I had a nice two-hour commute down to school today, which involved a 35-block walk downtown, and a 7-block cross-town walk (and if you’re a New Yorker, you know that those cross-town blocks are loooong). I live on the Upper East Side. I walked, basically, to the Empire State building. And if you’re familiar with New York — especially New York around the holidays — you know that walking from the UES to 33rd and 6th means walking through the most obnoxiously touristy parts of town, and getting bombarded by throngs of white people walking five across, slowly, wearing their brand-new bright white tennis shoes (because I hear in New York, you walk a lot!) and I Heart NY ski caps, hitting you with their Macys bags and standing on the corner of 34th and 5th going, “Where’s the Empire State building? I don’t see it!” (Look UP, it’s that big thing blocking the sun).
So that was fun. I even saw a guy — and I’m not kidding here — who was not only wearing Uggs with his tapered jeans tucked into them, but was also pulling a rolling backpack. Uggs. Tapered Jeans. Tapered jeans in Uggs. Rolling backpack. No, I did not laugh out loud, but I’ll admit that I smirked. (And to the sensitive person reading this indignantly and going, “Gosh, Jill, maybe he has back problems,” I repeat: Uggs. Tapered jeans.) By the way, I’d push my shit in a stroller before I’d use a rolling backpack.
So from 33rd street it was the PATH train downtown. For once in my life, I am grateful to New Jersey and the fact that their transit system extends into New York (I never thought I’d say that. I still support charging $50 a trip on weekend nights). Of course, the PATH, being a commuter train, doesn’t let you buy just one ticket — you have to buy, like 11 of them. Actually, the minimum is two, but their machines don’t take credit cards and don’t accept $20 bills. They take subway cards, but not the unlimited kind. And naturally, all I had were credit cards, $20s, and an unlimited subway card (what the hell kind of machine doesn’t accept a credit card?). But the nice PATH employees — and they really were quite nice — swiped me in for free.
Two hours after I left my apartment, I was snug and study-ready in the NYU Law Library. Now it’s just a question of how the hell I’m going to get home — walking for an hour in the cold at 11:30 at night just doesn’t sound pleasant, but I’m not sure how I feel about paying for a cab with these new strike-day “zone” rules (they charge $10 to go anywhere within the first zone, and $5 for each zone after that; I live many, many zones away from NYU, and it would probably be a $40 cab ride). Perhaps I will be camping out at the library tonight. Yay!
Look, I’m all for worker’s rights and I’m usually very pro-union, but this seems ridiculous (and not just because I’m personally inconvenienced). This will probably be a very unpopular sentiment in these parts, so someone please correct me if I’m misunderstanding things. But from what I’ve read, the MTA dropped the retirement-age issue, so workers can continue to retire at 55 with full benefits (I don’t know about you, but I plan on working long past 55; so do my parents). But in order to pay for those benefits, they’re asking workers to pay 6% of their salaries into their pension funds for the first 10 years of employment. Six percent is a lot, especially when the current payment is 2% — but if you want an early retirement age, you’ve gotta pay for it somehow, right? MTA employees also make something like $55,000 a year. Now, their jobs are dangerous and trying, and they certainly deserve every penny they earn — but they’re making $55,000 a year with no educational requirements and full retirement benefits at 55. If the city and the MTA was making unreasonable demands, or if they were refusing to compromise, I’d have more sympathy. But they’ve offered workers what seems to me like a pretty good deal (again, I might be wrong, I haven’t really researched this, so correct me if I am). To the credit of MTA employees, they picked a damn good time to strike — when holiday shopping is at its peak, and the tourist season is in full swing. Retailers are going to take a big hit if this continues, and will definitely be pressuring the city to fix it fast.
So we’ll see what happens. Anyone wanna drive me home tonight?
UPDATE: At least I’m not as bad off as some folks. My Starbucks was open, thank GOD!
And just in case it wasn’t clear: TWU members are high and mighty communist douchebag dialysis-obstructing murderers. Why can’t we be more like Iran?