The outsiders

You think you have it bad in that stuffy cubicle? We asked New Yorkers who work outside how they cope with the cold.



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Photograph: Roxana Marroquin


Food cart owner, Tenth Ave at 36th St

Do you work outside all winter? Yes, I take more clothes when it gets cold.

How many layers do you wear? Five or six, minimum. I’m wearing three pairs of pants.

So you look much bigger than you actually are. Yes! [Laughs] And when it’s really cold, I have to work with gloves and cover my face.

Do you ever warm yourself by the meat? Yes, the warmth comes out of the cart. Sometimes I make a small cover with a plastic sheet.

Toasty. Do people still come out for food in the dead of winter? People still come, but less—they’re scared from the cold. Me? I come all year, no matter how cold.

Is there anything good about working outside? I make money for my kids, so why not love it? It’s very difficult. If I could work inside I would. I have a degree as a civil engineer. When I get a job doing that, I’ll leave this one. I wish I could stop the snow, but I can’t.

Photograph: Imogen Brown

Manny Paradiso

Quality-control manager for Quadrozzi Concrete

My mom always told me that jeans wouldn’t keep me warm. These are just to protect me from the wind. I’ve got another layer underneath.

How long have you been working outside like this? Every day for 30 years. Since I was 18.

Damn. You must be totally insensitive to the cold. I’m not. My bones hurt. And do I want to move to Florida? Yes, yes I do. No more snow! [Laughs]

What do you do to stay warm? I have hand warmers in my pockets, wear long johns and two or three shirts. Oh, and when it’s really cold, I wear electric socks.

No way! Sounds dangerous. Nah. They have a 9-volt battery and wires running through them.

What are the benefits of working outside? In the winter when everyone else is warm inside and it’s 20 below? Absolutely none. Years ago, we never worked through the winter. Now, because of the new technology in the concrete, we can work on a 15-degree day. We’ve worked when the temperature was in the single digits.

Photograph: Imogen Brown

Jamel Homward

Supervisor for the Downtown Alliance

What do you do exactly? We keep the streets clean. We’re out here seven or eight hours a day. I’ve been with the company for about six and a half years.

How do you feel about working outside? It’s cool to me. As long as you get through the winter—that’s the hardest part.

Are you miserable all the way through? Nah. Some days are all right. Other days it can be really freezing. So you move fast and dip in and out of the restaurants. I use the hand driers in the bathrooms.

Good idea! Don’t you wish they had full-body versions? Riiight, I do! But even with the normal ones I can point them inside my jacket. [Laughs]

What are the advantages to working outside? There’s more opportunity—you get to meet people. Hey, you can talk to people and get interviews for a job indoors.

Is that what you’re aiming for? No, I’m not aiming for that. I’ve already braved the roughest parts.

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