Monday, January 25, 2016

The Official 10 Commandments of Winter Weather

My friends, winter has come to Pennsylvania. If you don’t live here, you may be thinking something
to the effect of: “Get with it, old man. It’s been winter for over a month now.” My initial response to that would be: “Cool it with that old man business. I just bought a Meghan Trainor album off iTunes. Does that sound like something an old man would do? I don’t think so.”

               That aside, this winter had been a fairly mild one until this past weekend when much of the east coast was buried under unfathomable amounts of snow. So much snow that Woolly Mammoths would fall into a fit of hysterics just thinking about it. This sorry state of affairs is what led me to proclaim that winter proper has come.

                If we’re all going to get through the next few months, those of us who live in places prone to honest-to-god winter conditions need to stick together. That means following the Official 10 Commandments of Winter Weather. Now, I’ve already noticed a few of you breaking some of these, so I thought a refresher might be in order. Remember, these commandments are literally the only thing keeping us from going full Donner Party or Revenant on each other. 

10. Thou shalt not expect help shoveling. If a neighbor handles your sidewalk for you when you’re out of town or at work, be grateful and reciprocate the favor. This does not mean this person has volunteered to be your full-time shoveling surrogate. You shouldn’t be inside sipping a giant snifter of brandy, wearing a monocle while Bob from down the street fights old man winter in your stead.  

9. Thou shalt not use the presence or lack of snow to prove/disprove global warming. One snowy or sunny weekend in January doesn’t outweigh years of careful research. Let’s remember that issues like this tend to require a bigger picture approach than: “Well, it’s warm/cold outside right now so …”

8. Thou shalt ease up on the salt. At the first sign of a storm cloud, some local businesses/residents coat all surfaces with salt three inches deep. Let’s do less of that. A little salt is fine but, once it’s up to my waist, I start thinking I’d rather take my chances with the ice.

7. Thou shalt not complain about how others drive in the snow. This is a personal one that never fails to confuse me. I never know if the person I’m talking to is annoyed because other people drive too fast or too slow in the snow. I always end up doing a lot of mental gymnastics trying to figure out which one it is and I’d just rather not.

6. Thou shalt not post excitedly on social media about snow. If your profession shuts down due to the snow, or your profession thrives on snow, remember not everyone is in the same boat. While you’re rooting for 70 inches of snow on social media so you can stay home or make a few extra bucks, many others aren’t so lucky. Either they have to go into work because their jobs never close or they lose money because their work doesn’t pay them when they’re not there. This doesn't help that whole "stick together" thing. 

5. Thou shalt not utter the phrase: ‘It’s all going to freeze tomorrow.’ Back when I was a youth, this was the constant refrain amongst school children eager to extend an early dismissal or day off into something more. Truth: It rarely "all freezes tomorrow." The salt trucks and the plows and the sun do their thing and this phrase just builds kids up for disappointment. 

4. Thou shalt clear thine vehicle. There are few things more terrifying than driving behind a someone who only felt like clearing a thimble-sized portion of his/her windshield before striking out. The rest of the car is still buried under the previous day’s snow and ice. I understand you’re in a hurry or lazy, but I’d rather not be killed by a glacier-sized block of ice that slid off your roof.  

3. Thou shalt not save spots. There shall be no rewards given for people doing things they’re supposed to/need to do. You digging out your car does not entitle you to squatter’s rights on a spot for any length of time any more than me mowing my neighbor's lawn makes it mine.   

2. Thou shalt not shirk shoveling duties. Sure, shoveling snow is hard work and hard work is icky. However, you’re also an adult and adults have responsibilities. That’s what makes you an adult and not a child. If you’re able bodied, get off the couch, pick up a shovel and get to f’n work. If you’re not able bodied, find a neighborhood youth who is and slip them a few bucks.  

1. Thou shalt not panic. Most of us have seen snow before and lived to tell the tale. Be safe, be aware. The fistfights in supermarkets over bread and milk are a bit much. You don’t want to be in a position where emergency conditions are lifted and you have an entire kitchen full of blood-splattered loaves of bread left to go through. It’s just going to go stale.

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