Weathermen have been all agog at the latest snow emergency to hit the NY metro area. Throughout Thursday they exhilarated in the pending white out, forecasting as much as two feet of snow for some areas by the time all the flakes made their way to the ground.
Up in White Plains, by 9 pm it was pretty much a snow dud. Not even half an inch had accumulated. Not that I’m complaining (long time readers already are aware of my antipathy toward snow). But giving the weathermen their due respect, and with snow still coming down, I casually suggested to Gilda that perhaps she might take a snow day Friday.
No way, she fired back. She wasn’t going to waste a day off on some rinky-dink snow job. It would take a real blizzard to keep her home.
I used to think the same way. As a reporter back in Connecticut nearly 40 years ago, I felt obligated to get out and observe how snow transformed people’s lives. When I started working in Manhattan for a restaurant trade newspaper, I carried with me that same machismo. Thus, in January 1978, after a 20-inch snowstorm, I trudged down Hamilton Avenue from our Lake Street apartment to the White Plains Metro North train station. I got there in plenty time for my normal 8:18 am transport. The train obliged by arriving on time. I sat down for the usual 35 minute commute. Four hours later, the train pooped out in the tunnel beneath Park Avenue. Snow had fallen through the grates, blocking all trains from entering Grand Central Terminal.
We couldn’t move forward or back up. Metro North decided our only exit was vertical. They directed all on board to carefully climb down onto the tracks and ascend one of the emergency staircases, taking us up to Park Avenue and 72nd Street. From there I walked 15 blocks to my office building at 425 Park Avenue, only to discover that the office was closed. After a few minutes to thaw out, I was back on the street, mushing my way down to Grand Central, 13 blocks to the south, all the way hoping there would be a train back to White Plains.
I was lucky. Double lucky. A train was set to depart momentarily, and I had secured a seat. Four hours later it pulled into White Plains. I had spent more than nine hours commuting in the snow. I vowed to be more circumspect in future snowstorms.
I had my chance two weeks later when another 20-inch storm struck. This time I sought assurance that our office would be open. I called our VP administration who, by coincidence, commuted on my same train each day. He daily drove down to White Plains from Ridgefield, Conn. If anyone would be a no-show, Mike surely would lead the pack. But his wife cheerfully reported that Mike had set off for work. I reasoned I had better show up, as well.
Once again, I trudged down Hamilton Avenue from our Lake Street apartment to the White Plains Metro North train station. I got there in plenty time for my normal 8:18 am transport. The train obliged by, once again, arriving on time. I sat down for the usual 35 minute commute. Once again, four hours later, the train came to a stop. This time, it had made it all the way into Grand Central. I engaged a pay telephone (this was pre-cell phone days), called the office and discovered it was, once again, closed!
Once again, I was lucky. Double lucky. A train was set to depart momentarily, and I had secured a seat. Once again, four hours later it pulled into White Plains. Once again, I had spent more than a full day commuting in the snow. This time, I came to the realization that snow was God’s way of telling me to slow down, that work could be done at home just as easily as in the office. I soon garnered a well-deserved reputation for taking a snow day for anything more than a dusting.
If Gilda wants to be a trooper and go to work, God bless her. As for me, I no longer go to work, but I still relish snow days.