So today (Wednesday the 3rd of this brave new world of 2018) I had a mental healthcare appointment to keep (no emergencies — in fact, I’ve been feeling better than I have for the past 3 or 4 years). I first set up these appointments when the family car was working, but because I am a prescient prophet capable of seeing that driving 20 year old cheap beater cars means we’ll be carless from time to time when one dies, I chose a practice in walking distance.
And of course it’s winter when the car chooses to die, the jerky little bastard. And of course the Earth’s hat of cold air has lately slipped rakishly to the side and we’re under all that fine polar air right now while the precious icecap continues melting in frickin January.
But the walk isn’t so bad because it’s over freezing unlike the walk I had to take for yesterday’s appointment, and the legacy of a Wisconsin childhood is knowing how to dress for cold. Only my cane hand gets truly cold, and maybe my nose.
My appointment was on one side of a rectangular route with one of the two grocery stores in walking distance on the other side of it on the way home, so instead of taking the shorter route back home I figured I’d stop by the store as long as I was already walking and pick up a few odds and ends like some apples and pears for the children who, I am very happy to report, can chow fresh fruit like champions and do at every opportunity. Yay, nutrition!
I wasn’t planning on picking up enough things to justify taking along the collapsible cart I recently bought thanks to my Patreon patrons, so I brought an empty backpack. All good. Planning ahead.
But what I did not plan on — and I should have known better given my past experience as a manager in the grocery biz — was the forecast of 8-12 inches of snow in the forecast for tonight (there’s a bit less than an inch on the ground as I type this, and the snow is beginning to come down again after taking a break for nightfall) and what it would mean for my mission.
In Norfolk, Virginia where close proximity to the ocean gentles the temperatures, this is a MASSIVE BLIZZARD WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE OH GOD.
The grocery store was clotted with swarms of half-crazed customers. Like, a no shopping carts available, I got one of the last 6 or 7 handbaskets swarm of shoppers — and at that point, not a single snowflake had fallen yet.
Ew, a handbasket. I don’t like using them anymore, because they unbalance me due to my limp and bone-on-bone hip, and I already limp heavily enough even with the cane thankyouverymuch.
I almost decided to say screw it and head home. But, the kids want apples. And the wife’s upset tummy craves full-sugar Coca Cola (which horrifies me; as my grandma’s good little boy I cleave to her teaching that 7-Up is the magic tonic that soothes all ills).
So I shop.
Weather panics are weird.
Some of it is predictable. Half the bread aisle is blown out, as it always is when bad weather threatens. Apparently there’s something about blizzards and hurricanes and nor’easters that makes people crave sandwiches and toast.
The bottled water is also half blown out. Because if anything is scarce during a blizzard, it’s water which is LAYING ALL OVER THE GROUND A FOOT THICK JUST SHOVEL A FEW DRINKS INTO A BUCKET AND BRING IT IN TO THAW FER CRISSAKE. Also, since when does a blizzard knock out the water supply? Your pipes shouldn’t be freezing, because you should be running your water if it’s that damn cold. And the snow will insulate the crawlspace under your home. It’ll actually be warmer under there than it has the last 3 or 4 nights with the cold snap.
And, this is the one that really gets me, and I’ve seen it before (and it’s weirder than anything else I’ve seen in a storm except the guy who bought a whole cart full of frozen dinners because he was afraid the hurricane would knock out his electricity, or the woman who bought two dozen (!!) gallons of milk, also in the teeth of an approaching hurricane. WTF!) — the meat case is also half blown out. The hamburger is GONE. And three customers are standing next to the empty hamburger shelf asking each other if there’s any more hamburger anywhere else and when will the butcher bring out more hamburger?
People, if the blizzard comes and knocks out your power, I assume some of you have gas stoves. But not all of you! Are you planning on crouching in your dark living room gnawing a pack of raw hamburger like Gollum gnawing a fish? Do you figure hamburger will cook itself up if you toss it into one of the snowdrifts in your front yard?
Is there something about a snowstorm that demands you start a cookout?
Is there some theory I’ve never heard of that says you can save yourself from freezing to death if your home is heatless by covering yourself with ground beef?
People are weird.
So, it has been relentlessly, ridiculously humid here (Norfolk, Virginia) for the last three weeks or so. Door frames are swollen, everything feels damp including me, I am super over it, UGH.
Now, I’m not going to complain TOO much because in the wake of Hurricane Matthew there has been much human suffering not so far to the south of me in Florida, and just HORRIFIC damage in Haiti. Here in Norfolk we’re just forecast to catch the edge of the weather as jerky ol’ Matt does a donut and heads back to rain on the Bahamas some more, hopefully much deflated.
But we’re supposed to get seven freakin’ inches of rain in the next two days.
Norfolk is a major flooding area. We’re the second largest US population center considered to be at high risk for damage due to sea level rise. A lot of that projected damage happens when weather conditions cause flooding. It’s gonna flood! Thankfully my family lives in one of the higher, away from major watercourses area of the city — but that’s only personal relative safety. My town will suffer.
We’re far better off than Haiti, but I’m not expecting tomorrow to be fun.
One of these. For pity’s sake. A real one, not the one little light rail line it took Hampton Roads 30 years to plan, fund, and build.
It might be possible if this was one city with seven boroughs rather than seven cities pissing away enormous resources duplicating all their efforts seven times.
But what the hell do I know?
I know I’d rather live up here in DC where you can go see the rest of the city. Where you’re not completely boned if your car breaks down.
Hell, you can even count on buses running on time here. In Norfolk, VA, I have seen people lose jobs or not be hired at all because if you depend on the bus, you cannot be depended on because the damn bus cannot be depended on.
Because Hampton Roads, which people with sense have been recommending incorporate into a single city since roughly the Civil War era, refuses to do what makes sense.
Well, actions have consequences. You can bitch about them, Hampton Roads, or you can act.
We all know which you’ve chosen for the last 150 years. How’s that working for you? Get that major sports franchise you’ve been wanting forever? No? They said you’re seven third-rank markets instead of one big first-rank one?
Stop complaining. They’re right. And it is YOUR choice, Hampton Roads, and you continue to make it. Stop pointing fingers unless you’re facing a mirror.
- Things to do in Hampton, Virginia: Hampton Carousel (homesbykaera.wordpress.com)
- Sequester to cost Hampton Roads 12K jobs, ODU forecast shows (wvec.com)
- Roads to a stronger economy (hamptonroads.com)
So, I’m on a bus heading from Norfolk, VA to Washington, D.C. The bus is nice enough; decent seats, a place to plug the phone in, wifi.
The windows, on the other hand… there’s a nice thick film of yuck to filter out any bothersome sunlight. Or view. It comes through very nicely in the picture, I think.
Personally, I tend to be a skeptical sort. A bit of a cynic, sometimes a little pessimistic.
It’s nice to see a metaphor in person like this, to remind myself that the world viewed through a layer of cynical yuck isn’t really accurate. It’s a little blocked out, muted, not as rich as it really is, like the view through this dirty bus window.
The dirt really is there. Things happen in the world that justify some of my cynicism. But I don’t always have to look through the dirty glass, either.
I hope that makes a little sense to someone out there.
- One Thing Hampton Roads VA Needs (sabarton.com)