Be assertive in lines at McDonald's, etc. Get on a line, step up promptly, don't hang around trying to be polite. We're all counting on you to look out for yourself--if it's your turn step up and speak up. You're actually more polite to us when you do so.
As for tourist-ing:
Have everyone make a list of the 3 things they really, really don't want to miss.
Then plot those all out on a SUBWAY map http://www.mta.info/maps/submap.html
Stuff is often located in little clusters, so you can figure out how to group them during your travels. But remember that walking can take longer than the subway, so look at how they related to one another by train.
Also know that the island of Manhattan is often best thought of as eastern/western halves.
Get the Michelin Green Guide. It has walking tours and info on the incidental buildings you might pass by--that's fun. Plus it will have info on prices for museums, hours, highlights, etc.http://www.amazon.com/Michelin-Green-Guide-York-City/dp/1907099611/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374443045&sr=8-1&keywords=michelin+green+guide+new+york
I actually have held onto one of my older Green Guides because I liked the format better, and I think some of the historical info is better. But all the prices, times, etc. are out of date.
"Avenue of the Americas" = Sixth Avenue (locals almost never use the AofA name)
Houston = House-ton
Soho = "south of Houston"
Noho = "north of Houston"
GET TICKETS AHEAD OF TIME for these things online:
-World Trade Center site (you cannot just walk by--and getting the tickets in advance can save you time)
-Statue of Liberty (we saved, I kid you not, probably 3 hours and just waltzed past the hugest crowd of people. The guy watching the line said, "who's the brainiac who saved you all that time? that was brilliant!"
-Empire State Building (ditto--HUGE time savings)
Don't forget the time it takes to wait in line--esp. the Empire State Building. Even with the tickets it was a huge wait.
I never take visitors shopping in NYC--there isn't THAT much available here that's not find-able elsewhere. It used to be unusual, but my experience is that it's not that much different.