Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Leo Martinez spent a backache-inducing 40 minutes on Thursday clearing 19 inches of snow from the roof and windows of his S.U.V., in the winter wonderland that was East Tremont in the Bronx. It was hard work, but it was costing him, too: He had to pay the two men helping him dig out his car $10 each.“My baby is sick at home, and we’re trying to get her to the doctor,” Mr. Martinez, 31, said. “It’s one of those days where everything is going wrong: the snow, the baby, the commute.”
Margie Perez, a secretary at an accounting firm who lives in Castle Hill in the Bronx, took a vacation day, if you could call it that. “I walked all the way from Seward Avenue to the Bruckner Expressway to catch the express bus,” she said, “and I had to walk all the way home because there was no bus.”
The difference between Manhattan and the rest of the city is so ingrained in the local psyche that residents of the other four boroughs are more likely to take pride in, rather than offense at, the notion that they live in a different New York City. But rarely have those two New Yorks felt more different than in the last 34 days.
New Yorkers in Manhattan have mostly had their building superintendent shovel out their stoops and sidewalks. New Yorkers in Bayside, Queens, have had to do it themselves, using shovels and another tool foreign to apartment-dwellers in Manhattan: electric or gas-powered snow blowers. New Yorkers in Manhattan walked to the subway, which ran smoothly for the most part there, or took a cab. New Yorkers in Flatlands, Brooklyn, or in nearby Mill Basin — where the closest subway is two miles away on some blocks — shoveled the stoop, and then the sidewalk, and then the driveway out back that leads to the garage. New Yorkers in Manhattan were often late for work. New Yorkers elsewhere had to burn vacation days.
After the December blizzard, the office of Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, received hundreds of complaints of unplowed streets from Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island, but only a few from Manhattan. The city’s performance improved markedly on Thursday, with only 26 complaints to Mr. de Blasio’s office, three of those from Manhattan.
But the difference in the snow experience goes beyond how Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg or city agencies reacted to it. In much of Manhattan, the snow has been a general inconvenience, an amusement, perhaps by now a bore. In much of Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island, it has had specific consequences, none of them entertaining or boring.
Joseph McDermott, a truck driver who lives in Pelham Bay in the Bronx, could not pick up the used car he had recently bought. (“I want to move to Florida,” he said.) Linda DelGaudio, a speech teacher, spent the public school system’s ninth snow day since 1978 clearing out her brother’s car on Avenue O in Brooklyn. (“I’m glad the plows are coming through, but I wish they could just take it away instead of plowing over where you just dug out,” she said.)
Peter Hristodoulias, 56, a hot dog and shish kebab vendor, dug out his wife’s car on 42nd Avenue in Bayside, Queens. His wife, a housekeeper at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children, made the 40-minute walk to work in the morning when no buses were running. She had wanted to stay home, Mr. Hristodoulias said, but the snowfall had hurt his business and they needed the money. “I’ve lost $1,300 in profit,” he said.
Wilfredo Figueroa, 20, stood at Crotona Avenue in East Tremont waiting for a Bx17 bus for 20 minutes and counting at one point Thursday. He had to go to Fordham University, where he works as a cook.
Everyone waits as New York digs itself out of a big snowstorm. Mr. Bloomberg had to wait, too.
“I had to wait a whole minute and a half before the train came that I took downtown,” the mayor said at a news conference at City Hall on Thursday. “And everybody on the train seemed in a good mood.”
The Upper East Side block where Mr. Bloomberg lives had been plowed Thursday morning. The Bayside block where Frank Inzirillo parked his three cars had not. Mr. Inzirillo, 32, took a personal day from his job as a background-check investigator because his cars were buried on 210th Street. “Even if I dig out my cars, there’s a foot and a half of snow on the ground,” he said. “Where am I going to go? It means I’ll have to cram in a bunch of 15-hour days.”
When people who live outside New York think of the city, they think of the glamour and bustle of Manhattan. They do not think of this: Two men on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn shoveling out a car sitting atop so much snow it appeared as if it had been raised up on a jack, as a van with Georgia plates double-parked next to them blared that Celine Dion ballad from the movie “Titanic.” The men took their time.
Blocks away, Carmine Zummo, 76, leaned on a shovel outside his house on East 56th Street in Flatlands. A neighbor, Sabrina Bacchus, had done most of the work for him, shoveling his walkway and part of his driveway. Mr. Zummo, a retired teamster, was clearing the patch of pavement behind his car. “This was a real bad one,” he said of the storm. “Now there’s one coming Saturday. Come around again. We’ll talk again. Maybe I’ll give you a shovel.”
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