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OpinionColumnistsJeff Vasishta

Why freezing temps stop NYers in their tracks

A man walking two girls home from P.S.

A man walking two girls home from P.S. 111 Adolph S. Ochs on Manhattan's west side during a winter storm, Feb. 13, 2014. Mayor de Blasio decided not to cancel New York City schools despite the stormy weather. Photo Credit: Agaton Strom

Walking around the frigid streets of New York this winter, it's hardly been surprising to see that coffee shops seem to be doing a roaring trade as hyperthermic pedestrians seek to warm their bones with a blast of blistering joe.

Omnipresent Starbucks sell their latest creation, the "venti" Caramel Flan Latte for close to $5. Surely, then New Yorkers have the pockets to handle the pain of the polar plunge? Lower your eyes, and the footwear I've seen picking through the snowy sidewalks and jumping icy puddles tell a different story.

We all know the inconvenience of chomping down the street in boots designed for Scandinavian mountaineers, only to turn your heated office with hardwood floors into a water park after you enter. But surely carrying another pair of shoes in your bag is worth sacrificing the frostbite outside? That, of course, assumes that all New Yorkers can afford winter boots.

What's been particularly heartbreaking is the number of school kids I've seen walking to the bus or taking the subway in sneakers when temperatures have plunged to the single digits. How can they be expected to learn when they can hardly walk? Surely there's an angle here for a shoe company or a department store looking to get a ton of positive media to help New York kids treat their toes during the turgid temps?

It's not just kids, though. Artist types carrying guitars on their backs, wearing thin jackets and sodden canvas Converse cut a cruel image, too.

For all the thigh-high, fur-lined footwear parading around Manhattan, there are a lot of New Yorkers whose shoes have to last them all year long. I was walking to the A train on Nostrand Avenue recently when I saw a middle-aged man trying to negotiate the slush in a pair of sneakers.

"You need some boots," I said.

"Wanna give me yours?" he replied.


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