Philosopher James DiGiovanna suggested to me that the existing Jerk Quiz might not be valid in New York City, so I suggested he draw up a NYC version. Here's the result!
New York City Jerk Test
by James DiGiovanna
1. You have a fifteen-minute break from work, a desperate need for a cigarette, and a seven-minute-each-way walk to the bank on a very crowded sidewalk. Do you: (a) Calmly walk the 14-minute round-trip handling the cigarette cravings by reminding yourself that you only have a scant 7 more hours of work, a 49-minute commute on the crowded and probably non-functional F train, and then a brief walk through throngs of NYU students before you can reach your undersized apartment for a pleasant 4 minutes of smoking. (b) Curse the existence of each probably mindless drone who stands between you and your goal. (c) Find a narrow space just off the main thoroughfare and enjoy 5 quick drags meant to burn your entire cigarette down to the filter in under 30 seconds. (d) Light up a cigarette as you walk, unconsciously assuming that others can dodge the flaming end and/or enjoy the smoking effluvia as they see fit, if indeed they have minds that can see anything at all. 2. You are waiting at the bodega to buy one measly cup of coffee, one of the few pleasures allowed to you in a world where the last tree is dying somewhere in what was probably a forest before Reagan was elected. However, there is a long line, including someone directly in front of you who is preparing to write a check in spite of the fact that this is the 21st century. You accidentally step on this person’s toe, causing him or her to move to the side yelping in pain. Do you: (a) Apologize profusely. (b) Offer the standard, “pardon me!” while wondering why check-writers were allowed to reproduce and create check-writing offspring at this late point in history. (c) Say nothing, holding your precious place in line against the unhygienic swarm of lower lifeforms. (d) Consider this foe vanquished and proceed to take his or her place as you march relentlessly towards the cashier. 3. You are in hell (midtown near Times Square) where an Eastern Hemisphere tourist unknowingly drops a wallet, and an elderly woman wanders out in front of a runaway hot dog stand, risking severe cholesterol and death. Do you: (a) Shout to the Foreign Person while rushing to rescue the elderly woman. (b) Ignore the neocolonialist tourist and his or her justifiable loss of money earned by exploiting the third world and attempt to save the woman because, my God, that could be you and/or your non-gender-specific life partner someday. (c) Continue on your way because you have things to do. (d) Yell so that others will see that there is a woman about to be hotdog-carted, assuming this will distract the crowd from the dropped wallet, making it easier for you to take it and run. 4. You have been waiting for the A train for 300 New York Minutes (i.e. five minutes in flyover state time.) Finally, it arrives, far too crowded to accept even a single additional passenger. Do you: (a) Step out of the way so others can exit, and allow those on the platform in front of you to enter the train, and then, if and only if there is ample room to enter without compressing other persons, do you board the train. (b) Wait calmly, because when his happens, 9 times out of 10 an empty train is 1 minute behind. (c) Mindlessly join the throngs of demi-humans desperately hoping to push their way into the car. (d) Slide along the outside of the car to the spot just adjacent the door, then slip in the narrow space made when a person who is clearly intending to get back in the car stepped off to make way for someone who was disembarking to pass. 5. It is a typical winter day in New York, meaning at the end of each sidewalk is a semi-frozen slush puddle of indeterminate depth. Perhaps it is barely deep enough to wet your boots, perhaps it drains directly into a C.H.U.D. settlement. You see a family, the father carrying a map and wearing a fanny pack, the mother holding a guide which say “Fodors New York för Nordmen,” the blindingly white children staring for the first time at buildings that are not part of a system of social welfare and frost. They absentlly march towards the end of the sidewalk, eyes raised towards New York’s imposing architecture, about to step into what could be their final ice bath. Do you: (a) Yell at them to stop while you check the depth of the puddle for them. (b) Block their passage and point to a shallower point of egress. (c) Watch in amusement as they test the puddle depth for you. (d) Push them into the puddle and use their frozen bodies as a bridge to freedom. -----------------------------------------
(I interpret James's quiz as a commentary on how difficult it is, even for characterological non-jerks, to avoid jerk-like behaviors or thoughts in that kind of urban context.)
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