Political Rules of Accomplishment

My son who lives in New York City had some confusion with his landlord.

I’m from New York, and have had some experience in how these things are handled (in New York).

I call the landlord (I’m thinking, most likely a “tough cookie”) and pull a “New Yorker.” I open with the “conversation” screaming. He screams back. We’re both screaming at the same time.

The landlord says, “You want to scream first, and then I’ll scream.”

I say, “Sounds good.”

2-5 minutes later, we’re actually laughing, and finding out what’s going on in each other’s lives.

The “rules” are clear, the “New Yorker” thing is “understood.”

Imagine this happening in the often “buttoned-up,” New England, Yankee town of Newburyport, MA. Oy veh.

I got pulled over a while ago by a policeman, who felt I was being too aggressive in trying to enter the rotary, at Route 1 and State Street, coming into town.

I couldn’t imagine what in the world I could have done, when the policeman pulled me over. And when I found out, I explained to the young man, that even though I had lived here 25+ years, Massachusetts rotaries could be somewhat baffling and sometimes, somewhat scary.

The policeman, actually sounded sympathetic and proceeded to tell me how to ease into traffic in a rotary. This actually helped. (They don’t give you these sort of instructions when you move here.)

Here, the rules of accomplishment are often “Yankee tight lipped calm.”

Could you imagine if I pulled a “New Yorker” (of course they don’t have rotaries in New York, so it sort of doesn’t apply). I started screaming, he started screaming, and then we would laugh, and then I would learn about the “this is how you do the rotary thing.”

No, I think if I had pulled a “New Yorker,” I probably would have been arrested for who knows what.

And in politics in Newburyport, MA, it’s a little bit like the same idea. You gotta figure out the rules of achievement. And it ain’t always easy.

Most of the time it’s not bad idea to do some version of the “tight lipped, New England, Yankee thing.”

But every now and again, it’s Ok to pull out a full out “New Yorker.”

But if you pull out that political, full out “New Yorker” thing, and the “tight lipped Yankee” thing was what was needed. Boy, oh boy, are you ever in a whole lot of trouble. Big backfire city.

And I still maintain that politics in Newburyport, MA could be a “contact sport.” And it also pays to be, “wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove.”

Mary Eaton