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Campaigning in New York

March 22, 2010

An old campaign hand was talking to a young operative about the subtleties of campaigning upstate and down, and about the need for a statewide candidate to know the difference between class and crass.

“You can tell a lot about a guy by the way he gets the attention of a waitress in a diner.”


“You’re in a diner in Cortland, and you want to get your coffee cup refilled. What do you do?

“I don’t know. What?”

“You slid your empty coffee cup toward the edge of the table. The waitress will walk by in a minute and refill it.”


“But what do you do in diner on Long Island?”

“Something different?”

“You bet. You raise your arm above your head and snap your fingers, and when you have the waitress’ attention, you point to the cup.”


“But try snapping your fingers in an upstate dinner – people will think you’re an asshole.”

“Of course.”

“And see how effective sliding your cup to the edge of the table is in a downstate diner.”

“Now I get it.”

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