Wondering what’s happened to me? Me, too. I’ve found it harder and harder to come here, to find things to say. Or, more accurately, to find a way to say all the things I’m thinking about. The new project I’m taking on at work is big and important and fabulous … but I can’t really talk about it. I could, I suppose, but it would tell too much about me, would remove the last bit of anonymity I’ve managed to maintain here. But I want to talk about it, and holding myself back has translated into holding myself back entirely. Surely there’s some happy medium between telling all and complete silence. Not sure why it’s so hard for me to find it.
Right now I’m waiting to see how long before the city figures out that “the city” encompasses more than the borough of Manhattan. I came home last night from spending the holidays with my mother and sister. I’d been worried about road conditions between Maryland and New York, but the drive was practically effortless. Getting a cab to take me out to Brooklyn, however … that was another thing. It took me almost an hour to find a driver willing to brave the unplowed wilds of my home borough. And in the end, the driver who agreed to take me agreed with a warning: if we got closer to my house and found the streets were impassable, I’d have to get out and walk. But then he softened and said he’d find a place to pull over and help be get to my door.
I thought he was being foolish. This is New York City, after all. We understand snow. We deal with it every year. We deal with it when it comes fast and heavy. We deal with it no matter what. So we got almost two feet in Sunday’s storm. No problem.
Except, it’s a huge problem. The closer we got to my neighborhood, the less good the roads were looking. We turned onto one of the big avenues that lead to my block, and it was barely passable. It hadn’t been plowed, but people had driven through it enough times to create a car path. The side streets we passed — as my driver was quick to point out — hadn’t seen a plow, either. Some were clogged with snowed-in cars. I was going to suggest that he drop me when we recahed the intersection with my street (if the avenue wasn’t plowed, no way my street would be) but then we saw that someone had pulled a line of garbage cans across the avenue ahead of us: a warning that the road wasn’t drive-able beyond that point. I wondered how he would get out. Would he have to back down the avenue and hope no one was behind him? Would he have to add his cab to the cars I saw stuck on the snowed-in side streets? I regretted my insistence on taking a cab home. (Though how else I’d have gotten home, I don’t know. No way I could have walked from the subway, and there were no buses running.)
But then we reached the corner and saw that my street had a car path, too. He turned onto my block and spent the next five minutes trying to find a place to let me out where I could a) reach the sidewalk from the street and b) reach my front gate from the sidewalk. There were several paths carved through the snow to the sidewalk, but there were walls of snow between houses, blocking cleared patches of sidewalk from one another. Finally, he got out of the car, and found a good crossing for me, put my bag on the sidewalk and helped me get there, too.
I tipped him well and wished him a happy new year … then went inside shaking my head. What’s up with all that? How could it be days after the storm and things still be so totally out of whack? Because, you know, like I said: this is New York City. We understand snow. We deal with it every year. We deal with it when it comes fast and heavy. We deal with it no matter what.
Except that, somehow, this time around we didn’t. Just really, truly didn’t. I heard clips of the Mayor saying how everything was fine because Broadway shows were full and tourists were in town enjoying themselves. Clips of him saying clean-up was in progress and yelling about the pace of that progress wasn’t going to help anything. What? What? Yeah, I’m not totally surprised. Mayor Bloomberg is nothing if not completely out of touch with the reality of ordinary life in this (or any other) city. But really? Was he serious? Can he really not understand why the lack of plowing and snow removal outside of Manhattan is an issue? I heard another clip of him saying something insane about how there are a lot of streets in the city, that there are some streets that aren’t even on the map. Excuse me?
No. I’m being too hard on the Mayor, aren’t I? Ok, so there are some mysterious, unmapped streets. Fine. Don’t plow them right away. Don’t plow them until you discover them. What about all the streets that are on the map? Like all the ones in my neighborhood, thank you. I live on a bus route. The avenues that bookend my block are bus routes (as are 11 of the 13 avenues that run perpendicular to my street and 3 of the 10 side streets that run parallel to mine). Surely some effort should be made to clear the bus routes so that people have some means of moving through the city that, for some unclear reason, you chose not to put on snow emergency.
Can’t reach the subway. The buses aren’t running. But the city is just fine because there are tourists having a snow holiday in mid-town Manhattan? Really?
Here’s hoping we see some plows soon … and that this little fit of pique I’ve subjected you to will trigger a lifting of the gag order I’ve placed on myself and get me back to writing again.