2006_06_greetings.jpgSomehow, perhaps due to a rip in the time-space continuum, Reader's Digest found that New York City is the world's most polite city. Not that Gothamist doubted the friendliness or kindness of our fellow residents, but nailing an 80% in the Reader's Digest Courtesy Test, over say, Toronto (77%)? Or Sydney (a paltry 47%)? And what was the courtesy test?

The routine in New York was similar to the one followed elsewhere: Two reporters -- one woman and one man -- fanned out across the city, homing in on neighborhoods where street life and retail shops thrive. They performed three experiments: "door tests" (would anyone hold one open for them?); "document drops" (who would help them retrieve a pile of "accidentally" dropped papers?); and "service tests" (which salesclerks would thank them for a purchase?). For consistency, the New York tests were conducted at Starbucks coffee shops, by now almost as common in the Big Apple as streetlights. In all, 60 tests (20 of each type) were done.

Along the way, the reporters encountered all types: men and women of different races, ages, professions, and income levels. They met an aspiring actress, a high school student, a hedge-fund analyst and two New York City police officers. And guess what? In the end, four out of every five people they encountered passed RD's courtesy test -- making New York the most courteous city in the world. Imagine that.

Hilariously, only 55% of New Yorkers picked up the dropped documents (NYers don't like to stoop so much?). But if this courtesy test had been at, oh, a movie theater, concert, or sample sale, we're sure the city would have bombed.

Take this time to revel in being a bunch of polite people and do something nice - give up your seat on the subway to someone who needs it more, pick up your dog's poop or maybe even say hi to your neighbor. Or write a thank you note - The Morning News on how to write them.