STEVEN PICCIONE/THE HOYA
STEVEN PICCIONE/THE HOYA

Real New Yorkers don’t stand on escalators.

They don’t walk up them, either. They run. Because that deafening screech is the 4 train pulling into the 59th Street station, and missing it means it’ll be a bad morning.

Actually, real New Yorkers never have a good morning. And they certainly don’t say “Good morning.” Ever. To anyone.

Not to the middle-aged blonde woman with the choppy haircut who drinks a venti chai latte every day. (Her name is Janet; it says so on the side of her Starbucks cups.)

Not to the burly, balding businessman next to her who can’t complete his Sudoku puzzle today and so tilts the screen of his iPhone toward him, shielding himself from the laser beams of judgment that Janet, or anyone else who saw him beat his personal record of 3.5 minutes on the expert level last week, may shoot at him.

And they certainly don’t answer the guy in the tan overcoat and Yankees cap who grins and says, “Good morning, sexy,” to everyone who passes by. Real New Yorkers pretend not to see him.

Same goes for the beggars that come rolling through the subway cars, shaking cups of change and performing “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” or something by Beyoncé. Real New Yorkers know precisely when to jam their eyes shut and pretend to be asleep as the homeless walk through the subway car.

Though it may look like it, real New Yorkers are never really sleeping. They sit with their eyes closed, cursing the subway for its screeching (was it this loud yesterday!?), which never fails to overpower the song playing on their iPod, no matter how much they raise the volume.

Or they’re reading: The Times, The Wall Street Journal or perhaps the latest Danielle Steel novel (Janet seemed to like it; it took her only four days to finish it) are all possibilities. But don’t be mistaken, real New Yorkers never really read either. They stare at a single sentence, perpetually rereading it as they silently wish diarrhea upon the sassy medical assistant in sky blue scrubs who’s complaining about her boyfriend or boss loud enough for the next car to hear.

Real New Yorkers always have exact change, for they order their morning coffee the same way at the same place every day. They can easily spot the novice: rummaging through pockets for a nickel or dime, throwing crumpled bills onto the counter, waiting for change right as his train pulls in. If — and it’s a big if — he makes it in time, they watch him squeak through closing doors, coffee bubbling up out of the pinprick hole in the lid, spilling a little and burning his hand when the train jerks into motion.

Real New Yorkers avoid this whole situation by counting out the proper amount of money the night before and placing it where it’s easily accessible in their wallet, which they leave at the corner of their kitchen island next to their banana for lunch. Every morning it’s one fell swoop and they’re out the door. Not at 6:30 or 6:35, but 6:32. On the dot. That gets them to the subway with four minutes — give or take 30 seconds — to purchase their coffee and bagel, then walk to the blackened piece of gum stuck to the platform floor that marks where they wait, the precise spot where the doors will open up in clear view of a seat. Real New Yorkers have this spot committed to memory, by number of steps or the feel of the air — and they could find it blindfolded if they had to.

That same gum spot waits for them that evening, when they do it all over again in reverse. The swipes of MetroCards, the sounds of nearby mariachi bands, the brush of a stranger’s leg against theirs serve as reminders that their home is in the motion. It’s uncertain whether real New Yorkers ever stop moving.

But one thing is for sure — they don’t stand on escalators.

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