I’m from the Northeast where, in winter, snow is a regular and expected climatological feature AND people pretty much know how to cope with it and drive in it—in it, around it, through it. To us, it’s as natural as breathing. Albeit rapidly. It’s an adrenalin adventure. Any hill, any curve, any intersection is a new challenge. It’s you against nature…and against that other idiot who has recklessly decided to go for a joyride in the winter wonderland.
Then I moved to Seattle where, as is well-known, it rains a lot in winter. Temperatures are mild. Rain is a bit of an annoyance, but moisture is good for your skin and hardly life-threatening.
Until it turns to snow. Then, it’s mayhem. All hell breaks loose out here.
There is a scientific reason for this. Seattle is hilly. Steeply hilly. I’m talking cable car and tram hilly. We had them once. Then cars and buses rendered them obsolete and they vanished. But did gravity adjust? It did not. It still held stubbornly to the rule that what goes up—or tries to go up—must come down, often in graceful, or not so graceful, descending pirouettes, until you crash into an immovable object. Like another car, or a bus, or an electrical pole. The electrical pole at least has an excuse; it’s anchored to the ground; it didn’t just ark there. The cars and buses? They’re just stuck, often bunched up in cozy, if strangely configured, groups at the bottom of said hills.
So I moved to a small island in Puget Sound…not just because of incompetent snow drivers in Seattle, but it did figure into the decision. What didn’t figure into the decision was that this island, too, is hilly. Very. And while it is surrounded by arguably warmer than freezing salt water, snow happens. Rarely, it is true. But when it does, as it has this month, the island and its incompetent snow drivers make Seattle look like heaven by comparison.
Over a couple of days, we got about a foot of snow. Maybe more. No one is sure because almost no one can get out of their homes to measure. Also we had no power for several days; my house got down to 38 degrees. That’s what it should be outside, not inside! Thankfully, I have a wonderful neighbor who has a 4WD pickup and we’ve been able to get out for food. On our travels, we have seen only one snowplow. It was broken down by the side of the road.
In terms of square miles, this island is about the size of Manhattan…but with fir trees instead of high-rises and a year-round population of only perhaps 10,000 people. Some of those people work for the electrical utility and the country roads department and they have been doing yeoman work. Both of them. But I can’t help but think they are under-equipped and understaffed for such an event. You know: the kind of event where people think, Hey, let’s go bombing around in the snow in our cars! In short, an event invented for idiots.
Idiots like me. I got as far as the end of my driveway before I got stuck. That was four days ago. The car is still stuck and so am I.
Lesson learned: I am just another idiot…