“This is my favorite time of the year,” says Luis Rodriguez, 52, as he climbs into his snowplow. “Most of the year the city has me moving asphalt or gravel. But if I’m honest, this is why I took the job.”
Rodriguez and his crew are thrilled to take to the streets after each snowfall to trap every disabled person in his city.
Curb cuts are a hallmark of universal design that allow people with disabilities, as well as people pushing strollers or pulling wagons, to navigate neighborhoods. And Rodriguez vows to coat every single intersection with a thick layer of ice.
“There’s something about taking fresh snow and turning it into a pool of brown sludge at the bottom of every curb cut that fills my heart with holiday joy,” he says while affixing a large aesthetic bow to his front plow. Rodriguez has spent the last several months workshopping ideas on how to make this season the most inaccessible of all.
“They say that about twenty percent of Americans live with a disability. Those are big goals. But one day I’ll get ’em. I’ve actually been busting up curb cuts with hammers in my spare time. When you wear a reflective vest, most people leave you alone.”
Sadly, not all residents are filled with the same spirit of joy and whimsy.
“Are you kidding me? Are you absolutely kidding me right now?” one local wheelchair user remarks, channeling her inner grinch. “How the hell am I supposed to get through this? I’m already late for work. I hate this city.”