Michaela Merz

New Yorkers

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They’re so nice! I was looking for 1500 Broadway, in the middle of New York, in the heart of Times Square. That seems to be so easy. The building is here and huge but I simply cannot find the entrance. I look around helplessly and cluelessly and barely a minute passes when a young man approaches me.

He says that I look lost (it’s true!) and asks whether I need some help. ‘Yes, I need help!’ I think to myself. He doesn’t know where the entrance is but his thoughts and advice are good, after that I find what I was looking for quickly. I really appreciate his help very much and his loss of time was maybe 60 seconds. But what the 60 seconds achieve is simply overwhelming. I feel comfortable in the middle of so many strange people and cars. I feel at home. I feel that I am not irrelevant to the people. I’m part of a big community. That’s how I Imagine hospitality to be like.

That is now not only the exception but the rule. New York can be incredibly full and hectic and nevertheless I experience everyone being nice and patient, letting the other person go first, laughing with each other, being helpful and taking the time for a quick chat. They’re very inclusive and I have never experienced an exclusion. You can become a part of this place as a foreigner very quickly. You only have to want it. I think their attitude and social interaction is very pleasant. The truth is that I haven’t only experienced this mentality in New York but in many locations in the USA. My American clients thank me for my work every time and you can feel that they honestly mean it and that they are very grateful for what I do for them.

In Zurich I experience the opposite. Approaching a stranger is very risky.  Zurich is very impatient and is seen as inconsiderate every now and then. As soon as the lights change at the crossings to green and the first car at the queue doesn’t shoot off like a rocket they honk. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ as you hear it often in New York, holding the door open so that the other person can enter and then getting on as the last person is rare in Zurich. I don’t know why it is that way since people in both cities are very studious, work hard, are smart and innovative. But somehow the interaction between each other in New York is warmer and more courteous than in Zurich.

I really like Zurich and actually also the ‘Zürcher’ (people from Zurich). I would have just wished that they would adjust their interaction with each other just a little bit more to what you experience in New York.

To be nicer to one another, nicer and more helpful to strangers. When I think about this, as to how I do it myself, I unfortunately have to realize that I can put more effort in. A lot more effort.

Let’s laugh with one another and offer help. I’ll start with myself. Thank you New York for the instructions.

Image source: Unsplash.com

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