New Yorkers are a funny bunch. We can get impatient, short-tempered; we often appear callous or indifferent as we rush into the routines and responsibilities dictating our lives. But hit us with a crisis, and the vast majority of our ethnically rich mosaic rises to the occasion like a collective consciousness of transcendent higher-selves, who when awakened, mobilize will, wit, limb and spirit admirably, to meet the challenges of the moment.
This blizzard appears to have caught not just the city short in resources and manpower, but somehow managed to plow right past that special NY spiritedness that historically carries us through such crises. The impediments seemed to get the best of us this time around. Perhaps we were self-involved with holiday vacation with family and friends… let’s hope so… Or maybe it was the Bloombergian wheels on the trucks pulling the tale spin round and round, or the peculiar molecular weighted heaviness of this particular snowfall that made this accumulation harder to bear.
In this Great Blizzard of 2010, it seems the collective response of our good citizens was a discordant tonal series of anger, frustration, malarkey, saturation and abandonment. Maybe we’re just tired of being tall-talked, clinging to endless loops of recorded messages that never answer the question, of new and improved stream-lined services that have composted public service into rotted marquis and escalating monthly fees.
As I navigated through the everestian snow peaks of my Brooklyn neighborhood in new water-resistant boots and smart REI like layers, I couldn’t recall a time when I’d seen our streets left so desolate in a snowstorm. Not a plow truck in sight or ear-shot, no heroic bus drivers braving the inclement weather to get the stranded to safety, no policeman-momentarily ticketing quota free, offering pedestrians a helping hand.
The few drivers I saw would rather impatiently honk their profanities from the safety of their heated vehicles than lend a helping hand. Bundled neighbors fended for themselves-unless they were lucky enough to land illegals to shovel the drive and sidewalks. (What a great time for a snow border round-up. Oh, that’s right, we’re naturalizing them all now, well thank goodness for that, or we’d never shovel out of this mess!). I didn’t see one car stop to give a cold-wet-tired citizen trudging through the mountainous sludge a lift, not even for a couple of blocks. Actually, most were lucky not to get run over by the zealot kings of the four wheel drive. Where were we?!?
I’m hoping I just caught some random off-moments, in my new water-resistant boots, (that, by the way absorb about an hour’s worth of wetness before becoming totally saturated. Hey, the label never promised water-proof, some truth in advertising, though made in China I concede), and that somewhere out there in our great metropolis, people were doing what New Yorkers are known for; riding the storm, answering calls of distress with aplomb, clearing the way and moving on with our lives. The rest, G-d’s sunshine will dissolve in time… until next time.
The sinking feeling that perhaps we had devolved into “its every man for himself” – or that we’d collectively frozen others out of our hearts – left me icy and apprehensive and in a contemplative funk. G-d knows, we’d be justified. Our lives are really challenged these days. Take your pick: whole governments caving to terrorist demands, America losing it’s once lustrous stars of glory, freedom and the democratic way, economic pillars plummeting like Hollywood back-lots – swept away by winds of deceit and greed – a collapsing health care system where doctors’ Hippocratic oath has been Obamacized with a new. improved, hypocritic oath. (A preamble to future, real life, versions of Soilent Green?). Trust your doctor to help you find pathways to death in a time frame that works for the greater good of all! Or is it our jeopardized jobs that keep us feeling flighty and on edge- jobs that grow more mechanical and disinterested as we learn the more jolting personal side-effects of obsolescence, or is it the dissolution of social norms that are seriously compromising our families and values. Take your pick…we’re an American avalanche waiting to happen.
Though vulnerable and porous, we are a good people who need each other now more than ever. The power of who we are and what we can accomplish together is stronger than any challenges that present themselves. Our compassion will speak the loudest in the tales that our children and children’s children will retell till the end of time. Our humanity is our biggest asset as humans, and without it, we are but Babelian beasts uttering meaningless speech signifying nothing…