>On White Death, Lot Stalkers, and Missing Winter

> It’s that time of year again. The White Death, as we jokingly refer to snow at work. Because, I am sorry to say, but Midwesterners cannot drive in snow. At all. And this pic was taken from my front doorstep. Gah!
I had to work last night, and the common note all night was “How are/ were the roads????” All night, I heard this, from people coming and going from the hospital. It was just a little bit of snow, hyped up by or local media. A headline from a local channel’s website: “Continuing Snow Likely to Produce White-Out Conditions”. Seriously.
As you can see from the picture, the roads were pretty clear. And this was a non-treated side street! And it was far from a white-out! Still, drivers went anywhere from 2 to 10 mph as if we were driving on foot-thick ice. If they weren’t going that slow, than they were going 60 mph. There is no happy medium from sensible people, which is where my fear of winter driving comes in: the idiots. Too-slow or too-fast driving means you are likely to cause an accident that may involve me. These people just don’t get it.

Of course being home in the Cincinnati area is much better than when we lived about 4 hours’ drive south of here. Those people freaked with a mere few flurries of the white stuff. Schools would shut down for a week with just an inch of snow, which is pretty ironic in an area where the vehicle of choice is a huge 4×4 pickup truck that practically begs to be driven on the stuff. And at the slightest hint of snow in the forecast, the grocery stores would be jam-packed with people stocking up on canned goods and bottled water as if we were on the brink of a nuclear holocaust. The only thing I can even compare it to was when we lived down there on 9/11 (not that I would compare snow to that, but that is the way people reacted). Gas stations had lines of people down the block, grocery stores were full, and everyone was running around in mass hysteria. I, on the other hand, was 10 days out from my c-section with Evan and home with my newborn, clutching him to my chest and full of fear for the world I had brought him into and fear for my husband who was still classified as “Inactive Ready Reserve” as a sniper for the Marine Corps.

Of course all of the public schools closed today. All of them. I have to hand it to the Sisters who run Ev’s school: they don’t panic. Ev had school today as a result. Last winter, when public school students had weeks upon weeks of snow days, Evan’s school only had 3 days where the normal schedule was disrupted: One day was closed from the start after we had a literal dumping of snow overnight (the day it came up to Evan’s waist!). One day was a one-hour delay because everyone was closing and they delayed to find out just how bad driving conditions were. And there was one day where they called all of us parents to tell us they were dismissing at noon because they had called for an ice storm, and for once it was accurate and the ice had started, so they sent the kids home before it got too bad. So all-in-all, about 1.5 snow days for the entire winter, where the public school kids had scads of them. (Incidentally, Evan got out of school for the summer over 3 weeks before they did because they had so many days to make up! Just in time for Evan to be there when his new baby brother entered the world!)

Of course the concurrent White Death and the need for Christmas shopping brings on a whole other phenomenon, and I wonder if the rest of the country experiences this: Lot Stalkers. A Lot Stalker, in case you don’t know, is the person who will start a traffic jam at a store/ shopping center/ mall in order to wait for your parking space. I am the wrong person to stalk, because unless you have some disability that is indicated by a tag on your mirror or a specially-marked license plate, I will intentionally make you wait. I’ll take my sweet time loading my purchases into the car and taking the cart to the little cart corral. I will wait for the defroster to clear every smidge of frost from every window of my car instead of just using my ice scraper. I will allow it a full 20 minutes to warm up if need be (hey, they can’t tell by looking at my car that I have an engine-block heater that makes this redundant!). I will search through my glove box for my mp3 player and scroll through thousands of songs to find that one tune. I will take time adjusting my mirrors and securing my seatbelt. I will turn around and double-check the integrity and position of Evan’s seatbelt. I’ll make a phone call. Finally, I will start to back out of the space. By that point, if you are hardcore enough to wait for it through all of that, you deserve the damned space. Of course this year, it is even easier for me to torture them because I now have an infant to secure into a carseat or carseat base, and a stroller to put away before I can even load my stuff into the car. Ha! I should explain what made me so cruel. A few years ago, when I was in the midst of the interview process for jobs, before I accepted my current position, I had gone to a local discount store to buy pantyhose in a hurry. I was on my way to an interview when my hose got this horrendously obvious run up the leg. Lo and behold, lot stalkers attacked and I ended up in a line of traffic because the driver in front was waiting for a spot. I’ll never forget it, because the lady who originally had the spot occupied had, like, 3 kids to get in the car, and it took her forever to free up the space. But there was an already-empty space two spots down, and the driver in front of the line of cars couldn’t possible walk that extra distance! No! So I ended up sandwiched in, and subsequently late for my interview. That was the only interview I have ever had that did not result in an offer, and I blame lot stalkers! So now it is my personal mission to teach all of them a lesson: walking just a bit further is not going to kill you!

Of course I gripe about all of this, but secretly I am in love with winter this year. Our snow didn’t really start until late in the season last year. Translation: I missed it all. There was no sled-riding or snowman-building with Evan. I was on bedrest. My experiences with snow last year involved John coming into whichever room I happened to be camped in and opening the blinds so I could see our yard prettily-blanketed, or the short drives when I had to go to the hospital for the umpteenth time. Of course for those outings, I was contracting 40 or so times a minute and couldn’t have cared less what the weather or roads were like. So other than Evan sipping hot chocolate and playing board games with me in bed for his 1.5 snow days, I missed winter last year. I didn’t clear any sidewalks or worry about driving because I wasn’t allowed to drive. I missed the days John had to struggle to get the car out because I was contracting like crazy and he just knew I would end up at the hospital at some point that day. I just knew when I needed to go, the car was already at the top of our hill of a driveway and warmed up for me in all of my pregnant glory. My only worry was getting from house to car without slipping on ice at a time when I was already clumsier than normal.

So Lot Stalkers and White Death be damned, I am determined to enjoy winter with my family this year.

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