Thursday, December 22, 2005

Transit Strikes, Blogging, and Christmas....

I will be in NY for the next few days and should resume semi-regular blogging by Tuesday or so.

In the meantime, ponder this:

For a day, maybe, it felt like a communal challenge, a dare to New Yorkers to demonstrate their pluck and ingenuity. But by yesterday, the reality of a transit strike had wiped away any sense that this was an adventure. It was an annoyance, a hardship, a source of suffering...

The economic burden was felt citywide, but there were other costs, too - hundreds of thousands of children missing school, commuters spending extra hours shuttling to work and back, and pervasive fear of how long this will go on.

"This should be our biggest week, but I had to shut down my business," said Olga Diaz, owner of Olga's Salon in the financial district in Lower Manhattan. "If it wasn't for the strike, I would be back to back, maybe 30 clients a day through here, but yesterday I had only one, and today only two. I could lose $3,000 worth of business this week."

The hairdressers in that shop, like Maria Lozano, earn only on commission. So no work, no pay. Ms. Lozano, who lives in Queens, was unable to get to work on Tuesday. So on Tuesday night, she left her children with her mother and went to her boyfriend's home on Staten Island. She commuted to work by ferry yesterday, but there was little to do.

"I still have to buy a lot of presents, and I'm stuck," she said. "I don't have any money."

Well, I would say that maybe just maybe Ms. Lozano might just be learning the First Noble Truth of Christmas: it doesn't go as planned, cannot be planned, and is so permeated by crass materialism and base instincts that to expect it to be anything other than disastrous is to court a severe letdown, whereas anything beyond a disaster has got to be enjoyable at least.

And so it is with my upcoming trip.

But first to Ms. Lozano I say, "Tear up that Christmas list." Free yourself.

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