plumtreeblossom: (cello)
They're so very easy to spot: recent transplants to New York who are insecure and must make sure you know that they live IN NEW YORK and not here or anywhere else.

Say "hi" to a New York transplant and they will find a reason to give you the 411 about New York where they live because they're a New Yorker from New York. Except they'll do it in a Midwestern accent, or a stiffled Maryland drawl, or the painful Great Lakes mono-vowel screech that I'm all too familiar with because I used to sport it myself. Even without any accent at all, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool a fellow urban transplant.

They make their presence known and I need do nothing. At lunchtime today I was in the food court in Downtown Crossing at the Chinese food stall, and a young woman on a cell phone with an accent I've only ever heard on an Oklahoman was questioning the authenticity of the lo mein. "That is not what we call lo mein in New York. I know because I live in New York and NEW YORK lo mein does not look like that!"

(True enough, the lo mein looked atrocious, but that isn't my point.)

They don't need to be angry to exhibit this behavior. At a party once, a girl I didn't know was wearing festive striped socks. I said "Like your socks!" The girl replied "Oh, these are from New York, where I live. I bought them on 6th because I live so close to there that I can just walk there whenever and shop, which is kind of the way everybody in New York does it." Follow-up revealed that she'd only lived there for three months.

I know a healthy number of native New Yorkers, and they don't tend to do this.

Back in Rochester, a local gal got preggers by a touring performance artist (Spaulding Grey, no less) and moved to New York to have the baby. On a visit back, phrases like "we New Yorkers do everything fast" and "being the Manhattanite that I am" fell helter skelter from her purple backwater lips when she graced our wee arts center with a visit. The word pfft hadn't been coined yet, which is a shame because it would have been so handy just then.

I'm reading your mind, reader. You're thinking "Mare, you see a bit of yourself in this behavior, and that's why it bugs you." Well slap my ass and call me Sally, you're correct. I can keenly empathize with these people, who are mostly young and, like me a decade ago, perhaps had to overcome some fairly big obstacles to escape some place they didn't want to live in order to follow their dream in Teh City. It works in the opposite direction, too -- sometimes native urbanites want to move out to the country and live 100 miles from the nearest traffic light. I'm always happy when someone shores up enough escape velocity to go live where they want to live. I'm glad I moved to a place that feels big enough for me. Oh, and also, I Heart New York as much as any of them, as well as my chosen Boston.

But I don't cram it in people's faces, unless they're trying to convince me I was wrong to move, and they very seldom do.

So to New York Newbies, I only want to say this:

I'm happy for you, kid. Whether it was with or without help, you got yourself out of Teenieweenieville and came all the way up the Yellow Brick Road, and I know perfectly well how difficult that can be, especially when no one else you know has similar ambitions. I know you feel proud, and you should. I know it's impossible not to think about your high school classmates back in T-ville, who are at this moment stocking aisle 2 at Virgil's Grocery Cabin with a Lucky Strike behind their ear and their 4th child on the way at age 23. It's okay if you sometimes do the private little wiggle dance of schadenfreude. And very confidentially, it's cool with me if you feel a tiny little bit superior, deep inside.

But put a fucking lid on it. Especially with people you don't know. We are not dazzled by your glamour-shield of Newyorkity. Having moved to New York has probably added value to your life, which is great, but it does not add value to you as a person. Before you get your new Zip Code tattooed across your collarbone, consider that your new local butcher and deli lady, who have lived there all their lives, probably think you're enough of a fucktard already. And when you're out of town, hammering the fact that you live in New York won't make people crumple to their knees in awe, won't get you better service, and doesn't make you an authority on everything under the sun. If our lo mein looks inedible, it's because it was made by a sucky cook, not because it was made by a non-New Yorker. Learn the phrase "originally from _______," because you do have something to fill in there.

Also, you don't need to helpfully share that "Nobody says Avenue of The Americas" when I never even said "Avenue of The Americas." I know that you know that I know that you said "Avenue of The Americas" without irony, not very long ago at all.

Food Waste

Jan. 31st, 2007 02:30 pm
plumtreeblossom: (eat em up)
I'm strongly in favor of paying for fast food by its weight, like you can do at some salad bars (but hardly anywhere else). Being able to order only the amount you actually want should be a more widely available option, as well as the option to order half-portions or share a plate. If more food places operated on this template, we could each pay only for the amount of food we can reasonably eat, and significantly less food would be wasted in a hungry world.

This morning I was out on a work errand in Downtown Crossing, and I stopped into the food court to get some Indian food for lunch. The takeout box contained more food than I could have eaten in two sittings. By the time I was a quarter-way through I was full, and by half-way through I had chicken tikka masala jetting out my ears. But because I had more errands and the rest of the workday at the office, it wasn't practical to schlep the gloppy box through all of that and then home.

I just sat there poking in the leftover food -- a full meal, really -- and thinking about the waste of this perfectly good food that would fill the belly of a hungry person. And of all the other people all over America who can't finish the oversized meal they had to buy because it's one-ginormous-size-fits-all in this country.

I dine-out more often than I dine-in, and bringing home doggie bags is very seldom practical, especially since I don't have a car and am usually not heading directly home after a meal. When I think, over the course of my life, how much food was left on my thousands of plates because the portion was insanely too large for me, and when I imagine it all together and fresh and edible, it could keep a village feasting for weeks. If I think of all the money I would have saved if I'd been allowed to order half-portions, I could afford to travel to that village and deliver the food myself.

Worse are memories of when I was a young person working in restaurants, and the mortifying food waste that regularly happens there. Like at Friendly's (which is anything but) which does *not* donate day-old or surplus food to homeless shelters, for "liability" reasons. I was heartsick when I was forced to dump two gallons of perfectly good chowder down the sink, particularly when I was critically impoverished and nearly homeless myself. At Wendy's, I was glad when it was my turn to take whole bags of burgers that had been sitting more than 30 minutes to the dumpster. That way I'd know where in the dumpster they were when I got off my shift.

So, I left my still half-full container of Indian food on top of the food court trash bin, for homeless or freegans or whoever to take if they wanted. If I'd been able to order half as much, I'd have more money and less food would end up in the garbage, which this box probably did.


plumtreeblossom: (Default)

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