Outside the Empire State Building and a handful of other big NYC landmarks is always a small army of neon-clad guys from City Sights NY trying to convince tourists to hop on one of those double-decker tour buses. What amazes me is how well these guys use tourist profiling to to save themselves time and effort
Yes, tourist profiling. It’s like racial profiling, but less offensive, and less about who’s holding a bomb than about who’s willing to pay for an overpriced, narrated bus ride. And I’m claiming coinage of the phrase.
Some tourist profiling is easy: any family walking around the ESB on a weekday morning is likely to be from out of town, and anybody dressed business casual and carrying a briefcase is clearly on the way to grab a supposedly gourmet coffee before work. But I often wonder what those tourist-profiling City Sights guys are looking for specifically. Is it a style of dress? A way of moving? A certain je ne sais quoi?
I think it’s the walk. Regardless of who you are or what you’re wearing, the way you walk can be a dead giveaway of whether you’re a tourist.
I once had a conversation with a bunch of coworkers who were originally from other parts of the country about when a person who lives in NY becomes a New Yorker. I think it has a lot to do with how you walk. It can be hard to walk slowly and aimlessly through bustling, destination-driven midtown crowds even if you just arrived from a small town. But if you still walk like a New Yorker when you’re in some other city or town, well, then you’re a New Yorker, my friend. Now get out of my way, I have a train to catch.