Travel Stories: The big deception called New York City


After a two hour train journey, followed by a one hour flight, five hour lay-over and again a seven hour flight (everything for the cheapest ticket) I arrived in the capital of capitalism: New York City.

Despite what many others say, I actually don’t really like New York. The shopping walhalla and ‘city of opportunities’ as many see it, is just a big deception to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Americans or the country. Most of the American people are really friendly and the countryside is beautiful. But New York just doesn’t do it for me.

Three and a half years ago was the first time I went to NYC, or actually the second but I don’t remember much from the actual first one. Of course I was impressed. Everything is so big, the city literally never sleeps and billboards are brightening the streets 24/7. But it was also dirty. Many homeless people, guards and security everywhere. Safety warrants coming out of the speakers all the time in such a typical ‘polite American good guy’ accent, like the people are stupid and need to be reminded to ‘take the elevator when you have huge bags or packages‘.

new york deception

This time it was even worse. I now compare New York City to the other metropolitans I have seen in the past few years, and they don’t come out good. It started at the airport – after waiting two hours to get through security I am selected for ‘a secondary passport check’ as well. All the security guards and police with big guns and sticks attached to their jackets don’t really make me feel safe. The opposite is rather true – with all those precautions it looks like an attack can happen any moment.

In the bus the driver reminds us that it’s illegal to harass anyone. ‘that’s the law!’ Apparently there are people here who need to be reminded of this..

Out on the streets it is not much better. Homeless people begging everywhere, it’s dirty, there are many holes in the road and everything is being covered up by big screaming billboards telling you to buy more and more and more. Very ironic for a country that is so much in debt. Although they claim to be democratic, New York doesn’t look like a free city to me. The companies who own the giant advertising screens seem to dictate what the average citizen should do. Caught up in consumerism. Not knowing how to escape.

The atmosphere is filled with fear and faded glory. Like people are bad and need to be protected against themselves and each other. They live in a cage of rules and regulations. Promotions screaming things like ‘Americans’ best‘ are trying to keep up the image. So much focus on money.

With everything being arranged by an economic model it seems like the trust in the goodness of people is gone.

new york deception

A women approaches me in the Greyhound bus station. ‘Thank God I found someone who doesn’t look so dangerous! You are not from here right?‘ I admit I am not and the women asks if she can sit next to me. She tells me a story about her child that is being taken to another hospital seven hours away from here, by helicopter. She has to follow by bus but tells me she doesn’t have any money anymore to pay for the ticket. I believe her, although I am not sure I should. She looks decent, just looking for some comfort and someone to share her struggles with. I give her the money she says she is short on for the bus.

Oh now you are in New York… Concrete jungle where dreams are made of.. Or at least, that’s what they would like you to believe. The city doesn’t seem to care a bit for its citizens at all. It’s sad.

But there is hope. I try to look beyond the things that scare me. Another woman approaches me, just to have a conversation this time. We chat for a bit and I think about how the people might be able to change their system. If they finally don’t take it anymore – all those regulations, student debts are rule rather than exception, getting broke if you get sick, such unequal wealth distribution… Together, people always have the power.

Three hours in New York were enough for me. I am off to Pittsburg for now, where I will sleep in a donation based hostel that says it will show me that people are good. I have my hopes back up.

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