Snow: The Tipping Point

Some of my earliest memories, influenced through the fact that I have watched them on VHS, are of the Blizzard of ’96.  My parents stayed behind as I swam through snow over my head.  Within a week, the temperature reached near 60 degrees and all that snow melted, nearly flooding my hometown.

I remember diligently checking the local TV stations, watching the scrolling text of schools announcing delays and closings.  I watched the weather, understanding that blue=snow.  I remember checking my middle school’s Homework Hotline, a phone service where teachers could put up homework assignments for students that missed school.  I, and I imagine most students that dialed this number, only dialed it when they were too impatient to wait for the closing announcement on TV.  I used to watch the movie Snow Day on Nickelodeon-orange VHS the way a gambler would kiss dice.  I always hoped for a day off but, more than that, I hoped for multiple days off, as did any other child.

As of 11:12 Tuesday morning the Northeast is due for its first real snowstorm later this week, and I’m not stoked.

When you’re in primary school, you beg for snow because you don’t really have to do anything about it.  You whine, snow comes, and you drink hot cocoa and go sledding with your friends until you start complaining that your hands are red (my experience.  Experiences may vary).  My college was a mostly commuter school so we still got snow days occasionally.  The magic of a snow day wears off the second you stop benefiting from it.  Specifically, you end up in the red.  I’m 23 now.  If a snowstorm comes, I have to be out shoveling as long as I’m at home.  If I have work, I have to go to work.  I have to pre-heat my car while digging it out of a day’s worth of snow plow pile up.  Nothing short of The Day After Tomorrow is getting my workplace closed, and then I have to deal with drivers that act as though they’ve been teleported to a universe where friction doesn’t exist.  You have to maneuver around amateur drifters, old people, and people ready to dive out of their cars at the first sign of sliding.  Rarely, you’ll see someone who already dove.  And all this is just getting to work, never mind getting out of work when it has cooled down considerably and the salt hasn’t had enough time to thoroughly do its job.

This weekend I have friends coming back to town.  They’re on the fence now because the storm will impact their commute.  Stuff like this doesn’t happen when your friends still live down the street.

So, what can we do?  I got one answer; pollute.  Keep your cars running 24/7.  Litter.  Don’t recycle.  I read somewhere that Pennsylvania’s winters will be equivalent to Richmond, Virginia within 15 years at the rate we were going.  I was in Richmond once during the winter and I couldn’t see my own breath.  I’m now watching An Inconvenient Truth.  I gently kiss the computer screen for good luck.

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