The world of work during Boston’s record breaking winter

The lovely walk home from the subway, earlier this month

The lovely walk home from the subway, earlier this month, Jamaica Plain, Boston (Photo: DY)

With a bit of the white stuff falling upon us on Sunday evening, we did it: Boston broke its all-time record for snowfall! That’s 108.6 inches of snow, breaking the previous record of 107.6 inches during 1995-96. Oh boy, it’s time to celebrate, yes?! Like when the Patriots won the Super Bowl, or when the Red Sox won the World Series. Hip hip hooray!


Folks, this has been a brutal winter here. And it has wreaked havoc on the world of work.

The economic effect has been especially harsh on wage workers who either couldn’t get to work or found their places of employment closed down while the city dug out from the latest mega-storm. It also has been very harsh on retail businesses who depend on pedestrian foot traffic to buy goods and services.

If you’re in real estate, the market, well, kinda froze. After all, it’s hard to host an open house or a showing when the roads and public transportation are shut down.

Public workers involved in snow removal and public transportation had their work cut out for them. If you drove one of the city’s plow trucks during the four worst weeks of January and February, I wonder if you were ever permitted to leave your vehicle. Boston’s public transit system took some well-deserved criticisms, but the rank-and-file workers who helped to get things moving again deserved much praise.

There were multiple days when just about everything was shut down. How many thousands of meetings, appointments, and just about every other type of face-to-face event were cancelled during this time?

God have mercy on anyone who worked in customer service at Logan Airport.

Those of us who teach experienced unprecedented numbers of snow days. The first snow day was really cool. The second one, still a bit of a novelty. And then it got old fast. In higher ed, we’re doing make-up classes whenever we can squeeze them in. K-through-12 educators probably will be in their classrooms until August! (Just kidding, but only slightly.)

If you own a plow truck and a snowblower, you may have made a mint doing freelance jobs, like the guys who picked up a quick wad of cash from me when I realized that I could shovel for 12 hours and barely make a dent. Same thing if you did snow and ice removal from roofs. However, my guess is that you had your fill of that work even with the extra cash.

Maybe it’s the Cancerian in me talking, but I believe that someday, we’ll look back at this winter with a sort of fond nostalgia. Or maybe I’m just being delusional. Whatever, we’ll see.

Looking down my street at what is supposed to be the sidewalk, during one of the February blizzards, Jamaica Plain, Boston. (Photo: DY, 2015)

Looking at what is supposed to be the sidewalk alongside my building, during one of the February blizzards, Jamaica Plain, Boston. (Photo: DY, 2015)

4 responses

  1. What if the climate change is working this way: Whatever your normal climate is, you are now getting it multiplied by ? spades! It has been down right HOT in No Cal this weekend. Today was easier to breathe but yesterday bordered on miserable. You get MORE SNOW, we get MORE HEAT. It’s not even Spring yet and we’re HOT, like Summer. It’s almost Spring (this coming Friday) and you guys are in the midst of Winter. Brrrrr. Gee, do we think we can make the case for climate change yet?? I hear no one in Florida will even consider the possibility. Not sure about that but the doubters remain. Yes, there’s room for diversity. Also room for stupidity. Oh well, so it is. Stay warm, David. CHEERS to Mass for keeping up great support for the HWB…your new website looks great. Happy Sunday night, Michelle

  2. I was right with you, David, until your last paragraph. I don’t think the folks who couldn’t afford to sufficiently heat their spaces or who couldn’t get to their low-wage hourly jobs or who are still isolated inside their homes because of disabilities and the impossibility of negotiating the streets will look back with much fond nostalgia!

    • Sue, of course I agree with you about the bad stuff that has resulted from these storms. But people’s experiences of this winter have varied greatly, and for some they will be the source of good memories, or at least memories that soften into “remember the winter of 2015” mode that will make for stories for years to come, even in the face of staggering hassles and unexpected expenses.

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