Marya Caristi

Before Great White sharks made their presence known, there were large numbers of another Apex species migrating to the Cape every summer, instigating fear and loathing among locals: New Yorkers.

I would argue however, and only after a great deal of research, that like the Great Whites, New Yorkers are a largely misunderstood group. They have more in common with us than we realize.

My research started a year ago when my sons accepted jobs in New York City. And by New York City, I mean Manhattan. I’ve learned that’s an important distinction.

Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx or Staten Island aren’t referred to in conversation as “New York” or “the City.” If someone resides in one of those places and is asked where they live, they either answer the name of the borough or “the Five Boroughs.” We can relate. That would be akin to someone’s claiming they live on Cape Cod and, when asked what part, answering, Buzzards Bay. A fairly solid case could be made that Buzzards Bay is the Cape. But it’s only allowed, if disclosed in discussion prior to being asked.

It doesn’t matter if they are a “bridge and tunnel” person (B&T) or Manhattanite, all New Yorkers take a lot of heat for their assertive driving. It’s likely they aren’t all bad behind the wheel, just that they have no idea where they are going when they cross one of our bridges.

We don’t exactly make it easy for them.

In a one-mile stretch of Sandwich north of 6A there are five streets with some iteration of Beach and Way. There is Beach Way in Carleton Shores near Cranberry Lane, Beach Way off Cranberry Trail in Scorton Dunes, and Beachway, Beachway West and Beachway East tucked away off Wing Boulevard. Talk about confusing.

Manhattan is laid out in a neat, predictable grid. Streets run east to west. Numbered avenues run south to north. Fifth Avenue is the dividing line. Ask a New Yorker for directions, they can get you from point A to point B with minimal effort. Here on the Cape, locals hold up their arms like they’re showing off their biceps, wiggling their fingers to show P-town, pointing to their elbow to designate the Mid-Cape and explaining that the shoulder is Sandwich and armpit is Buzzards Bay.

Still, we do have some commonality with New York City drivers. Stuck at a light after getting cut off by another vehicle, a New York City Uber driver laid on his horn, threw up his hands and exclaimed, “Of course, look at the plate!” Connecticut. No one was surprised.

Those kinds of too-close-for-comfort moments come in a variety of ways with New Yorkers. Personal space is at a premium in New York. Crowds move along like tightly packed schools of fish. Commuters jam into subway cars like sardines. Stores, restaurants, bars and housing are designed to optimize every square inch, which means people are accustomed to cramped quarters. So, when a family plunks down on top of you on the beach or crams into the vestibule or bar at a favorite restaurant that already seems chockablock full, they could be New Yorkers. That kind of closeness is the norm to them.

Which also explains why so many are willing to pay a premium to rent or buy a “cozy” cottage here on the Cape. That word means something entirely different in New York. My sons were on the hunt for a new apartment, closer to their downtown office. We found a lovely two-bedroom with a “loft” online. Upon further investigation, it ends up the loft was the second bedroom and it was a 30-inch crawl space in the ceiling above the kitchen. The first bedroom was in the kitchen.

No wonder so many are willing to plunk down a few thousand dollars for a week in a less than 1,000-square-foot three-bedroom, two-bathroom cottage near the beach.

So cut our visitors from the Big Apple some slack. They are just looking for some R&R and to escape the crowds, high cost of living, and exorbitant taxes. We might think we have all that in common, too. But we’ve got nothing to complain about compared to them. But that’s a column for another day.

Ms. Caristi is a small-business owner and empty nester. She, her husband Jason and spoiled rotten yellow Lab, Moo, reside in East Sandwich.

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