I often wonder why those who visit our fair city seem to honestly believe that most every other patron of the subway is going to rob them, try to convince them that aliens are wired directly into their brain, or pee on them. Funny thing is, the palpable nervousness this assumption produces actually makes any of the above far more likely to happen.
Try not to look like a tourist
This is surprisingly easy to do. Here's how: Pretend you're sitting at home watching the TV while on the subway (only you should act like the TV is between your toes). If you can pretend to sleep between stops, go for it. No kidding. Only people who live here can do that without freaking out, so fake it (but keep a hand on your bag)! Do not wear the I (heart) NY T-shirt you just bought; it needs to be worn to bed and washed several hundred times before you can wear it in public, sheesh. Do not wear shorts. I'm not kidding. NO SHORTS. Do not, for the love of all that is holy, wear a fanny pack or put your backpack on over your chest. You may as well paint a big target on yourself. Speaking of Target, do not wear clothes you bought from there; we can tell. Do not also wear a baseball cap unless it's for a certain local baseball team. Do read something in transit. Well, you should read anything except a newspaper. You are NOT ready for that folding trick.
Surprise! We ask each other for directions fairly often (it's a big place and the subways are notoriously screwy on the weekends okay?), so feel free to seek out a relatively friendly face, excuse yourself, and politely ask a succinct question. Unfortunately, most of you are afraid to speak to anyone except in broad daylight with a cop in sight. That will tag you as a tourist (or an ass) pretty qlickly. We will only venture into sunlight when we are trying to get someplace else (you see how pale we are, no?). A New Yorker will not feel the urge to knife you or take your wallet if you try to avoid wasting their time, which actually makes a subway train or platform a great place to ask for directions. I know, it's dark and scary, but we're bored when we're down there and you can be entertaining. Be quick about it no matter what you do; the fastest way to a "F*** off" is to slow somebody down, so do try to avoid stopping a New Yorker walking at warp speed. We always have somewhere else to be! :)
Get outta my way
Speaking of stopping New Yorkers, we will push you out of the way if we can't easily get around you. Sorry. Get used to it. There are nearly 9 Million of us shoved into a very small area. We've learned efficient ways to move about. You haven't. Getting shoved is far more likely to happen if you and your entire rotund family are together (barely moving) walking six-abreast, looking up or (worse) huddling over a map in a sidewalk bottlekneck. You do all seem to seek the worst possible places to do that. If you are going to stop and take pictures, please do it somewhere I am not walking. You might even get an interesting angle of a certain very famous construction site that way.
Everybody's favorite tragic location
Speaking of "Ground Zero..." Yes, it's sad. Yes, it's a mass grave. Yes, we're still sensitive about it. No, we do not want to talk about it with you. It has also become rather an awkward place where those who live here try desperately not to yell at tourists for blocking pathways. That said, "Ground Zero" is right atop a huge transportation hub that feeds Wall Street. If you don't want an attractive 40-something in a suit that costs more than most of us make in a month snarling at you, the female version of which may be walking at a physically impossible clip in very high, very pointy heels, please observe the "get out of my way" rule. In fact, this applies everywhere. Keep moving!
Oh! Keep a hand on your iPhone (or leave your techno-geekery at home). Trust me. If you're gonna get robbed, it will happen astonishingly fast and you probably won't notice until it's all over. DO NOT RESIST!