Well, the last week of 2010 hit NYC with a mallet, with the Day After Christmas Blizzard and the horror stories that came after it. I suppose the pleasantry was short lived – you can have all the cooperation and Christmas spirit and good will and fun in the snow. Then, comes the crushing reality: if the city can’t get moving, then the city will bite you in the ass.
At least, I think the fine folk of City Hall and the MTA (so NOT going your way) are realizing that now.
On 12/26/10, I honestly thought I’d go to work on 12/27. Hey, it wasn’t like the mayor was calling for a snow day/state of emergency. Yeah, we had snow-mageddon/snowpocalypse back in February 2010 and it didn’t stop us (seriously: I was at work all day and I was so hoping to leave early, since I was frightened that I wouldn’t be able to get to south Brooklyn, due to my living in an subway line with an open-trench exposure to the weather; it ended up being more than fine. Sigh.).
Meanwhile, on Sunday, as I watched “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” on tv, the news became worse about the state of the snow. At some point, after the movie, I watched the non-stop snow coverage on the local tv. There’s something addictively entertaining watching the local reporters drag themselves in sometimes dangerous or amusing situations. NBC/Channel 4’s Brian Thompson brought out his (old-school wooden) ruler! ABC/Channel 7’s Phil Lipoff stuck in Red Hook, NJ, chatting to people leaving the bars after the Jets game. People were still shopping at Macy’s at Herald Square for Day After Christmas shopping. Greg Cergol on Channel 4 wore a nifty hat. Some reporters didn’t have hats! LIRR was in nasty conditions! Stay inside! The mayor had his one press conference that afternoon and everything seemed fine. Or so he said, anyway.
Then, the amusing part didn’t seem so amusing. I lost the cable/Internet/landline phone service, since Cablevision got knocked down for unknown reasons (weather-related? Who knows; no service for three days; had to enjoy my cell phone and regular HDTV). I hunkered on, watching “Sound of Music.”
Monday had no subway lines going out of Coney Island, so south Brooklyn was essentially stranded. I had a snow day, but the mayor (the “boss,” if you will) didn’t call it for me; Mother Nature did. It wasn’t like I would have gotten to the subway and if I did, no buses or subways were available. No plowed streets; I don’t think I had ever seen so much impassable streets in Bensonhurst.
Staying cooped up at home, actually feeling guilty to have to Monday off unintentionally (yeah, I felt guilty; how sick was that?), I continued to watch the non-stop coverage on the local news on my regular HDTV (no NY1 without cable, after all). Anger arose: how do you have no subways? Where were the plows? Yes, it’s lovely to see NBC Channel 4’s Katy Tur at Columbus Circle, where people were playing in the snow or seeing ABC Channel 7’s Kemberly Richardson at 23rd Street/Madison Ave., where it was hard to walk but did not look as ridiculous as it did in my neck of the woods.
But, then the afternoon wore on and seeing Channel 4’s John Noel in a very impassable looking Park Slope in Brooklyn, and you’ve got to start wondering how people in Manhattan seemed to be a little less inconvenienced than the rest of us outside Manhattan. Brooklyn Boro President Marty Markowitz finally got to ask: while he was not going to knock on the mayor and Dept. of Sanitation, what was going on here?
The mayor’s press conference on that Monday afternoon seemed to strike the note of: the city’s operating as expected. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but take mass transit, enjoy a Broadway show. It’s a near-normal Monday.
Seriously? Not really. When the subways aren’t running (except for the R, which is completely underground), don’t expect me to believe that it’s normal. When only two people of a city agency unit managed to get to work, don’t tell me that the city’s operating as usual. Don’t tell me to take mass transit when there is no mass transit! I walked around my neighborhood just to see how bad was bad; it was bad when the snow was past my knees.
By 5pm, I checked out Eyewitness News on ABC Channel 7. David Navarro (who I haven’t seen in awhile; not that I’ve been that dedicated a viewer of Channel 7) was at Ovington Avenue – Bay Ridge-ish/Dyker Heights-ish. Stranded cars. No plows. Navarro began the specter of asking: hmm, this is starting to look like 1969 and the Lindsay thing, right? (paraphrasing Navarro).
Mayor John Lindsay and the snow-bound Queens – the thing that haunted his administration, no matter its ideals. Lindsay’s handling of that snow set the bar for NYC mayors since. Did Bloomberg met the challenge?
Well, the analyses and investigations are still unfolding. This NY Times article was pretty illuminating for how short-sighted NYC and MTA were. Juan Gonzalez of the Daily News questions the workings of Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith.
Honestly, as much as we could blame the workers (and there have been plenty of complaints about the Sanitation and MTA workers), it’s the management and their ideas and actions that bother me. Morale is as bad as it is because of something other than any worker’s own bad attitudes or sour personality.
Plus, was it wise for the mayor to promise streets plowed at least once by Thursday, 7am? Clearly: not really. My own block didn’t get plowed until after 2pm on Thursday and there are streets that are still horrific, even after one plow attempt, needing one of those frontloader trucks and much more work before blacktop could be seen.
Honestly, message to the mayor: some promises shouldn’t be made without some actual – I don’t know, let’s call it “certainty” – which ain’t gonna happen in a blizzard that was either as bad as expected (by the meteorologists) or as unexpected (by the very government that’s supposed to serve us).
Are New Yorkers whining too much? Does the Internet make that too easy to do? Yes, on both counts. But, then again: we’re New Yorkers. Complaining is what we do. And, so is trying to get around and expecting the government to do something. The city handled past storms well; maybe we got spoiled? Even so – what made this one so bad? The combination of bad storm, low morale of workers, poor management, and the stupidity of drivers who thought that they could chance and got stranded with their cars, blocking the plows? I doubt it was one factor.
I wasn’t surprised by the mayor’s tactlessness; I’m surprised by how surprised some voters are about it (saying that you’re a supporter of him and then “shocked” by this: please! This is exactly what you get, voters! Maybe I am setting my bar of expectations too low, but I’d like to think I’m being pragmatic or even a tad realistic).
Do More With Less is a mantra that can’t work and when lives were at stake, it gets disheartening. Let’s hope that we’ll learn our lessons before the next snowpocalypse (and it’ll happen – we’re in a state of climate change).
At least: Dogs had fun in the snow; soooo cute! And, if you are able to get around the city (and with this nice weekend, yes!) – from us at triscribe to you: NY Times’ Frugal Traveler Seth Kugel spends a $100 weekend in…NYC! Yep, it is possible to not go overboard in town. Kugel described a really good time, I must say. And, the NY Giants – can we still have hope for them as the new year arrives? Can we have hope for anything?
Let’s hope for the best for the new year. Maybe.