Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow day

Would you care to retire to the street for an after lunch drink?

I am officially annoyed by all the weather people claiming that each storm this season is going to be as big as the blizzard of 1996. The verdict is still out on today's storm, but right now, it just doesn't look that bad.

Lacey, in January 1996 on Hewitt Street, about a week after that big storm.

I lived on the corner of Division and Hewitt at the time of that blizzard and my car was buried in a drift of snow for three days. I had to — egads — take a bus to work for the rest of the week. Not everyone who uses public transportation is insane or sociopathic, but let's be honest here: almost everyone on the bus is one or the other, and some are both. There were no secrets on the bus, and there were a lot of viciously angry mothers, which has always left me wondering if that's at least part of the reason we have a gang problem these days.

Each day I took the bus to work, I sat near an older man who was definitely afflicted with something. He looked profoundly sad, and focused on his mission, which was to feed the birds. Each day we rode down Broad Street, and he held his hands above his head, and stuck up his pointer and middle fingers, bending them in the middle, like a bird flapping its wings. He watched his finger birds with wet, piercing blue eyes, and he got off the bus before my stop at State Street, dragging behind him a crinkly red, white, and blue plastic bag, filled with bread. I watched him from my window, as the bus pulled away, as he made his way through piles of snow, to a park bench, where the pigeons greeted him eagerly.

On the sixth day after that blizzard, I began the difficult task of digging my car out of the drift-turned-plow dump site. I was a Johnny-come-lately back then, too, indignant than anyone without a driveway could possibly think they had a right to a spot on the street simply because they shoveled some snow there. I waited too long to begin excavating, but it just wasn't warming up enough to melt the snow, and I had grown weary of the bus. I wanted use of my car again. It took me about 3 hours to dig it out of that wet, heavy, filthy snow, and when I was done, I headed out, leaving my spot without a chair or garbage barrel. And, of course, a car I never saw before was in that spot when I returned a few hours later. I was so pissed that I don't have a clear memory of where I left my car that night, but I kept telling myself that no one owns the street.

Some things do not change, except now we have a garage, and I'm married to a Canadian who loves to shovel. Some of our neighbors will mark "their" spaces on the street with lawn furniture, garbage or recycling cans, and occasionally, grills. It does seem we're surrounded by more inconsiderate people here, than I was in Chambersburg in the 1990s. Someone will inevitable park in front of our garage, when there are clearly spaces open near it. And it is always a car we don't recognize. Glen is way nicer than I am, and used to knock on our neighbors' doors to try to find the car's owner; at least until someone answered the door with a baseball bat. Now we wait until we need to leave, and then we call the police.

Guess what? It's not recycling week here in Trenton!

It also seems to me that there are many more people who don't know how to drive in the snow. Matthew, Steve, and I watched a guy try to pull away from the side of our house for 15 minutes the other day. So much smoke! And when his wheels were finally victorious in grabbing onto something they could use to roll, he must have had the gas pedal to the floor, because he exploded out of his parking spot, almost hitting my neighbor's garage, and fishtailing down the street.

There are also far more "entrepreneurs" where I live now, compared to my old spot in Chambersburg. We get a lot of offers to shovel from the local crackheads. Sure, there's something to be said for getting your corner lot, two entranceways, and driveway shoveled for $3, but when you find your crackhead shovelman slumped over behind your garage, clutching a bic-pen-cum-crack pipe, well, the thrill of the bargain wears off. Then, all the other crackheads start knocking on your door for work. It's a cheap labor force, but it's icky. Why aren't the kids shoveling, you ask? It's because it's slightly more lucrative to sell crack to our local landscape professionals than it is to actually do any real work.

In addition to each storm of the century falling so short of that title, there are more and more jackasses on off-road vehicles riding around our neighborhood while the roads are snow covered. Nothing makes me feel more like acquiring a gun than the pack of dirtbike-riding douchebags for ruining my pristinely quiet, beautiful snowy morning with their loud, occasionally stolen and always ill-tended vehicles screaming past my house again and again and again. I hope they crash into a snowbank, wrecking their vehicles, without hurting anyone else.

Despite the annoyances of city living during snowy winter days, I'm excited to see how today's storm finishes up. We're low on eggs, milk, and bread, but even if we're trapped, I think we'll be okay for a few days without resorting to cannibalism or whatever it's called when you eat your pets.

The snow always makes me think about the sad, old birdman I encountered on the bus all those years ago. Could he possibly still be feeding the birds this winter?

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