"They were told [by supervisors] to take off routes [and] not do the plowing of some of the major arteries in a timely manner. They were told to make the mayor pay for the layoffs, the reductions in rank for the supervisors, shrinking the rolls of the rank-and-file."
Ignoring my parent company’s emails permitting me to stay home, I came into work yesterday not to prove myself as a dedicated employee, but to challenge myself Snowpocalypse style – much like that time Mr. Edwards trekked through a deadly blizzard to bring the Ingalls family gifts on Christmas Day. Knowing full well that the MTA service would be iffy at best, I walked outside and began my icy and bootless journey from Brooklyn to Times Square. The stairways leading underground were death traps, but with my sneakers doing more than they ever bargained for, I survived and boarded the train - riding it (after a transfer or two) into the city. I emerged on 42nd Street surrounded by business owners shoveling snow on the sidewalk and plows churning through the sludge so the Grey Line tour busses could continue mistaking me for a tourist in need of a day pass. There were a few patches here and there that hadn’t been cleared for pedestrians, but the majority of my short walk to work was done with sole touching concrete.
After returning to my neighborhood later that day, I decided to continue walking and run a few errands. Despite predicting that the businesses would be closed, I walked to their locked, inaccessible doors anyway and turned around not with frustration, but contentment. And it was all because of the snow shovels.
As inhabitants or owners of buildings shoveled their segment of sidewalk, eventually the entire path was visible again. Sure, it was narrow, but they could walk on it, I could walk on it, and so could anyone else who happened to be stupid enough to come outside. I’ll admit, my being from Texas is most certainly responsible for the wide-eyed fascination with which I walk through the cleared valley of a snowy public sidewalk, but I do believe there’s something remarkable about it. I fully understand that yes, in most cases the shoveling was the practical (if not essential) thing to do. Business owners needed their doors opened and accessible for their customers. Apartment and home owners needed their doors opened and accessible for their residents. Perhaps that’s all they had initially considered, but after putting that shovel down and looking at dozens of people down the street doing the same, there must have been that moment of personal pride and appreciation for their neighbors. Or maybe there wasn’t. I’ve never shoveled snow in my life. I’ve actually heard that it’s an epic pain in the ass.
But the bewilderment remained. I walked down streets I had no part in cleaning and past businesses I had no intention of patronizing - all because of my neighbors’ work to keep them clear. For themselves. For their customers. And, at the bottom of the list, for me. So that we can all keep doing our jobs and living our lives after a hemorrhoid of a snowfall that has caused so much unpleasantness to so many people. This isn’t an endorsement of any social or political ideology, so take all those metaphors elsewhere, it’s just a “thank you” to whoever helped plow or shovel the snow over the past couple days. You’re all pretty awesome and I’d like to give you high fives, pats on the back, winks with finger gunshots, just plain winks, fist pumps, or whatever physical, verbal, or telepathic acknowledgment of appreciation you prefer.
“His eyes were very blue and very beautiful half hid away in the leathery seams of his face. As if there were something there that the hardness of the country had not been able to touch.”—Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing
“In all those old crises of the twenties, the thirties, the war - each one of them has left its traces on George, like an illness - what was terrible was the fear of annihilation. Now we have with us a far more terrible fear, the fear of survival.”—Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man
"Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow." > "Hang a shining star upon the highest bough."
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was written with the intention of being dreary; that’s what makes it the best Christmas song. Though I understand it’s situated in a genre of music focused on jingling, jangling and jolliness, trying to brighten the mood with a bunch of hooey about shining stars and boughs doesn’t change the fact that it’s a song about being away from the people you love on a day that’s all about being with them. “HYaMLC” gives such a huge punch in the gut because its central plea is based on the most minuscule sliver of hope - one that its singer is silently, though desperately struggling to maintain.
Avoid the shining stars and highest boughs at any cost.