What It’s Like Living In Boston Right Now

Living in BostonSomeone tweeted an article about how Boston needs to stop complaining and enjoy the snow. 140 characters weren’t nearly enough to say just how wrong I think this is. 

Here’s the thing:

This isn’t just some crappy weather we’re dealing with. This isn’t just some minor annoyances that we should just deal with and get over and worry about real problems instead.

It’s a real problem. A significant problem. A problem as big as the giant piles of snow that now line our roads.

This is people missing work, which means people not getting paid, businesses not getting revenue, families that will struggle to pay their bills this month. The snow keeps us inside and puts a huge damper on our city’s retail and tourism economy. 

This is dangerous. Our narrow roads are banked with giant drifts of snow. Two lane roads are now one lane, and encountering a driver going the opposite direction can mean someone gets stuck. Four lane roads are down to two lanes. Sidewalks aren’t shoveled. Even sidewalks that are shoveled are narrow and difficult to navigate. People are walking in the streets, streets that are already crowded with cars in snowy conditions. And it’s not just people who can walk. There’s strollers and wheelchairs out there in the roads because we have to get where we’re going and there’s simply no other way. 

Everything is difficult. For the last two Wednesdays I’ve done my usual normal routine. First, drop Tessa at daycare so she can make her morning therapy session. Second, get Graham to school, usually just get home and wait for the bus. But for the last two weeks it’s taken over 2 hours, nearly 3, to get this done. Graham spends nearly 3 hours in the morning in the car and then when we get to his school, which is on a small side street and has little parking on a good day, there’s nowhere for me to pull in and drop him. So we have to park down the street and around the corner and walk up to school. It’s not the worst thing that ever happened, no, but all that happens and I still have to get to work. I made it in at noon yesterday. I had to miss the Parent Council meeting in the evening because leaving in enough time to get there would’ve meant leaving at 4 when I’d already missed the entire morning. It’s a problem.

Driving in this is rough. Imagine every street in your city is down by 1-2 lanes. Just one street with lanes closed can cause backups, we’ve got all of them. And when you hit a side street that is full of snow and you’re sliding around, it’s white knuckle time.

It’s cold. And it keeps being cold. They tell us it’s good because warmer weather during our snow is when you have trees falling and power lines going down and the only blessing in all this is that the suburbs haven’t lost power for days at a time. But with it being cold and staying cold, the snow isn’t melting. We haven’t had anything resembling a thaw since the snow started and my weather app doesn’t show a day where the high is above freezing for the next week. (My weather app describes next Wednesday as “Dreary.” No joke. It also says more snow today and Sunday.)

Roofs have begun collapsing under the weight of the snow. (We’re at over 6 feet of it in a very very short time.)

Our transit system, which everyone in the city and nearly everyone in the suburbs relies on, is old and outdated and is constantly breaking down. Getting on a train at rush hour has turned into a ridiculous farce where you stand on a platform that’s packed with people, wait for a train, and if it comes it’s already so full there’s no room for anyone else to get on. Here’s a few local Instagrams to show you what it looks like:

No train for you. #mbta #latetowork #Boston #snow

A photo posted by Jason Zavala (@braczav) on

It’s not about the shoveling (although that really sucks and have I mentioned no one here has a garage?) and it’s not about the snow days when the kids are home from school (which also suck and have I mentioned the kids have been out of school for 7 days so far this year?). It’s that after the entire city shuts down, when it starts back up everything is difficult. We lose hours of our day. We lose time and money and some people are going to lose their lives because of this stupid snow.

So yeah, I think it’s okay to complain. 

I get that some complaining is useless and stupid. I have a 5-year-old. We are right in the middle of the “No Complaining” thing. But the thing is I may come down on complaining about things that are silly and pointless, but if he’s actually doing something difficult I let him complain. Because it legitimately sucks.

The thing about complaining? It can actually help.

Complaining can get things done. And right now our city and our state really need to hear us complain. They need to know that we can’t be an urban center without being able to get through a heavy winter. We should plan for a heavy winter and be pleasantly surprised if it’s not that bad. We need serious changes, we’ve needed them for decades, and if we don’t complain we may not get them.

Complaining can also help the person doing the complaining. Talking to other people about how bad your commute was is actually a pleasant thing, even if your commute was not. When you’re bursting with frustration, it actually helps to say something and let out some of that pressure.

There’s a reason people go to therapy to talk things out. When you’re facing difficult emotions caused by something out of your control, you don’t just get to say, “Hey, I’m from New England and I love this and bring on more snow yay!!” if that’s not how you feel. You can’t change your emotions just by deciding to change them. 

The view out the window right at my eye level. Can't see the street anymore.

A photo posted by Jessica Woodbury (@jessicaesquire) on

Today I’m driving to the station because I’ll need my car for a delivery shift after work and if I have to get back to my house, my commute could take 90 minutes and I’ll lose a good hour of time. Or more. So I’m going to drive over with my shovel and see if I can find a spot and it may not work out and I may be pretty frustrated and if I can’t get my work done in the office I may have to cancel that shift and lose the extra money it would’ve brought. If that sounds extreme, take my word for it that it’s not. It’s completely possible that I won’t be able to find a parking space and that the piles of snow will be far too high for me to shovel into. Paid lots are packed full because street parking is virtually nonexistent on many of the city’s streets. 

I just checked Twitter and the train line I take to work has “limited service” today. Meaning they’re running less trains. Meaning every station will be full of people waiting. And I think I may just have to cancel that shift. We just can’t win.

We just can’t. If your friends who live here have been moaning about the weather and you’ve playfully said how it’s so warm where you are and you wish you could have some of that snow, you should probably know that we are way past joking. We are tired and beat down and every single day is a struggle to get to work and leave again, to drop off kids and pick them up, to do anything. 

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  1. solange says

    I feel for you. I am a single mom with kids the same age of yours and we live in Ottawa, where the kind of snowfall you are having now is standard every winter.
    I complain and struggle and pant and huff, but you’ve made me realize how having better city services for dealing with the snow makes a huge difference.
    Here, snow banks get removed periodically and it takes a big snow dump to slow down public transport. Streets get plowed quite efficiently after a storm.

    It’s still exhausting and I yearn for the end of snow (which round here isn’t before April). But I’d taken for granted what the city does right here.
    I hope you guys get a break soon…

    • Matt says

      Well, I think it’s unfair to call Boston’s snow removal services inadequate.

      They are appropriately sized for the typical amount of snow we get.

      Usually we get one or two big snow storms in the 8″ to 2ft range per year. We dig out, the roads are clear and salted down to pavement the next morning, and we drive to work as if nothing happened. Give it a few more days to a week, and after most of these storms, you wouldn’t even be able to tell they happened, as the snow has mostly melted away.

      An indicator that Boston area snow removal typically is adequate for our conditions is that I read an article suggesting that fewer than 2% of Massachusetts drivers use winter tires. Conditions are rarely bad enough after snow clearing to warrant anything but all-seasons.

      This year has been different – however. We had a very mild end to 2014 with unseasonably almost no snowfall. Then starting in late january with blizzard Juno we caught up to the snowfall from our record winter (1995-1996) in less than two weeks, and the snow has just kept coming ever since.

      In those two weeks we got more snow than we do many entire winters. The temperatures have also been cold between storms, so nothing is melting away.

      Based on our typical snow patters, Boston doesn’t usually need snow melters, because mother nature takes care of it on its own, but this year has been drastically different.

      In the Boston area we typically have great pride in our snow removal prowess, and often laugh at the likes of Atlanta getting shut down by 2″ of snow. In a way maybe this is karma paying us back for that.

  2. says

    Thank you for being so clear and real about life in Boston right now due to the weather and conditions it has created. I just sent a text to a Boston friend to say I’m thinking of her. Take care of yourself and your family.

  3. ValerieH says

    Complain away. And for those smug a-holes in Arizona and Florida who think it’s cute to mention that it’s going to be 80 today, we can only hope a hurricane or a haboob will hit and then they’ll see.

  4. Meg says

    Amen! I have lived here my entire life and I have never experienced weather or conditions like the past few weeks. I’m terrified every time I try to back out of my driveway because I can’t see a damn thing over the 6+ ft snowbanks that line my street. It has taken my husband hours to commute into and out of the city multiple times in the past two weeks. The T is a complete mess. And we are the lucky ones. We have employers who did not expect us to be at work on Monday or Tuesday. We have employers who pay us when they close. We have employers who let us work from home. This story absolutely broke my heart when I heard it last week: http://cognoscenti.wbur.org/2015/02/05/the-mom-the-baby-and-the-bus-stop-barbara-howard

  5. forrest says

    Good article from someone really frustrated.

    I hear you and I think you’re right to complain and to do so to the right people.

    We live in the Northeast (I am in Vermont…3 hours away.) We don’t have near the problems you do because there aren’t as many of us, we stay home a lot, have no significant mass transportation, are all equipped with snow gear, base a big part of our winter economy on snow, have no money, mostly no jobs, and we make our own fun, rain or shine. Our community is tight, we share assets and labor, and live a life that trades off the convenience and culture of a big city for a pretty good pile of positives.

    Still, Boston is great for 1000 reasons, and I hope this weather breaks for you, soon. It’s a lot harder to build 100,000 garages, buy more snow gear that may be progressively less necessary as the snow line moves north, and like Vermont, you pay way the hell enough taxes.

    Once all this clears up…. Vermont’s not a bad place to raise a kid. Come on up and visit Boston on vacation? There’s room.

    Good luck! I hope your complaints get heard and acted on.

    • Leah G. says

      We go to VT, NH, and ME all of the time. One of the benefits of living near Boston is we live in Maine part of every month. #woodsIsGood

  6. jess says

    From Connecticut, and we’re thinking of you guys! It sucks here, too, but mot nearly as bad. I have to commute in on weekends to Boston and it’s almost apocalyptic. I hope you guys get some releif, soon.

  7. Jamia says

    Yes! My 4-year-old and I WALKED home from preschool tonight . . . 1.7 miles — South End to Southie. In snow. On many unshoveled sidewalks. With few (if any) cleared crosswalks.

    He was a trooper, but I was fully aware of just how un-safe we were along the way. But the South End was gridlocked and our usual 35 minute bus ride would have taken HOURS. It was the better alternative. But I can’t do this every night?!?

  8. says

    LOL. Have you ever tried living in the Midwest? This is every day for us. Sorry the snowbanks on the sidewalk were too high boo-hoo. Learn to adapt. If you depend on public transportation, don’t. You have a car. You’re complaining too much.

    • says

      I do have a car. But there’s literally nowhere to park and streets are so narrow that driving anywhere takes hours. This isn’t an issue of being tough or not. You’re welcome to stop by and try it out yourself.

      • Bunnie says

        Unfortunately, Jess, sometimes others can’t put themselves in another’s shoes and lack sensitivity until they have the experience themselves.

    • Cohmom says

      I lived in Chicago/Northern Illinois for 37 years. It was never this dangerous. The roads are much wider and the L never stopped running. And say what you will about ComEd, but the power stayed on. Two years ago we were without power and heat for 4 days. Thankfully, we’ve had heat and power with these storms. But the hourly workers who aren’t getting paid because even if they could get to work, their place of business is closed. For weeks now.

    • Nancy says

      Dave, you need to work on your reading comprehension a bit more. The writer’s already laid out the issues around cars. Driving (and parking!) in Boston is a major challenge on a good day. Right now it’s impossible. I have my car parked on our street (in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston) and haven’t moved it for over two weeks. Why? One, I don’t want to deal with driving. Two, I am afraid that I’ll never be able to find another spot once I get back. This is not a joke. And yes, there’s also that issue of having nowhere else in a congested city to put more snow. We barely have room to clear the sidewalks and the banks we’ve been building up are starting to collapse. It’s not a joking matter.

    • Ann says

      Wow, shut up. You have NO idea what you are talking about. I lived in the Midwest for several years, and yes, you get a lot of snow, but your geography and infrastructure are tiredly different. The Midwest is mostly flat, streets are wide, parking lots are huge and built with plowing in mind. Boston is old. Our streets are curvy, tiny, and often 300 years old. We have little parking in general, and our public transit, which much of the city relies on everyday, is 20 years overdue for an upgrade. Come out here and try to get around our city right now. I dare you.

    • Leah G. says

      I love New England and would not leave. Statistically speaking those that retire in MAINE live longer than FLORIDA. I love New England but this article is real and not fiction. Just take that with a grain of salt. #LifeLongNewEnglander #ProudMassHole

    • david says

      So, I just took a look at some of the bigger, colder cities in the midwest to see how much snow they get in a full winter :

      Minneapolis: 54″
      Chicago 36″
      Milwaukee 47″
      Fargo 50″

      Boston received over 72″ of snow in 17 days, 68″ in 13 days. We’re due to get another 10-14″ this weekend.

      You have no clue what you’re talking about.

    • Kim says

      Dave is an ass. I live in NH but commute to Boston everyday. There is no where for those who have cars to park, most use on street parking, and there is no where for the snow to go. People are getting ticketed for having their cars on the street and ticketed digging their cars out leaving snow on the street and ticketed for not shoveling their driveways. If it was a tornado or Hurricane then maybe he would have more compassion. Boston is a nightmare right now. Working there is hard enough but at least I come home to NH (I am running out of places to put my snow too). We will get through this…spring is around the corner..we are BOSTON STRONG!!

  9. Jill says

    Oh my goodness! You have every right to complain. I hate snow and cold and what you are dealing with looks like torture. I live in the Midwest and have seen some heavy snowfall and it’s no fun, and like you mentioned, can be dangerous! Your city should be prepared for this. Winter comes every year and if I’m not mistaken, New England has a history of harsh winters. Here’s hoping for some warmer temps and no more snow!

  10. says

    The funny thing is that this is how it used to be almost every winter, back when I was little. The last twenty or thirty years have been markedly warmer and milder. But I don’t remember there being so much trouble handling the snow. Of course, back then I didn’t have to worry about driving – my mom and dad did it for me! 😀

    In any case, the snow certainly isn’t being handled well. My own street is now only a single lane wide in several spots, and at both ends there are huge plowed-up piles which are DEFINITELY single-lane only. Yet idiots park their cars on the street. They’ve damn near blocked us in; getting our car in or out of the driveway is almost impossible, because there are cars parked on the other side of the street from us. Getting out takes considerable care.

    One thing that I don’t remember being quite so extreme is the icicles. They’re amazing. Sheets and sheets of razor-sharp ice. We have one on the corner of our house that’s over six feet long now, and I’ve seen much longer and larger ones on other buildings in the area!

    • Jilly-bean says

      I remember Boston winters like this in my childhood, too. It remimds me of asking my Mom to tie the scarf around my face! Standard stuff. Recent winters haven’t been as harsh.

      It has been tough the past couple of weeks getting around. Getting across town, finding parking and being on time is difficult.

      I have forgotten what it’s like to wear just one later of clothes.

  11. amqueue says

    I live in NJ and was pointed here by a friend in Boston. While we’re not getting hammered as much right now, we’ve seen similar down here at times. In my opinion, the problem is that cities have gotten rid of a lot of their bad-weather-handling abilities cause they’re a drain when they’re not used. And having a few years in a row of not-as-much whatever, “Why are we still hanging on to these things? Why do you need to spend money on repairing/getting more of X that we haven’t needed and haven’t moved?” And a lot of the basic ability to cope has been ejected in favor of budget cuts, and ‘oh we’ll get help from the [next larger unit of government] if we need it’. I honestly don’t recall bad weather being a case of state wide emergency that the feds helped out with, back in the 1970s when I was a kid and old enough to notice.

    It all sucks. My sympathy for you and yours, and anyone having problems in this weather – which includes those snow-bound, unable to get *out* of the house, in addition to those whose tasks take them unavoidably out.

  12. says

    Not to mention all the overcrowded emergency rooms, injuries, etc I almost saw a guy fall of his roof today from shoveling it. Heart attacks. And when you reach the end of a street you can’t see anything bc of the mountains of snow. New meaning to the phrase pull out and pray.

  13. says

    I grew up in the Boston area, and I remember a few winters like this one. Only it wasn’t quite as bad because it was 45-50 years ago and there weren’t as many people or cars. . . Both my daughters are in the area and they’re having a very tough time. One has missed pretty much all her work for the last 3 weeks because her days are the days when all the snow’s been falling and the store closes down. The other has been able to do some of her work from home, but her partner has not had work – and therefore not had pay – for all this time. It sucks.
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  14. JoeS says

    Actually I disagree with “You can’t change your emotions just by deciding to change them. ” — therapy folks would tell you that’s the only way to change your feelings. One just normally pays a therapist a lot of money to walk to them through that concept.

    • Elizabeth says

      Yes joe you are correct of course you change your emotions just by making a decision. I for one cannot believe how people are reacting to the snow… Imagine if some of these people had real problems. Grow up people. You do have the MBTA yes the T needs to improve so what! It’s really just weather. So your commute takes longer? And??? Wow… How you behave when things get a little hard tells a lot about you…Yes the weather is hard on some retail businesses but it is temporary. People all over the world have much more difficult situations than some bad New England weather.. Stop complaining it does not help and it is so annoying. If you can’t get to work enjoy the day, spend more time with your children with yourself. Read more, create something beautiful. Use your difficult commute to practice a skill, learn how to meditate. Enjoy the beauty and silence of the snow. Build a snowman, go sledding. Stop worrying. Enjoy your beautiful life. Praise the World… Be grateful and realize this is a temporary situation. Love with all your heart your life. It is the only one you have.

      • JustMe says

        Elizabeth, you seem a little short on empathy. “Yes the weather is hard on some retail businesses but it is temporary.” Yes, this is temporary – but our mortgages and rent and other bills are not. People who work in retail have lost nearly half a month’s pay because of the weather – so far! You clearly don’t live paycheck to paycheck, or rely on tips to make ends meet. I wonder how many snowmen you’d be building and enjoying when you don’t know how you’re going to pay that next bill. And I wonder what skills you would practice while standing for 2 hours on an icy platform, trying not to slip onto the tracks, in below 0 windchill. Have you tried knitting on ice, with frozen fingers? Yes, for some folks not getting to work can be a vacation day, but for a lot of folks, it’s another step closer to financial crisis. And add the cost of repairing the damage to homes – roof leaks, collapses, etc. It feels apocalyptic. Lots of folks here are hurting, and hurting hard. The first storm, we were like “wow, that was a doozy” – the 2nd added a little insult to the injury. The third has been disastrous. And the fourth starts tomorrow – and that’s over 7 feet of snow, which has not melted, in 3 weeks.

        I’m so sorry our stories of challenges during this never-happened-before series of crippling storms annoys you, poor dear. Maybe you should stop reading what other people have to say, stop hearing their concerns, since you clearly don’t care. Or wait till folks in California are losing their homes to mudslides and wildfires again – and then you can direct your “don’t worry, it’s only temporary” advice towards them.

      • Jared says

        Elizabeth, since you’re so quick to recommend the same for others, maybe you should take some time to practice a valuable skill or two. Being able to consistently write coherent thoughts and complete sentences would be a good start. Then follow that up with avoiding empty platitudes, cliches, and fortune cookie wisdom like “Praise the World” if you’re attempting to make a convincing argument. Obviously people have and will continue to face worse things than the problems that the average Bostonian is facing now, but that doesn’t mean that those problems, as clearly described by the author of this post and the majority of the commenters (who, unlike you, have the capacity for rational thought), are any less real or have any less of an effect on real human beings. Will your advice to “change your emotions just by making a decision” really apply to the people most severely affected by these storms who really have cause to complain – the homeless, the elderly and/or infirm, the poor, etc. – people whose lives on the best of days are probably more difficult than you, I, or anyone else commenting on this blog can likely even fathom? Try going up to a homeless person on the snow- and ice-covered streets of Boston in sub-zero temperatures and offering up your hippie-tastic drivel about “lov[ing] with all your heart your life.” See if meditation keeps the heat on for a low-income family or helps your elderly neighbors clear off their walk so it’s passable. Perhaps if you’d ever faced an actual problem in your “beautiful life,” you’d have gained some sense of empathy and perspective, and perhaps if you’d developed reasoning skills beyond that of a 5th grader, you’d actually have the ability to contribute something worthwhile to this discussion (or to the world in general, for that matter).

        • Elizabeth says

          Thank you for your comments. I do know a homeless man and have been in touch with him each day during this difficult whether. He remains positive and instead of complaining he helps others by shoveling or saying a kind word to others. I am happy because I choose happiness which is always a choice no matter the difficulty of our personal circumstances. We each choose our thoughts. You are free to mock and ridicule me. I do happen to have empathy even for you. I continue to enjoy my life on a daily basis no matter what my personal circumstances area. May you be blessed with health and wealth. Someone on this blog asked me how many snowmen I would build if I had to worry about how I was going to pay my bills. That is a curious question to me paying bills has nothing to do with building or creating. There is an abundance of snow. Is there not?? So I can play even if I am worried about bills. I do not think this means I lack empathy.

          • Linda Marie says

            Well said, Elizabeth! Please keep on spreading the message that, when it comes to being happy, we all have a choice.

          • duster00 says

            Dear Elizabeth,

            It’s good that you have made your choice. So you have been in touch with *a* homeless man? Okay, let’s try three or four or eight.

            Please don’t tell others to be happy unless you have lived their lives for a week. You’re obviously well-intentioned but your words come off as insensitive and insulting. One thing I’ve learned is never ever to instruct others on which emotions they should be feeling at any given moment. It’s absolutely not my place to do it and it’s terrible advice. Honestly, responding “Just because I do [X] doesn’t mean I lack empathy” is kind of an awful way to defend oneself on a forum where people are sharing their stories and frustrations.

            A more useful approach would be to direct individuals to resources that will help them cope with the snow/housing/utilities/transportation. Then, maybe, they’ll exhibit the outward signs of happiness you expect. This comment forum isn’t really for the “be happy and enjoy life” crowd. It’s healthy to vent online, and much less harmful than smashing someone’s car window or screaming at a neighbor.

          • mplo says

            Elizabeth, I think that you have to learn to at least understand where others are coming from, whether you agree with them or not.

            As someone who resides in the Boston area, I, too, remember last year’s hellish winter, and it was no fun, with it constantly being cold, and the snow not having any chance to melt. Sure, I live in an urban area, and I have public transportation within walking distance of me, but a lot of people don’t. My family was among the people who ended up hiring those guys from Minnesota to fix her roof, due to damage (although luckily, their roof didn’t collapse), which proved to be quite expensive.

            Also, Elizabeth, I’ve known people around here who’ve been in a situation where they’ve had to make the choice of paying their rent and heating their homes when the winter weather has gotten so extreme. So, it’s way easier said than done to move to a warmer climate, or to just be happy, no matter what happens. It takes money to move, for one thing, and for another thing, one just simply can’t pick up and go. Not everybody is as good as you are at putting on a stupid front.

      • mplo says

        Elizabeth…I live here in the Boston area too, and have never seen a winter like the one we had this past winter. Try to realize that people have to pay their bills, put food on their tables, support themselves and/or their families, and put a roof over their heads, whether they’re owners or renters.

  15. Guy Pondside says

    OMG! I’ve found a soul mate!

    I feel your pain because these past four weeks have been the most painfully-pathetic weather-related weeks I’ve endured in the city of Boston. There are simply too few obscenities to accurately describe what living in Boston has been like this year.

    I seem to have come down with a sudden onset of acute winter-related Tourette’s Syndrome this year. The only thing that stops it is a second cocktail – or a rerun of Mary Tyler Moore.

    Complain. Whine. Cuss like a sailor. You’ve earned the right!

  16. Lee says

    I lived in Boston for 17+ years. Now I’m in New Hampshire. My Dad, who lives in Ohio calls after every storm and every time, I just shrug it off. It’s different for us in the woods. We are prepared for it. We have generators, and we just wait for the plow to show up. Thank God for high speed Internet, hubby & I can both still work. I loved my time in Boston, and I love snowy winters, but I can’t say I like the two together. Good luck!

  17. Corinne says

    Found you via the Morning News. Just chiming in to say that SUCKS. Your complaints are straight legit. And I live in Wisconsin, so I know. That much snow is bananas, and I can’t imagine what it’s like in a crowded city. Hang in there!

  18. Jon says

    I agree that it’s fine to complain, this has been an exceptional winter.

    I disagree with your belief that we should be better prepared for this much snow. It would be a huge waste of money, and part of planning operations is acknowledging that you shouldn’t maintain something to perform at peak. Ever heard the saying, “You don’t build the church for Easter Sunday.”? On busy days, people stand in the aisles, and that’s fine. Same with designing a heating system for a building, you look at the historical temps and plan to have your system meet demand in 50 of the 52 weeks of the year. So you drop below set-temp for 2 weeks. That kind of planning gives you the most efficient systems, because your year-round overhead is lower although people “might” feel slightly inconvenienced for a short period of time. There is just no reason why we should expect public works to be able to keep up with over 6 feet of snow in 3 weeks, it’s not expected and I don’t think we want to pay for that every year…even this year. Many of the problems are much larger than having more heavy equipment and operators on hand…the general design of these streets with cars preventing plows from widening them back out makes it nearly impossible to fix it, even with unlimited time and budget.

    If you can get out, go skiing! A quick trip out Rt-2 to Nashoba Valley will turn that frown around!

  19. Ghost says

    I’ve lived in the Boston area for the last 22 years and have been dealing with these problems as well. So we’ve had snows like this in the past. In the late 90s, I can remember the front-end loader & dump truck coming down the road, putting snow in to the dump truck, and the snow being removed. It seems like this year all the plans for how to deal with a serious snow have been lost. My personal theory is we had a number of light winters accompanied by a lot of focus on cutting government expenses — and part of what we cut was the ability to deal with a serious winter. Both the planning and the personnel. The mayor is talking about being over budget for snow removal already — this is not an abnormal amount of snow, what’s abnormal is how short of a time frame it was in. There is no way this should not have been budgeted for.

    Our public transit problems are not because of the winter. They are because we have 50 year old train cars that were sold as having a 30 year lifespan, that we’ve refused to upgrade/replace. Of course they break down in this sort of situation. We’ve got a booming tech sector with the likes of Google, Facebook, Akamai, Twitter all competing to recruit and open offices. We’ve got the well paid people they’ve recruited and paid. We’ve got a booming biotech sector. We need to put appropriate taxes on these companies and people and fund services for the city they’ve committed to being in.

    • says

      The short period of time the snow has fallen in *matters.* A lot.

      Last year, we kept getting whacked, but there was time to clear the roads in between, and we had *melting*, so that it didn’t all stick around.

      This year, all of this snow–now officially the third-snowiest winter on record here–is still here, because we’ve had no weather warm enough to melt it. And there is no place to put the snow. No place at all. All the places we put snow are full, and overfull. And we got more this weekend, and expect more on Tuesday.

      And there’s no place to move it to, and no time to move it.

      And none of it is going to melt, because the warmest we can hope for is low twenties.

      We are exhausted, and to a large degree trapped, because even if you get your car dug out without incurring any fines, the roads ALL have lanes closed. All of them.

      You are an idiot.
      Lis Carey recently posted..Mister Darcy’s Dogs: A Pride & Prejudice Contemporary Novella (Mister. Darcy #1), by Barbara Silkstone

  20. surprised says

    Have to say I’m taken aback. Some of the issues I totally understand. But the commuting photos are hilarious to me because I could take the same pictures any day, any weather, any situation in NYC. That’s what rush hour looks like, for hours on end every day.

    • Alice says

      The difference is that you’re on the crowded platform for maybe 15-20 minutes before you get on the train – these people may wait an hour for one train to come by, which only a few will get on … And then wait another hour for the next one, which may or may not have room for them. You certainly don’t deal with 2.5-3 hour commutes each way on NYC subways on a regular basis (even on the L train).

  21. Tired says

    I work in Boston in healthcare, and it has been AWFUL. We have employees who have spent more nights at work than at home this month. People who rely on public transportation can’t get to work on time. People who drive to work can’t dig out of their neighborhood; if they do they can’t find a place to park at work. So nurses, doctors, social workers, maintenance, food service workers, housekeeping, etc, have to just stay at work for days on end. You can’t go home if no one comes in to take your place. It is like this in hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabs. Some of these people get paid for the time they spend at work, some do not. Either way, we are here to take care of people but it is getting tiring.

    • says

      I have spent every day since this started thinking of hourly workers and how brutal this is. I’m so sorry. I am losing money from this, but I’m honestly pretty lucky. It’s frustrating to me that no one is stepping up when people’s lives and finances are so heavily affected.

  22. Ray says

    For the politicians in Boston, this is not a time to think about dollars. This winter has created great difficulty for many people throughout new England. Boston is a very liveable and viable city. It is time to bite the bullet, sirs. Communities, many times, get dealt into a disastrous situation through nature. It is only natural. The communities that fail are the ones where the inhabitants and “owners” do not show up to help everyone in the community. It is time to act, and rhetoric is not needed. This is a disaster. A real one. Played out over time. Keep the life you had going. Clear the sidewalks yourselves. The streets too if need be. Or everyone stays frustrated. And votes.

  23. Becky says

    I’m a veteran Boston Public School teacher. I teach in one of the bigger schools in the city, with a HUGE parking lot, and my principal has sent numerous emails asking us to please carpool and rely on public transportation, because our parking is THAT limited (due to all this snow).

    We’ve already had EIGHT snow days in roughly five weeks of school, and it’s only February 13. These snow days, though extremely necessary, are beyond disruptive to all students, families, and staff trying to plan our teaching schedules. However, we actually should have had at least 3 or 4 additional snow days, due to the fact that ALL of our BPS high school students rely on public transportation, and often leave their houses at 5:00amish, and a large number of BPS staff members also rely on public transportation.

    It’s not safe. There are days (that should have been snow days), that my husband (who is originally from Michigan) and I said that, if we had school-ages children, we would have kept them home (for shear safety). I’m 35 weeks pregnant, and drive 40miles EACH WAY, to teach in Boston. My morning commutes, over the past five weeks, have been over two hours, and I leave my house at 5:30am (at the latest); school buses have been dropping students off at home, well after 5:30pm.

    This is real! We are not exaggerating. It’s scary. It’s unsafe. And, it’s real!

    Thank you for sharing.

  24. mr snowy says

    I understand and agree with most of your complaints about this winter and how it handled the snowfall. My suggestions come from my upbringing as a country mouse.

    The major problem for dealing with this amount of snow comes from no place to put it and from no place to put cars. Snow disposal is always painful because it is a peak load problem but I think putting the snow into the Charles or into Boston Harbor is the best of a bad choice. Melting the snow is not practical unless you have your own nuclear reactor in the city to generate the required amount of heat.

    So assuming we can move all the snow to the harbor we should be good which leaves us with the car problem. Cars and housing are intertwined at a level most people can’t grasp. Right now Boston housing stock is quaint, expensive, and highly energy inefficient. I live in a rehabbed Victorian house-to-apartment block in Woburn and my heating and cooling bills tells me there’s no insulation in the walls. If you really want to improve things, advocate for the replacement of housing stock. Tear down those quaint old apartment buildings, replace them with modern, multistory, highly energy-efficient buildings with the subterranean car garage.

    The benefits are multifold. Provides jobs, improves energy efficiency, increases population density (which may allow for creation of more green space inside the city) and gets cars off the road during the wintertime so the roads can be made passable or quickly and effectively.

    It’s a long-term plan. Since people are hungry for short-term solutions, one could simply ban the presence of cars on streets (parking and driving) during a snow emergency. A snow emergency would be defined as time between snowfall and snow removal. It would solve the problem of cars getting in the way and enable more efficient removal of snow from streets and sidewalks. One would probably have to put in some consumer protections to keep parking lot/garage is from charging uber level prices during snow emergencies but since it’s a relatively infrequent occurrence, it shouldn’t be too much of a financial disadvantage. Think of is just another cost of living in the city.

    • says

      Dumping the snow in the river or the harbor without melting it is dangerous, because it creates instant icebergs that are a threat to the navigation that is a pretty important part of our economy here. Boston has a couple of trucks called snow dragons, which do exactly that, melt the snow so it can be dumped in the river or the harbor. Two isn’t enough for this winter, and they are bringing in more from further north, because this is a major public safety issue

      You can insulate your old house; you don’t have to tear it down. But if you’re committed to that course of action–you first.
      Lis Carey recently posted..Mister Darcy’s Dogs: A Pride & Prejudice Contemporary Novella (Mister. Darcy #1), by Barbara Silkstone

      • mr snowy says

        I did a little research and found that the reason dumping snow in the ocean is discouraged is because of roadway contaminants, not instant icebergs. Many cities in eastern Massachusetts now have waivers allowing them to dump snow either directly in the ocean or between the high and low tide lines.

        With regards to rebuilding housing, when I owned a house, I paid a professional (mass save listed contractor) to reinsulate it. It was the worst money I ever spent because it made virtually no difference to my heating bills. As far as I’m concerned, blown in cellulose is a scam. The only way to do it right would’ve been to gut the interior walls and put in rigid foam insulation with mice barriers and additional protection against air infiltration.

        Now I live in an apartment. Just like with every apartment I’ve ever lived in, the landlord has spared every expense with regard to energy efficiency and is saving money by pushing the cost onto my wallet.

        But this drifts a bit off of my original point which is that unless you’re willing to destroy what exists and rebuild for ordinary wintertime, nothing is going to change and winters will cause undue hardship. Like I said, short-term change is banning cars from cities so the snow can be removed, long-term change is rebuilding housing and roadways to make it easier to remove snow.

  25. Elspeth says

    Wow. That sounds really hard, and those photos (especially of the child walking through snowdrifts that look taller than he is) are very effective illustrations.

    I wish Boston and the rest of the Northeast could ship the excess snow out here to the West coast – we desperately need the water, and you need smaller snowdrifts!

    I really hope this is a one-year aberration. I’ve got a conference in Boston a year from now and watching the weather is making me very apprehensive.

  26. Ken says

    I can’t even imagine these hardships. I’ll take a hurricane any day; similar inconveniences, re: job time lost, grocery and other stores closed, transportation at a standstill, trees blocking streets, power lines down, but at least I don’t have to worry about freezing. One thing in their favor — they don’t have to worry about roving bands of thieves and thugs.

  27. says

    I grew up in Massachusetts in the ’60s and ’70s and lived nearly half my life here. I still have family and friends here so I visit frequently. I’m even here, visiting now as yet another snowstorm is dumping snow on the region. But I’m really glad I don’t live here now. I moved back to the Pittsburgh area in 1993, where I’d gone to college and where my husband’s from. We have much less snow down there, though we have all of the cold weather. We had a fair amount of snow back in January 1994, and one 22″ blizzard in February 2010. We have frequent lake effect snow showers – last year, we had small amounts of shovelable snow from November through March. However also we have constantly dreary weather all winter long. I miss those brilliantly clear days that usually followed snow in New England.

  28. Chickenpig says

    I live in NE Connecticut, and we’ve gotten all the snow Boston has and then some. I live in a small town, and life here as pretty much stopped. There is no more money to plow, there is nowhere to put the snow. There are no sidewalks, so walking in the road is the only option, and there are no trains, so when the highway (we have only one) is closed, we have no way out. There is no taking your kids to daycare, because none of them are open. And now it is so dangerously cold that even walking the dog means getting bundled up from your eyeballs down. It’s crazy! I’ve lived in New England all of my life, and I don’t want to ever leave, but this is insane. All these storms one after the other with no melt in between is draining our resources. The cost of trying to clear the roads, parking lots, and roofs is going to have to come out of money put aside for things like our food bank and heating assistance for the poor and elderly. This snow isn’t any more pretty or fun than floodwater after a hurricane.

  29. Linda Marie says

    If it helps, I say, “Complain away, and more power to you!”

    I lived in the Boston area for 24 years (Milton, Mattapan, Dorchester, Southie, Dorchester, and, finally, in Quincy) and, personally, I always welcomed the snow…(probably because I spent the first twenty-years of my life yearning for snow, while growing up in Ireland)…never minded the need to shovel, for hours at a time. To me, it was merely a great workout; my male apartment-mate, at the time I relocated in 2012, never bothered to shovel because he didn’t bother with parking in our driveway (one car in front of the other type driveway). I miss the snow, now, where I live.

    That said, I can’t even imagine trying to drive around in those unsafe road conditions…and, I find myself wondering, at the end of the day, whatever you need to do, wherever you need to be, I mean, is it worth the risk of you and your two young kids dying in a car accident? If it is, carry on. If not, stay home.

    Obviously, this is not an option for those who work in hospitals or any kind of facility taking care of sick or elderly people, as well as ER personnel, like police-officers, firefighters, and EMTs. It can’t be easy for anyone in those professions. Are they complaining? Probably not. They’re doing the best they can to cope in way less than ideal conditions, and that’s all that can be expected.

    Is it imperative that you show up at work; it sounds like you’re only there a few hours as it is? Is it imperative that your kids be in school? Would it be possible to find out what is being covered in school and home school them for as long as necessary? I do not have kids, so, I confess I am entirely ignorant about grade-school, when it comes to what is ‘mandatory’ in Boston; I attended national school in Ireland.

    Yes, perhaps for many, being away from work means lost wages, however, what you’re living through right now is an emergency. This is exactly what your emergency fund is for; you do have a six-month ER fund, don’t you!?! (merely being facetious..if it was not amusing, I’m sorry!).

    If I still lived there now, I’d try to walk as much as possible..or run. Granted, not every adult in their mid-40s is as physically fit as I am; and as a child, we thought nothing of walking two miles home after school. My point is this: when I see those photos of crowds of people standing on those T-platforms, sometimes for hours, it makes me wonder how many of them could be walking to their destinations and be there sooner than waiting around endlessly for trains to show up, and full trains at that! Boston is, for the most part, a walkable city to live in. However, the sad fact is, people have no interest in walking, even on a beautiful summer’s day! Yes, it is probably a bit treacherous to walk around in some places, but not impossible for most Bostonians who live within a few miles of downtown Boston.

    It made me scoff to read ‘mr snowy’ suggest that Boston demolish their brownstones, in favor of high-efficiency buildings, eegit!! Would it be practical and make bucket-loads of common sense for conserving energy? Sure! Is it probable? No, never! That is the essence of Boston’s charm, well, part of it anyway.

    I hope a thaw starts to happen soon. ‘Til then, mind yerselves!!

    p.s. If it’s any consolation, we just had ‘feels like 2-degrees’ overnight in Midtown, Memphis.

    • Sandy says

      I think you’re forgetting the fact that a lot of these people live much further away. They take the T to North or South Station and then take the trains. And with temps in the teens and 20’s, I don’t blame them. In addition, the places you lived were, indeed, walkable. What about the other places people live, like Malden, Somerville, or North Cambridge? Your comments are off.

      • Linda Marie says

        Did you even read my post! Those “who live within a few miles of downtown Boston” was specified! And for the record, IMO, Maulden, Somerville, and No. Cambridge are not that far outside the city, certainly not as far out as Quincy, where I lived through the most severe snow storms I’ve had the pleasure to experience in the Northeast. And Quincy is only 8-miles away! I can walk 2.5-miles at a leisurely pace or 4-miles at a fast pace. Logically, if trains are already full getting close to the city, then the people who live farther away from downtown have already secured a ride on a T-train or trolley. Furthermore, if the T-trains are as unreliable as they have been during the current barrage of snow storms, why not opt for taking a bus! Again, since it needs to be spelled out for you, from locations farther away from Boston, not from walkable locations.

        • mplo says

          The trouble is that buses aren’t any more efficient than cars in getting around the Boston area, in any type of weather, particularly with the winter we had last year, and particularly during the weekday morning and late afternoon/evening rush-hours.

    • mr snowy says

      I’ve spent some time both winter and summer in those brown stones and they are just as hideous as poorly constructed McMansions. They look pretty but the ones I’ve seen are hell to live in. Inadequate kitchens, no noise barriers, drafts that have drafts. My friends living in them often have the look of someone who knows they made a really bad decision trying to convince you it was a good decision.

      So yeah, I’m all for replacing them with high energy efficiency, higher density buildings. There is no need to be stuck with the errors of the past when the future demands a different way of living.

      • Linda Marie says

        Listen, you can and could go on endlessly about the shortfalls of those brownstones..’til you’re blue in the face. The fact is this: the brownstones (some of which are historic) are going nowhere, and they will be there long after we’re a distant memory.

  30. Deede says

    Well since gov. Baker and our state legislature just passed a budget cutting 40 million from transportation including 14 million from the MBTA I don’t think we are complaining loudly enough. I doubt that the service will improve with the cuts and it makes Baker’s public harsh comments about MBTA failures and his vow to fix things a major sad joke.

  31. says

    My god you people are so soft, we live in New England and this happens every year, sure we got an extra dump all at once this year but it’s not the end of the world. Try living up in northern nh or vt for a winter where snow plows are slow to clear roads and you live in a remote part of town. It’s literally all people are talking about know “the snow” like its a huge disaster or something.

    I live in boston and yeah traffic is backed up a bit and people are walking in the roads but be less of a puss and deal with it, if you want to complain all day on blogs and in person then maybe a warmer climate is a better place for you.

    It really is pathetic that the mbta cannot handle operating in the snow and to be honest neither can the moronic drivers in this state.

  32. michelle says

    The only problem is that….um, we humans have created these weather problems and these transportation problems. So, it does seem like a whole lot of whining to me. And if your, warm, dry, have a job and food on your table your way ahead of about 75% of the human race.
    And yes, I live in Boston and I am also walking dogs in this weather, which is my job. I just have
    to do it and it’s OUTSIDE!

    And stop having kids! (Sorry, I have cabin fever)
    It’s absolutely amazing to me that people can not see the tie in between ever increasing populations, which means ever increasing traffic, carbon emissions, climate change etc etc etc.
    I feel sorry for the next generations who will live with much worse than this!

  33. pbd says

    I fail to understand how our complaining about the snow elicits such nasty comments. How does our bitching affect your life? Does your paycheck get smaller with every complaint? Is the health of your loved ones being affected adversely? Does food meant for you go into my mouth when I open it to complain? If you’re watching us complain on the TV, change the channel; if you see our complaints in a post, don’t read it; if you get an email about us, delete it!

    And to the person who said we shouldn’t complain because we could be living in Syria………..right back at you honey. Direct your anger and vitriol towards a much more serious matter.

    We complain about the weather, who cares?

  34. Donna says

    The hardest part for me is not being able to have anyone over. There’s no on-street parking in my neighborhood at all and I don’t have room in my driveway for other cars. It’s one thing to be stuck in the house, but not being able to hang out with friends really stinks.

  35. Norma says

    I spent two hours on the phone with my daughter, in her twenties, on Friday evening as she cried on the phone. In Texas temperature in 70’s. Didn,t tell her. What her worry is… Will she make rent at the end of the month. Im worried that her landlord hasn’t cleared snow from the roof. She’s on top floor. She says I don’t know cant get out there to check. I don’t press it. I will make calls. She says mom dont know if I can make rent since I can’t work. I tell her dont worry just stock up on food and water we will cross that bridge when we have to.

  36. says

    I think we all thought we were going to make it out this winter totally unscathed. But while we aren’t the snowiest winter on record yet, we are certainly the snowiest in the shortest amount of time! And now that harsh cold has set in so all the snow has turned to ice. If you didn’t do a good job shoveling (which plenty of people flaked on) it’s impossible now.

  37. Parag says

    I grew up in Boston and lived there for over 27 years. I can say that it is tough living there if you don’t have work from home option, and/or house with a garage/driveway and that you can bunker yourself in. Driving on the roads there is horrible, especially the local streets. The infrastructure/transportation they have has not improved.

    I noticed that costs have also gone up in Boston. Buying a house is expensive. To have a somewhat comfortable life in Boston you need a dual income of $100k with a work from home option. This means you get to live a town with a good school and a comfortable house with a nice driveway/garage. Middle class in boston is dual income of $100k; which is nuts.

    The best solution is to just move from Boston. I have moved from Boston to Austin and for me it was for it. No snow! No sports fanatics! You have a wide variety of housing options! Even apartments here have lower cost and much bigger space. The restaurants here are much better and it much more hip and trendy.

    There are other options like Raleigh, NC. I would agree that Austin and Raleigh don’t have as good of public schools but who cares. There are good school districts and magnets schools here.

    Bottom line is why do you want to live in Boston which has terrible weather; super snowy winters, humid as hell in the summers. You would think since Boston has all these bad points about it, it would be cheaper to live but no. So it doesn’t make sense to live there.

    Boston is for masochists who love to pay more money for misery!


  1. […] P.S.–Tough 18 miles this morning in -25 windchill and into awful winds that created these sand dunes that we had to jump through on the trails. My whole body aches. We’ve had it pretty good here in Minneapolis this winter, though. It’s definitely better than last year’s unrelenting arctic temperatures and the snow that caused our ceiling to collapse. Yes, it stinks to run in subzero temperatures on the ice, through the snow, into harsh bitter winds. But it could be worse:  http://dontmindthemess.com/2015/02/living-boston/ […]

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