Last week BMCC as well as many other NYC schools and businesses were closed due to the blizzard that swept through the tri-state area, and my Facebook feed lit up with a vitriolic anger at the thought that New York City, a city of pedestrians and strap hangers could be stopped by snow in the streets.
Yeah, I get it:
We’re New York. We don’t need cars. We survived 9/11! Hell, we survived the eighties! We’re not going to let snow shut us down!
…but really, what’s wrong with taking a snow day now and then. It doesn’t make us less of a city, in fact it makes us a healthier one. I think there’s something seriously wrong with our society when a snow day is seen as offensive. Americans have less holiday time than any country in Europe. In Europe they have no problem not going to work, and they seem all the better for it.
When I was working in London, I was confused by the concept of a “bank holiday”. Everything kept shutting down periodically for no apparent reason. I kept asking, “What are we celebrating exactly?” and I was met by blank stares. They tried to explain to me the way that you explain the obvious to foreigners that they weren’t celebrating anything…the banks we just closed.
“But this isn’t a bank.”
“Yes, but it’s still a holiday.”
Turns out that in 1871 and 1971 the banks of London got together and decided to take time off…for no real reason other than people need time off. It’s not a national holiday, but pretty much everyone takes off anyway. Why?
In Rome there was a museum we were supposed to go to for class, but we never got to go in. Not for lack of trying, we were there for three months, but every time we went we were told by the security guard, “Mi dispiace, this is the traditional day for museums to close” or “Mi dispiace, there was a train strike so the museum is closed” or “Mi dispiace, I do not know where everyone is…perhaps the park?”
When we got upset that necessary things just closed without warning, we were told “You should go to the park. It is a beautiful day.”
These people know how to take time off, relax, and just enjoy life. They barely need an excuse, so I’m not sure why we as New Yorkers are so upset when someone tells us, “Hey I know this is unexpected, but why don’t you take a break today?”
Oh, you’re upset that the 24-hour Starbucks around the corner is closed?
Well, that makes more sense. Your anger is justified, my friend. Go. Take to the streets and riot because you can’t get your caramel macchiato.
I’ll be on the couch having hot chocolate with my wife.