How to Behave In a New York Snowstorm


It snowed! And then it stopped. And now it’s cold. SO COLD. Which, you know, shouldn’t actually be such a big deal. We should all know how to conduct ourselves during the winter by now. We’re all adults. We’ve all chosen to live in a climate where (at least for now!) it has been known to snow. But so, why do people act like such assholes every single year when the city transforms, however briefly, into a winter wonderland? What is it about frozen water falling from the sky that turns people into absolute monsters? I don’t know! I’m going to blame it on all of you that came from warmer climes. Which means that I’m not blaming it on transplants from Ohio! Progress. But so, please, follow these brief rules of New York snowstorm (and post-snowstorm) etiquette and maybe then we can all just get along? Maybe?

1) How to Solve the Ethical Dilemma of Getting Deliveries: New York is a city with unparalleled service. It’s hard to explain to people who don’t live here how dependent one becomes on any kind of food that one could possibly want being delivered at any time of day or night. But so once a person is used to getting Thai food whenever the urge strikes, it’s hard to deny the impulse to order drunken noodles even though eight inches of snow are getting dumped on the very city streets that the delivery man will soon need to traverse. So here’s the thing. Think long and hard before calling in for delivery. Are you SURE you don’t have the fixings for grilled cheese? Are you POSITIVE there aren’t any packages of ramen lurking in the back of your cabinets? If not, go ahead and order, preferably from a place where the delivery man comes in a car. And then? Tip double what you’d normally tip. Yes, double. It’s the right thing to do. And then you can enjoy your food with a clear conscience.

2) How to Walk Your Dog In the Snow: There are so many wonderful things about having a dog. There’s the whole unconditional love thing, for one. Or maybe not! My dog, for example, is very conditional when it comes to who she loves in that, really, she only loves me. Which, let me tell you, feels really good. I’m trying my best not to fuck that up. But there’s also a downside, by which I mean that I have to walk her in bad weather, and sometimes dig around  in a snow drift with my hand covered in an inside-out plastic, valiantly searching for her steaming turds. But I do it because I love my dog, and also because I’m a decent (enough) citizen. However, sometimes I feel like I am all alone in this, because once the snow starts to melt? The sidewalks are COVERED in dog shit. Listen up New York dog owners, stop being such assholes and pick up your dog’s poop. It is the decent thing to do, and only sociopaths don’t. Stop being a sociopath.

3) To Shovel or Not to Shovel: We all enjoyed the photos of new mayor Bill de Blasio and his son, Dante, shoveling the sidewalk in front of their Park Slope home this morning, didn’t we? Sure. And the de Blasios had to shovel the sidewalk, because they own their house, and it’s the responsibility of all homeowners to keep their sidewalks clear. But do all homeowners do that? Absolutely not! If you are a homeowner, shovel your fucking sidewalk! And do it well. Don’t just half-ass it by pouring salt all over the ground and hoping that it will work. Which, also? Don’t over-salt the sidewalk! Do you know how painful that can be for dogs if it gets between their paw pads? Very fucking painful. And for all you smug renters out there who feel good about not having to shovel? Don’t be so fucking smug if you know your landlords won’t get the job done, and help out.  Because, in the words of the great George Costanza, we’re living in a society! Act that way.

4) Sledding Etiquette: I was just chatting with my colleague, Henry Stewart, who had returned from a quick jaunt to his local Bay Ridge sledding hill, and when I mentioned to him that I was compiling a list on abominable snowstorm behavior, he insisted that I include sledding hill etiquette, because, he had just been “watching these fucking psychopaths put everyone’s lives in danger.” So here’s all you need to know really. Watch where you’re fucking going, assholes. Do NOT walk back up the area of the hill where sledders are descending. Do NOT stand up on your sled and pretend to snowboard, because you will fall in front of someone else and they will crash and it will not be good. Plus, you look dumb. Sit down. No one cares that you once went snowboarding. Do NOT get impatient at little children on the sledding hill because you should not forget that what you are engaging in is essentially a child’s activity. On the other hand, do NOT let medium-sized or larger children get away with being assholes, because they should know better and are frequently the biggest psychopaths of them all.

5) Where to Walk During a Fucking Snowstorm: Let’s say the sidewalks on your street haven’t been shoveled and you realize that it’s much easier to walk in the recently plowed streets. That’s fine. It’s totally understandable actually. But do not think that just because you’re walking in the middle of the street that you have the right of way. You don’t. Cars will hit you. SNow plows will hit you. Walk to the side.

6) This Is Not Rain, You Don’t Need an Umbrella: I’m not the biggest believer in umbrellas even for rainstorms. It’s just water, you guys. But even so, I understand the use of umbrellas when it rains. But during a snowstorm? You’re probably already wearing a hat! What else does an umbrella even accomplish? All it does is take up precious sidewalk space and annoy everyone who you bump into because you’re clutching that umbrella so close to you that it makes it impossible for you to see anyone approaching. Seriously. DOn’t be a dick. Leave your umbrella at home, put a hat on, and enjoy yourself out there. It’s a fucking wonderland. Let it snow.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

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  1. Using an umbrella doesn’t make you a dick. Acting like a dick with an umbrella makes you a dick. I don’t wear hats, and a hat won’t keep the blizzard off my mascara. It also makes it less messy inside buildings/foyers if you have less to brush off when you go indoors. “Yes” to brollies!