Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow Joke

Yea, I oldie but very appropriate today.
By now, you no doubt are aware that NYC woke this morning under a blanket of snow. It's not the most snow we've ever had, not even the worst snow we've had in the past three years, but it was, by far, the worst storm we've had in the past decade.
Not so much the snowfall amounts. A foot, foot and a half was the average around the area, with one or two places checking in with closer to two feet.
It wasn't the cold. In fact, it was practically balmy during the day. I was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans to shovel.
It wasn't even so much the wind, which while sustained and gusts averaged into the 40 mph range, was not the worst we've had during a snow storm in this century.
The worst part?
The timing.
It started Sunday afternoon. The day after Christmas, a time when people were hunkered down in holiday hangover, watching football or making a hot meal for the family. The snow started in the late morning, slowly, maybe an inch every two hours. That was easy to keep up with, no problem.
It wasn't until later in the afternoon that the worst of the snow started, coupled with the wind. By five PM, the snowfall rates had doubled and even tripled. I had been trying to stay ahead of the storm by shoveling every two hours. By nine PM, I threw in the towel (you can visit my Flickr account for photos from last night and this morning), literally.
I had already shoveled about six inches of snow, the very fine sugar powder that we rarely get on the east coast during a coastal storm.
I went to bed, confident that I had tackled sufficient amounts of snow to make Monday morning a lot easier.
Fool that I am.
I woke up around 4:30, and looked out the window.
Or rather, I tried. The window was coated with wind-blown snow. I put on some slippers and walked down to the sidewalk. I opened the front door to the building.
There was about a foot and a half of snow piled up against it, drifted in from the vicious wind that was still howling outside.
I closed the door and shuddered, walked back upstairs, had a hot coffee and got dressed. By five I was in my shoveling gear. The tempratures were much colder, well below freezing, and the wind was unabated.
I stepped into the fray. Another eighteen inches had, in fact, drifted onto the sidewalk, and the curious rules of NYC snow removal is, sidewalks have to be clear (that's to the curb, by definition) by eleven AM. Worse, my office had not closed, despite my fervent wishes and frequent curses. I had to go to work. And to add a note of comedy, there was a gas leak in the street, Con Ed had been working on it until the crew deemed it was too dangerous to finish, and so the stench of gas permeated the air around me.
The comedy bit? Some asshat had tried to drive down the street and gotten stuck, preventing the plows from getting thru, preventing Con Ed from returning. I kept thinking it was a good thing I won't need an ambulance, and if there is a God, that driver will get arrested for some crime or other.
So there I am, sniffing air that smelled like it belonged in a fraternity house, shoveling enough snow that I created a mound seven feet high, and still had barely done half the job. In two hours. I was going to be late for work. And I hadn't tackled the really tough job of digging out my garage.
See, in NYC, garage space is hard to come by, and expensive. Landlords know they have it over the renters and are under no obligations to provide snow removal (private-yet-communal driveways off-street). A driver has to dig his own car out if he rents a garage. To top that off, none of the communal landlords ever had the birght idea to pool money and get a plowing service to just sweep thru, thus making what would be a commonsense but free market decision to take care of the problem in one fell swoop.
By eight I had finished the sidewalk. By nine I had another hot coffee and grabbed my shoveling gear and headed to the garage. I was going to be late for work, of course, and called in to let them know. I left a voicemail.
As I climbed over snowbank after snowbank to get to the garage, I had the sinking feeling that, in fact, no one had shoveled any of the garages out, which means even if I did clear mine, I'd never get my car out until spring thaw. Sadly, this was true, but more sadly, I needed to dig my garage out anyway, because it will only get worse as the week drags out, as asshat after asshat drives over the snow (if they even can!) reducing it to solid ice. I won't need a shovel. I'll need a chisel.
By ten thirty, I had finished my work. By noon, I was in the office, doped on oxycodone and still without breakfast.
All for want of a boss with a heart, a storm with a better sense of timing, and me, without the good sense to have moved to the tropics.