A few weeks ago, New York City had its second biggest snow storm on record. Now, I’ve been in New York for some other snow storms that I didn’t think were handled all that well but I assumed even the best of us make mistakes. I wasn’t going to label New York as incapable of dealing with snow using such a small sample size. Now, though, I’m ready to use that label.
In the immediate aftermath of the storm, I saw a lot of people trying to drive their cars out of parking spots without any shoveling. Most of these cars got stuck and people just left them angled out 45 degrees into the street. “Idiots,” I thought, “all of them, idiots.”
Later that day I walked by my kitchen window and looked down at three boys trying to dig an SUV out of a parking spot. So far, so good, they were actually doing some shoveling. However, they were heaving shovel-fills of snow into the middle of the street. Their mess extended to the center line of the road, was a foot high, and the length of a car. “Idiots,” I thought, “all of them, idiots.”
Cars would approach the street-snow and slow to a stop. The kids would insist that people drive over it. Most people waited until it was safe to drive on the opposite side of the street to go around the snow. (For the record, I would not have driven over this snow either.) Some people yelled at the kids, they didn’t seem to understand the problem.
After a little while of this, the kids tried to drive the SUV out of the spot. They shifted the vehicle from reverse and to drive over and over, trying to strong-arm the car out of the spot they hadn’t really cleared (despite all the snow they threw into the middle of the road). Then they gave up and left. What? They didn’t even need to get it out? The SUV sat in that spot for a week. I kept track. “Idiots,” I thought, “all of them, idiots.”
A few days went by and my precious Q train went under construction; the MTA had temporarily replaced my subway with a shuttle bus. I went over to the snow-covered sidewalk where the bus would stop and it was being cleaned up by MTA maintenance workers. Armed with shovels, they were scooping up ice and snow, then heaving it into the middle of the street. Over and over they did this, sometimes directly in front of cars, causing them to slow down or−in a few cases−stop altogether. These were professionals. “Idiots,” I thought again, “all of them, idiots.”