There’s maybe only one group of people living in the New York metropolitan area that has not been terribly affected by the transit strike, now in its second day: Bloggers, of course. The legion of the pajama-clad just, well, stayed in their pajamas. But they were not without opinion about what was happening out their in the freezing world. So, in honor of the transit strike, this blog report will be devoted to both the homebound musings of these lucky few and those of their reality-based counterparts who trekked over the Brooklyn Bridge with Mayor Bloomberg, shared a car with three strangers or shivered outside the LIRR station at Jamaica and lived to tell the tale.
First off, the Gawker folks, who seemed to have found a crisis ready-made for their brand of snarkiness. Though they admitted that working at home meant “that it wasn’t right to bitch about the strike beyond our cursory aggregation of rants,” their hearts did go out to “each and every person who exposed their adorable face to the incredible, blistering cold and dutifully showed up at the office sporting snot-cicles. You’re the strong ones, and we’re spoiled pussies.”
But wait. Turns out even bloggers who never leave the neighborhood are suffering. The Gawkerites quickly discovered that the local Starbucks was completely closed, proof that “Manhattan had morphed into the Heart of Darkness.”
Many bloggers turned even further inward. Take Pantry Girl for example. This self-proclaimed “obsessive compulsive, anal retentive woman in the city,” is under the impression that “this strike is happening because they know I’m out of birth control and I seriously need to see my doctor.”
Of course not everyone is thinking about themselves. Jeff Jarvis has a pretty good round up of today’s editorials on the strike. (And we’re sure that most of these writers were able to stand objectively above the fray and not be angered be fact that they had to walk to work in sub-freezing weather.)
Some bloggers engaged the actual issues of the strike and took sides with either the union or the MTA, with much vitriol directed at both.
Carpundit (who, from the sound of his name, should be happy about no subways) calls Roger Toussaint, head of the TWU “as out-of-touch and arrogant as any union leader.” He thinks this is all about “more money in their pockets now, the guarantee of the current (early) retirement eligibility later, and the promise that their children can take the same sinecures at the same terms forever. It’s not about respect; it’s about entitlement and greed.”
There was a lot of anger along these lines. So much so that Jordan Barab at Confined Space felt confused about what was happening to the blogosphere. “One presumes that most of these blog readers are liberals,” he wrote, “yet in many cases support for the strike is surprisingly shallow or even hostile. The strikers’ issues aren’t well understood (fault of the news media or the union?), people assume the strikers are lazy, greedy slugs, people don’t understand that strikes are not vacation days for the strikers — especially when they’re ruled illegal by the courts and strikers are being fined.”
Those sympathetic to labor maintained that if the union cracked now it would set a bad precedent. As Metroblogging NYC put it, paraphrasing Toussaint, “the reduction in pension and health benifits that the City wants to thrust on MTA workers will have larger implications on other city workers. If the City can succeed in pushing it through on to the MTA, then the Sanitation workers are next and so on, every city agency will fall in place. Its like the flood gates would open.”
Like everyone stuck far from the office, our main concern is how long this thing will last (remember that the 1980 strike went on for eleven days). Gothamist tries to answer this question in a poll. The blog wonders, “Will New Yorkers be celebrating the holidays at home, stuck and stranded from their loved ones across the city? Will we be ringing in the New Year’s by watching the ball drop on Times Square filled with tourists? Wait, we already watch on TV. Anyway, how long can both sides go?” The response, as of 11:30 this morning: most pundits were guessing the strike would last until Friday or early next week.
We’re also keeping an eye on the best souvenir t-shirt to emerge from this debacle. So far, Goldenlisaster is on the case and has come up with a top ten. We like number three, “Ask me about my last raise.”
Gal Beckerman is a former staff writer at CJR.
Hey, come to think of it, that’d be pretty popular t-shirt for bloggers on any day.