The Northeast was expecting the blizzard of the year last night, with predictions of epic snow accumulations. The NYC DOE announced public schools would be closed for today, and the city effectively rolled up the sidewalks at 11pm Monday night. A big deal. A very big deal. Buses were taken off the streets, the trains were shut down. I took these shots yesterday around 2PM, just as the storm was picking up.
My Facebook feed was filled with photos of empty grocery shelves and menus detailing who would be cooking what, whose schools had been canceled when, most people moaning about the snow, harrowing tales of 3 hour commutes home during rush hour, slipping and inching down the roads.
As it turned out, the storm hooked east, and we didn’t get slammed here in Manhattan. I think 6.5 inches in Central Park. Now my Facebook feed is filled with moaning and groaning about the inaccuracy of the weather predictions, how the mayor was paranoid and jumped the gun, inconvenience, no school, no work, blah blah blah. First of all, it’s weather. Regardless of how sophisticated the satellites have become, they’re called weather predictions for a reason. Second, a lot of areas were slammed–not far from each other, friends on Long Island were hit hard, some in NJ were, some weren’t. And those up North of us are still being pelted. Third, so what?
Yeah, I said it. How many of us are so important (outside of emergency workers, snow removal, hospital workers) that the world collapses and people die if we don’t get to work? How many truly believe that one snow day is going to make or break the children’s test scores? Yes, it was the wrong call in terms of how much snow we actually got here in the city. But what if they didn’t announce school closings yesterday, and we got as much snow as expected, and it was announced this morning? Well, then everyone would be complaining about the late notice, many scrambling to figure out child care. If they didn’t tell everyone to get off the roads last night? Everyone would be complaining about how long it’s taking the city to clean the streets, not to mention the inevitable accidents and cars stuck on the highways.
It was odd for the subways to be shut down, it’s true. But my first thought was for the homeless for whom the subway tunnels and trains provide a relatively warm and dry place to be during bad weather. Six inches of snow and thirty mile per hour winds has to feel like storm enough when you don’t have somewhere safe to shelter you.
Are we so entitled that inconvenience is prioritized over safety? Is it really so terrible to have a bonus day off? Many won’t be paid for this day off, it’s true, and that sucks. Many more will work extra hard, and/or extra hours to catch up later in the week. But, oh, wasn’t it delicious to sleep an extra hour or two today? To go play in the park, or cook something special, or play a game with the kiddos, or just stay warm and dry? We are the only “advanced” nation that doesn’t guarantee its citizens paid vacation time and/or paid holidays. Huffing and puffing about the inconvenience of weather seems to fit right in with that philosophy. If you don’t have a hill to trudge up backwards in the snow pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps on the way to work, find one! I don’t think anywhere in the US embodies that spirit more than New York. The show must go on, after all.
I walked through Central Park earlier, watched others walking their dogs, sledding, taking photos, and smiling. I didn’t hear one person complain about how miserable it was to have the day off, even though snow flurries started up again while I was there. And I saw plenty still at work: in small businesses, police cars, driving buses, building maintenance and doormen, running the snow plows, shoveling the walkways for brownstone owners, and yes, even delivering groceries. I really hope whoever couldn’t be bothered to wait on line with the rest of us peasants yesterday are giving big tips today.
And watching Art Child listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan with Husband this morning? Priceless.