I’ve been back in the New York area since June, and typically, I make a note to self about what’s changed or is simply surprising while I still feel like the (legal) alien.
A qualitative and anecdotal listicle in no particular order (feel free to fact-check!):
- People are still (mostly) wearing masks on public transport. Assume if they’re not, they’ve probably had COVID-19. If they’re wearing them outside, they may have COVID-19—no eye rolls or judgment for wearing them if it works for you.
- Networking and catching up for coffee/cocktails/lunch is harder to organize as most people are still working from home or they’ve moved out of town altogether.
- Printed business cards, my blank thank you card collection, and Forever stamps are completely pointless when there’s no office address.
- Many companies are “trying” to get people back in the office at least three days per week. But, no one seems to want to return to the office. They’ve moved, can’t face the commute, work from everywhere now and, even when in the office, still end up in Zoom meetings because others have moved.
- Everything is delivered, and, after climbing over all the Amazon boxes to get to their front door, I’ve visited friends who have said, “Alexa, add band-aids to the shopping cart” and “hey Google, set the timer for 10 minutes”, mid-conversation.
- Voice-activated devices work for American accents, and even though they may be spying on us, the convenience of Nest, kitty cams, and doorbells with cameras seem to outweigh the privacy risk. Of course, no one answers the door; it’s only Amazon.
- The skyline is entirely different; vertiginous skyscrapers swamp the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings. The Vessel at Hudson Yards wasn’t finished when I was last here, but it’s since been closed to prevent suicides.
- Brand-new shopping malls make no sense; Brooklyn pop-ups in Rockefeller Center do.
- It costs money to go to the beach in New Jersey.
- Favorite ad campaigns: AHA soft drink and Venus Gillette #getpubic
- It smells like skunk weed in Manhattan, while it could be an actual skunk in New Jersey. Thanks to @katie gross, who told me LA people eat it, and New Yorkers smoke it.