would say that NY is one of the greatest Cities. There is really nothing like it!

  21. kylie523 says:

    i’m sorry. way worse is ‘we’re from michigan. (what do you mean you don’t have a wedge)’?

  22. Ann says:

    I worked in a bookstore and nice clothing store in Dearborn, Michigan in the shadow of the Ford world headquarters, so we had customers from all over the world. New Yorkers didn’t bother me – it was those from L.A. And the French and French Canadians just assumed everyone spoke French.

  23. Natasha says:

    I’m originally from up north,(left when I was five, so I remember very little of it) and I’ve encountered the reverse of it down south. There’s a great deal of “Our Down Home Ways Are Better Just Because.” It’s not quite the same as the jadedness that comes with the “New York” attitude, but it’s still rooted in a sense of superiority. It also seems to come with a defensiveness that’s pretty sad. One of many examples, I had a friend from Britain come visit me and I took him to a local southern-food restaurant. The waitress, a woman who I knew personally, asked him where he was from and seemed to be offended when he said “London”. She immediately told him that the food here would “beat the hell out of anything in London”, ridiculed his accent and refused to answer his questions about the menu because “you’re in America now.” whatever that met. I was so ashamed that day. My mother informed me that she was like that with her when she learned that she had come from New Jersey. She isn’t the only one who I’ve met who has that same insular attitude. It makes no sense to me. What sort of chick never wants to break from it’s shell?

  24. MEH says:

    This makes me laugh… anytime I am far from home out at a restaurant (many other scenarios) and say “I’m from Boston” I do it to apooliize for not knowing the menu or customs etc. haha I never say it in a “do you know who I am” or “I am better then you” kind of way. People are so stuck on themselves and arrogant. Jokes on them though, because it creates great posts like this one and well most of us see right through it.

  25. sarah says:

    It happens at fabric shops, too. Just because we’re not from/in NYC doesn’t mean we don’t have quality stuff.

  26. Miche says:

    Amazing, but we do get customers in our trendy little Lebanese bistro that need to forewarn us that they are from Eastern Canada and therefore hold the standard for fine Middle Eastern cuisine. They do, after all have (Costco) donairs at both gas stations near their house.
    The owner heard this sort of line from some college kid who needed to tell us he was from Brampton ( small town Ont.). She exagerated her Arabic accent and said,” Ah! Brampton, Lebanon, the village next to mine!”.

  27. Dee says:

    Best retort I *ever* heard for that line came from my friend Judy, bartender since the 70s..she was going over the daily menu specials in her Italian restaurant in Pennsylvania when she was interrupted with, of course, “Hey–I’m from Noo Yawk, sweethaat”— to which she replied (in her thickest West Virginian accent) “That’s alright honey, I’ll read it reeeeal slow for y’all.”

    Best line ever! I use it all the time and even the New Yorkers have to laugh.

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