Beating the deep freeze with lots of layers and coffee


Donald Dushain wasn’t feeling too taxed by the bitter cold. Moving around and drinking coffee helped him stay warm.   Photo by Heather Dubin

Donald Dushain wasn’t feeling too taxed by the bitter cold. Moving around and drinking coffee helped him stay warm. Photo by Heather Dubin

BY HEATHER DUBIN  |  Lady Liberty is handling this frigid cold spell just fine. Dressed in seven layers, Donald Dushain was wearing a Statue of Liberty costume over top, and carried a sign for Liberty Tax Service at the intersection of E. Houston St. and Avenue B, close to their office.

“It’s one of the best outfits in the world,” Dushain said. He had been working since 9 a.m. and was done at 2 p.m.

“I keep moving to keep warm, and I’m drinking lots of coffee,” he said.

People on the street laughed and danced with him, enjoying his upbeat questions.

“Did you do your taxes today?” he asked, or “How you doing?”

The intrepid Dushain planned to add an extra layer for the next day.

“It feels like Siberia,” said Meret Koehler, who works in the East Village. She has been helping a friend with renovations recently, which has left her little time to suffer in the deep freeze outdoors.

“How do the birds survive?” she wondered.

To better insulate herself against the cold, Koehler recently went on a shopping spree.

“I bought myself some $40 gloves and really warm boots,” she said. “Also, I walk fast — and that’s it.”

At Native Bean coffee shop on Avenue A, Steve Fagan was inside bundled up with a scarf.

“I’ve had it. I’m ready to move to a warmer climate,” he said. But Fagan noted the temperature here is better than where his mother lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where, as he checked his phone, it was 1 degree.

“The last few winters were abnormally warm,” he observed. “This winter, which is abnormally cold, has come as a shock to the system.”

Mike Costello, a construction worker at a site near First Ave. had on four pairs of pants, including Carhartt overalls, designed to withstand the chill. He also wore a facemask, a hoodie, a hard hat and Hot Packs — heated hand warmers — in his gloves.

“I’m prepared for this,” he said. Outside from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Costello was pretty content temperature-wise, and did not need to move around to stay warm.

Last week, when it was 9 degrees, Costello pulled a 12-hour workday, and was very grateful when a worker from Boulton & Watt, a restaurant on Avenue A and E. First St., brought him a nice hot cup of tea.

“It made the last few hours of my day,” he said. “I went back to thank them later, but they weren’t there. Thank you!”

Over at Mud Park, a coffee booth by the Second Ave. F subway stop, Roxy Dallas and Alyssa Eble were positive about their work environment, which includes a large, open window with easy access for delivering coffee and baked goods.

“We have space heaters stashed all around our kiosk here,” Dallas said.

“It’s cold, but it’s really beautiful outside,” Eble said. “We have a gaping window to a view of the Lower East Side in its sunny glory.”

According to Dallas, Mud Coffee on E. Ninth St., which also operates the park kiosk, does not close its doors very often — Hurricane Sandy last year and the current cold were no exception.

“The L.E.S. needs its coffee!” she added.

On that 9-degree day last week, Dallas was wearing four shawls, and doling out coffee to the construction workers nearby.

“I don’t see an end in sight,” Eble said. “I check the weather in the Midwest as a pre-emptive mark to see what’s ahead.”

The two discussed relative regional temperature differences in the States.

“We’re not prepared for this — Milwaukee is prepared for this,” Dallas concluded.

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