Last month, Conde Nast Traveler ranked the Top 10 friendliest and unfriendliest cities in the country. Coming in at the No. 8 unfriendliest city is The Hamptons.
Never mind that “The Hamptons” is not a city. We are, apparently, insufferable. Locals have rejoiced at the coming of Tumbleweed Tuesday. But, if the summers out here are the sole source of our negative vibes, why were The Hamptons cited by Conde Nast, while New York City was left off the list?
This surprised me, initially. Aren’t New Yorkers notorious for their attitude? For not making eye contact? For drawing lines on the sidewalk to demark “tourists’ walking lane” and “locals’ walking lane?”
But I happened upon a social experiment the other weekend that gave some insight.
I went into New York City for a friend’s birthday. She threw herself a barbecue in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and I was going to crash at her place after. The price of admission to the festivities: one six pack.
At 25, I’m told I’m lucky that I’m still “at that age” where I can reimburse people in beer. I hope to always be “at that age.” Exchanging a stay for some suds is the perfect system.
Six-pack in hand, the strangest thing happened when I got on the Jitney to head into Manhattan. I was prepared for—and almost wishing for—the stretch of silence ahead. But, as I stashed my beer and backpack in the overhead compartment, my seatmate commented, “only bringing the essentials, huh?”
“Never leave home without it,” I replied, wondering if I just had a meet-cute. He quickly put in his headphones. It was not meant be. But some ice had been broken.
I exited the bus at 42nd and made my way to the G train by the library, stopping first at the bathrooms in Bryant Park, which won an award two years ago for being among the cleanest in the country. As I waited in the long line, I struck up a conversation with the well-heeled woman behind me after she offered to hold the beer. I declined this offer, but what would have been a long wait was at least made more fun with her conversation.
Two new pseudo-friends. One six pack. I proceeded down the subway stairs.
Three police officers were waiting at the bottom, eyeing my beer as one told me I wasn’t allowed to bring it underground. I was caught. I wondered how people in New York ever go grocery shopping if a six-pack of legally sealed beer is illegal to carry. I tried to think of something witty to say call his bluff, but instead ended up with the decidedly less casual deer-in-headlights look. Sensing that this may have my first time in New York ever, the officer quickly changed his tune and let me pass with a jovial warning to not open a container on the subway. Three new pseudo-friends.
The G train was late, typical, I’m told, and the parade of “thanks for bringing that for me,” was never-ending. Beer has been known to create lasting friendships when consumed. But the sight of beer, even properly sealed, is also apparently an invitation for social interaction. A hours-long trip that would have been completed in silence was instead interspersed with a number of random conversations. No lifelong friends, but a few entertaining moments.
Hamptons, I’m taking my discovery east. There’s an innate quality in all of us that makes us open up when beer is present. I’m on a mission to make us a friendlier place, one unopened six-pack at a time.