For Many Workers, Staying Home Is Not an Option During Blizzard

Ian Pajer-Rogers |

From The New York Times:

by Rick Rojas and Emily Palmer

There were the workers who boarded a Manhattan-bound subway train before sunrise in boots and denim shirts, looking for a place to sit between the men sprawled out and sleeping on the benches who had no other place to spend the night.

There was the bartender waiting and waiting at a bus stop in Queens who was considering giving up and calling his boss to say he could not come in. And there was the superintendent of an apartment building who is usually off on Saturdays but was outside the building, the wind hitting his face, as he tried and failed to make a dent with his shovel in the accumulating snow.

“The snow took my day off,” said Krzysztof Prostko, 58, who had been working at the building on the Upper West Side since 7 a.m.

For many, the storm could not be more perfectly timed. The snow started falling in force early Saturday, making for a weekend of bundling up at home and catching up on novels neglected on the bedside table or working through a backlog of films on Netflix. School was not a concern, and for many 9-to-5 professionals, neither was work.

But this is New York City, where the grind never stops.

On the streets on Saturday, pushing their way through wind-driven snow, were police officers and snowplow drivers, restaurant workers and store clerks — all headed to work, if not already on the job. For them, staying in was not an option.

In the morning, Melanie Castillo, a registered nurse, waited in the snow on 96th Street and Broadway for a crosstown bus that would take her to work at a pediatric clinic on Lexington Avenue. She had come from the Bronx.

Ms. Castillo, 26, was scheduled for a 12-hour shift. “Hopefully, we’ll close early,” she said. “I don’t want to get stuck there.”

At the same bus stop, Rick Azar, who works in real estate, was running late for an appointment. He had a meeting scheduled for 8 a.m. with clients to show them a property in Harlem. He checked his watch: 8:02. His bus still had not come.

“They were supposed to leave today, but I doubt that will happen,” Mr. Azar, 58, said of the clients, who were visiting the city from Savannah, Ga. “And with this weather, we’ll see if they come back.”

Umberto Soto, who works at a liquor store on the Upper West Side, had been fielding orders from customers all morning. Some of them were only a few blocks away. “We’re so close,” Mr. Soto said, “but they still want it delivered.”

But he could not be too critical. He had ordered a delivery of his own: coffee and a breakfast sandwich from a 24-hour Mexican restaurant nearby.

“Are you riding your bicycle today?” Mr. Soto, 58, speaking in Spanish, asked the delivery man.

“No,” the man replied, rubbing his gloved hands together. “Today, I’m walking.”

At the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus on the Upper West Side, Jason Garcia, 29, was part of the maintenance crew tasked with the futile job of clearing the rapidly falling snow. “Every chance you got to get inside, you’d go warm up, then head back out,” he said, wiping the snow from his gloves.

Read the full article from The New York Times.