Coffee, Tea, or Me?
April 10, 2006 2:35 PM   Subscribe

Lonely flight attendant...Help me!

I just moved to New York (Queens, to be exact) from California to be near my JFK base. I am finding it difficult to leave my crash pad to go out to explore NYC. My job can be very lonely as I don't have much time for a social life, and I do not participate in the "going to bars with Pilots to get drunk" normal activities that seem to be so prominent in aviation.

I need to meet people and I don't know how. NYC can be a very, very lonely place when you are always on your own and don't know anyone. The other girls are all pretty much from New York and don't really help much. I have been in the city a couple of times and it is so intimidating when you are alone. I have looked at the Village Voice, but to no avail as I don't know what the hell anything is/where the hell anything is.

I am young (22) and want to find something mentally stimulating other than the typical shopping experience the other flight attendants seem to "love". I need coffee shops, good shows, bars with somewhat intelligent people (or is that an oxymoron?) how to get around, and thrift stores so that I can finally find a coat that will suit this weather. I feel like I am looking for LA in NYC, and I need to stop this.

Can you fellow New Yorkers help me?
posted by thesiameseffect to Society & Culture (29 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
the best advice i can offer is to just get out there and check your surroundings. i moved from midwest to the east coast when i turned 18 and would spend the weekends exploring the city. transit makes everything fairly accessible...allow yourself to become a tourist in your new town. pick up a guide book that looks interesting and go!
posted by ms.jones at 2:49 PM on April 10, 2006

I would suggest posting this same basic question to NYC's Craigslist, but make sure you make it VERY clear in your ad that you are looking for a friend who can show you around and NOT a sex partner or anything even remotely sketchy.

Also, feel free to write me an email (find my website in my profile, the address is on the site in the "about" section). i'd be happy to give advice about places or even show you around a little, as time permits.
posted by edlundart at 3:11 PM on April 10, 2006

I felt the same way when I moved out there - volunteering was, by far, the best way to meet people that I found. I don't know what your schedule is like, but given the myriad of options in the city, hopefully you could find something. I'd start with New York Cares, since they have a lot of programs geared at working professionals.
posted by sachinag at 3:12 PM on April 10, 2006

I had fun with--and met some cool people in--classes I've taken. I'm not sure if your schedule is suited to such a commitment.

You might want to learn Spanish.
Or try creative writing.

Find something that interests you. There are lots of choices in NYC.
posted by etc. at 3:24 PM on April 10, 2006

You're lucky: there's a large, friendly, very active branch of MeFi in NYC. The meetups are pretty regular (to my shame, I've only been to one, cause I've so busy, but I see them listed all the time on MeTa).

One recent meetup was actually started by someone like you -- someone who had recently moved here and was lonely. She actually had the "balls" to post on MeTa, asking people to come to a meetup. The meetup happened and about 30 people came!

Here's my assessment of the NYC MeFite crowd (and I say this with great warmth, hoping I don't offend anyone) from the vangtage-point of a 40-year-old, married male: they are mostly singles in their mid/late 20s. All of them seemed really nice and smart and interesting to me, but -- a bit young. You're 22, so age-wise, you should fit right in. On the other hand, you say you're not really into the bar scene. I'm not either. So I'm a little out-of-my element with the 20-something, bar-hopping folks. But at the last meetup, I did managed to make one really good friend -- someone I've spent time with since then.

I'll extend the same invitation as edlundart. Feel free to email me (email in profile). I'm pretty well connected in the NYC theatre scene. Fun for me is museums, bookstores, movies and coffee shops. Not bars. So we have that much in common. And I'm happily married, so you don't have to worry about me hitting on you. (Still, a flight attendant... hmmm.... Hooters Air?)
posted by grumblebee at 3:28 PM on April 10, 2006

New York Mefites seem to meet-ups (big 'uns and smaller, less formal ones) practically every other week -- I'm sure if you go to one (or post to MeTa to organize one), you'll meet a bunch of folks who'd be happy to give you the scoop and might even show you around a bit, too.
posted by scody at 3:29 PM on April 10, 2006

jinx, grumblebee! :)
posted by scody at 3:30 PM on April 10, 2006

YOU'RE jinxed, scody. I posted first! (We NYCers are a mature bunch!)
posted by grumblebee at 3:34 PM on April 10, 2006

Welcome to New York!

Last question first: the Housing Works thrift store on 18th Street is not bad, and there's a great designer consignment store called Ina on Prince St between Mott and Elisabeth.

I'm sitting right now in the teashop in the McNally-Robinson bookstore, also on Prince St but between Lafayette and Mulberry; I come here to work but people always seem to be chatting and exchanging cards and like that. Oh, look, there's Joyce Carol Oates.

Otto, the gourmet pizza bar at 5th Avenue and 8th Street, is my local hangout and very sociable - avoid weekend evenings of course (and in NYC that includes Thursday).

The Pink Pony on Ludlow St is another good sociable coffee shop.
posted by nicwolff at 3:49 PM on April 10, 2006

Don't let NYC scare you. It acts tough, but it's all talk; as soon as you're like, "hey NYC, cut the bullshit," it'll be all "oh, my bad. Can I interest you in a ride on my convenient subway system?"
A few tips (and questions):
Get yourself a Hagstrom Five-Borough Atlas. It comes in regular and small sizes, depending on your prefered purse/satchel/backpack/handbag size. You will never regret this purchase.
Saying you live in Queens isn't terribly specific. Do you live in or near Kew Gardens? It seems like a lot of flight staff live there on account of it being relatively convenient to JFK and LaGuardia. If so, you're very close to Forest Hills, where there's lots of good stuff. Plus it's a straight shot on the F (or is it the E? Memory fails me here; in any case, one of those) train to Manhattan. Start by hanging out further downtown; get off a train at 14th street and just walk around (consulting your Hagstrom if you feel lost). Actually, stop by Pommes Frites on 2nd ave and get some fries with the mango chutney mayo. You'll thank me. Of course, if you live in Ridgewood or Queens Village, a lot of that advice won't really apply. But definitely find your way to Pommes Frites.
Do you drink at all? Or are you just not as avid a boozer as your pilot acquaintances? For all its negatives, going out drinking does streamline the meeting-people process. Indeed, finding a bar in which you feel comfortable and becoming a regular (i.e. visiting 3 or more times a month; even if just for one drink) will usually lead to getting to know at least one bartender (unless you're a lousy tipper), and knowing a bartender is a shortcut to knowing the other regulars.
Queens has a good library system and many branches have cultural programming and/or book clubs, etc. Plus, there's a slim chance you'll find a cute young librarian to flirt with.
There's a lot of NYC to see. For me, it was most comfortable to find a neighborhood where I felt okay, get to know my way around there, and really check it out before moving on to a neighboring area and repeating the process. Sort of gradually increasing the boundaries of my mental map.
posted by willpie at 4:24 PM on April 10, 2006

I live in South Ozone Park which gives me a straight shot to the AirTrain. To get to Kew Gardens, I just jump on the Q10. I am a bit familiar with that area, but it seemed so I wrong?
posted by thesiameseffect at 4:33 PM on April 10, 2006

grumblebee's description of the NYC mefite group is somewhat inaccurate- we're more diverse in ages than he represented (from early 20s to late 30s- I'm the same age as you, and nobody finds that weird), split down the middle between single and attached, and I wouldn't really describe the whole lot of us as "bar-hopping"- I really only go to bars when I'm going to a Metafilter meetup. First and foremost, we're a very warm and welcoming social group, so definitely stop by sometime (and, ahem, come more than once, will ya? My first meetup, I was horribly nervous and left early. The second meetup, I had a ball and made a thousand friends. Nobody held that first meetup against me). I've made plenty of really great friends at Metafilter meetups.

When I first moved to NYC, I didn't know anyone, either, but I'm a huge theatre buff, so I joined a seat-filling organization (Play by Play, highly reccommended, e-mail if you want more details) and went to the theatre every single night. Some of it was good and some of it was AWFUL, but it helped me learn my way around town, which made me feel more at home. Your first goal right now: Leave your apartment. Get out. Going somewhere, ANYWHERE, is better than staying home. There's a really great e-mail list for alternative events in NYC called Nonsense NYC that has a lot of fun events that seem to draw a Metafilter-like crowd.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:48 PM on April 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm going to see Gogol Bordello this wednesday with a friend or two. You're welcome to meet up there or come along (i'm starting out in the Village). They're playing at the Warsaw club in Brooklyn. Email's in the profile. It's going to be mostly drinking and dancing, though.

Nonsense NYC is great, as is Improv Everywhere if you're into public performance-oriented activities. Like bikes? Check out Times Up.

I'll also third- or fourth- the wait for a meetup or call a meetup idea.
posted by lorrer at 4:56 PM on April 10, 2006

As has been mentioned - watch out for the next NYC Mefite meetup. They sometimes happen in Queens and Brooklyn, too.

Also, NYC is actually a friendly place, that just might not seem obvious at first glance. Seriously, if you think NYC is cold, try London. Or rather, don't. God knows I love London but it's brutally hard for a stranger to fit in there compared to NYC.

Chat with people. Go into bars on your own and just sit at the bar, talk to the staff, the person next to you... I'm a pretty shy sort of guy but I was staggered by how much response you get from New Yorkers simply by being friendly and sociable. Go out. Do it.
posted by Decani at 4:59 PM on April 10, 2006

Bar reccommendation: go to Bar Carrera in the East Village and talk to George, the bartender/manager. He's ultra nice.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:00 PM on April 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

I found that the bars where good music was playing were much more fun than the ones where people were going to get drunk and/or find sexual partners. I particularly enjoyed the 55 Bar, Terra Blues, and nearly anything else on or near that stretch of Bleeker St.

Your mileage may vary of course, but if you can find a place where you like the cultural offering, you're liable to find that like-minded people to you are present there during the intermission, just waiting to be chatted up.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:43 PM on April 10, 2006

I'm having trouble finding the previous AskMes about how to approach New York wildlife. There are some very good ones.

I feel like I am looking for LA in NYC, and I need to stop this.

I hope you don't own a car in Queens. You do? I hope you're not trying to explore New York using it.
posted by Aknaton at 5:47 PM on April 10, 2006

thepinksuperhero (and others), I hope I didn't offend with my meetup description. The ONE meetup I went to felt really young to me -- and I'm such a fuddy-duddy that anyone who even looks at a bar seems like a bar-hopper to me. But I'm not criticizing. I liked everyone I met.
posted by grumblebee at 5:57 PM on April 10, 2006

Well good, because we liked you too :-) And your wife too! You need to make your way back to a meetup one of these days, really.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:35 PM on April 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

New York is a friendly place that's easy to get around but like any new city can be overwhelming. To some degree having some sort of structure helps . . . when I first moved to NY I did things like a guided walk in Central Park, joining clubs, going to book readings or parades in new parts of the city. Stuff I didn't do at all after 5 or 6 years living there, but having a scheduled appointment got me out of the apartment and after that first walk, for example, I could find the spots in the Park again any sunday.

I found that buying Time Out helped a lot actually. Just leafing through it over morning coffee and dipping into reviews, photos, articles made me very aware of different neighbourhoods, galleries, etc in a way that hopping on the subway and walking around didn't do for a while. And being able to open it up and find some event to get out and about to.
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:48 PM on April 10, 2006

Thursdays is gallery hopping night in west chelsea. You can dip in and out of places, there is often free (very bad) wine and people can sometimes be pretty chatty. Google for lists of openings.

Grumblebee is kinda right about the general youth of meetups, but it's right in your age range and you should definitely come to one. Even though I'm a fogey, I always have a blast. Also, if you go the craigslist route, definitely don't use the headline you used here.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:57 PM on April 10, 2006

The ONE meetup I went to felt really young to me

Grumblebee: you're right, I think. idest and I went to one meetup and we were by far the oldest people there. We're in our late forties; everyone else was twenties and thirties. But it was fine. I think people who go to these things are generally very aware of what a widely varied bunch Mefites are and they fully expect to see all sorts. Nobody gave us shit for being crumblies. Not to our faces, anyway... :-)
posted by Decani at 7:20 PM on April 10, 2006

In addition to watching for (or suggesting!) a MeFi meetup, I'd also suggest checking out the NYC Metroblog, since they have regular meetups as well. As I am good friends with one of their authors and have met most of the other ones, I can tell you that they engage in intelligent conversation and tend to meet in interesting places, not the typical let's-drink-till-we-fall-down barhopping scene.

Volunteering and taking classes are good suggestions, because they'll lead to meeting people you share an interest with. When you go out exploring, pick a neighborhood, go there, and wander around until you get a feel for it. New York Magazine has a neighborhood guide with printable maps and lots of good information.
posted by bedhead at 7:34 PM on April 10, 2006

Personally, I'm just a little disturbed that "going to bars with Pilots to get drunk is a normal activity so prominent in aviation".

But that's just me, and I never liked flying that much.

That said, you might find a bunch of what you are looking for in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Get off at the first stop in Brooklyn on the L train. Bedford Ave. Walk around; all that stuff you want is there. Thrift shops. Smart people bars. Coffee Shops. Good Shows. Wikipedia's Williamsburg entry has some good links at the bottom of the entry for specifics.

I also 2nd etc.'s suggestion of taking a class as a way to meet people. The Art Students League has a lot of great drawing and art classes, and it's a kind of pay as you go no definite start or end kind of thing so you can basically come and go as your schedule permits.
posted by extrabox at 9:58 PM on April 10, 2006

I'm rather introverted and therefore didn't make many new friends very quickly after moving to Brooklyn 5 years ago but I've been patient and I read lots of books until it just naturally happened. I'm sure you're more socially adept than me so you'll be fine.
I haven't had luck meeting friends at bars (in any city); friends that I've made have usually been at parties at people's houses so get yourself invited to some of those!
(If you ask me, Craigslist seems like sort of a decrepit place to meet people but I've never really tried it so...)
And my friend is having an art opening / party in Queens on Friday -- feel free to tag along.
posted by Aghast. at 10:04 PM on April 10, 2006

Hey, if you're ever staying over in another city for a night or two in a row, post to MeTa ... You could be a travelling MeFi Meetup!

You can try getting involved in sports leagues. I've met some great people that way.

Don't use craigslist. It's a great place to find dates, a good place to find activities, but a poor place to randomly meet people.
posted by SpecialK at 8:46 AM on April 11, 2006

For vintage clothing - I recommend Cheap Jack's on Broadway just below 14th Street. It not actually super-cheap but has a really substantial collection.

I second the suggestion for NYCares. Once you've attended a one-time one hour orientation meeting, you can sign up for volunteer events on very short notice (I'm betting your schedule changes alot !) and the variety is astonishing.

Getting around the city can be intimidating, but it actually makes more sense than most cities since much of it is based on a grid. Getting a map so yo ucan visualize the whole city will be helpful - and please don't worry, you'll have a subway map in your head in no time.

One great area in Queens that should be easy to get to is Forest Hills. Quite a bit of good street life there. Try Cabana for fantastic Nuevo Latino food.

Another great indulgence in NYC. Very inexpensive manicures and pedicures. And pedicure chairs are a pretty good place to get chatty and make friends !
posted by AuntLisa at 11:51 AM on April 11, 2006

Thank you all so much for the tips and encouragement. It helped a lot! If you think of anything more please email me anytime, it is in my profile.
posted by thesiameseffect at 2:36 PM on April 11, 2006

If you go with any sort of personal ad or craigslist thing, just, well, avoid the phrase "lonely flight attendent." I guarantee it will provoke the wrong kind of attention (unless you are in an ultrasophisticated place like Metafilter, of course).
posted by nanojath at 9:18 PM on April 11, 2006

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