When I was young, my mother (who grew up in Chicago) could not understand why people freaked out so much about impending snowfall. And she really hated it when they predicted snow just before her normal shopping day. She told me the worst were these older suburbanite ladies who would literally clean out the shelves of all canned food. She told me once that some woman was literally cleaning out the shelves with a scooped arm, not even looking at the cans. Most people also bought huge amounts of bread, milk, and eggs and then they are gone. It was always bread, milk, and eggs. It's still true, and I wonder why? I used to have this boss who joked these were "French Toast emergencies," because what else could they be making with those ingredients? [as a side note: to those at PhilCon? Apparently when I posted this story to the BWSMOF list, someone in PhilCon staff got the bright idea to serve this as your Sunday breakfast, so if you hate French Toast, that's my fault... sorry...]
Over the years, the level of panic waxes and wanes. As I have said before, we're a pretty transitory area, so every four years or presidential change, a new wave of people move in, and we have to start the training all over again. Sometimes the area over-prepares, and sometimes it doesn't prepare enough. I recall during one huge blizzard in 1996, the mayor of DC went to Bermuda, leaving the whole city in a total panic (yes, he's the one that took cocaine). Other times they have this media panic that couldn't match a nuclear winter if it happened. Fox 5 news is the worst. It's so bad, it's like some farce on real news. Most of the writing the anchors have to real is stilted prose like it was written by an overdramatic teen in her diary.
Dear viewers. OMG! Snow! So much, like I was walking around, and stuck rulers in the drifts and junk, and no lie, it was like, a FOOT deep! We may be stuck here for DAYS! I am bundling up because it will be cold, too! WTF? My life is SO tragic, like I am sure! The Metro is preparing for THE STORM OF THE CENTURY and they have like, de-icing trains, and the busses will try and run on schedule, but don't slip and fall under the bus because it might run under your legs and YOU WILL DIE! I am so staying home. No school. This sucks! Save yourselves!
So I have to watch crap like "Storm of the Century: Blizzard 2003 - live updated coverage." They have these poor Johnny-on-the-spot reporters in some slushy area of DC with plastic rulers, exclaiming that snow has "already become 2 inches deep in just 4 hours!" The news goes into a micro-fact frenzy, and they blast news specials on frostbite, getting trapped in your car, and all kinds of patter. I feel old, because I find myself saying, "Blizzard of 77. Three feet deep with an ice crust on top. No school for a week, and my friends made tunnels in drifts that we could stand up in. You couldn't shovel because there was nowhere to shovel TO. Our town was shut down for days." If we had that now, I am sure Fox5 News would start speculating on glaciers.
ICE AGE 2003! [Dramatic music - lots of computer graphics] Don't panic, but this IS how glaciers start. Exclusive Fox5 Glacier-cam shows that, yes, some large chunks of ice, some as big as a car, are forming around the Potomac River. Could this mean the new Ice Age? A scientist in a white lab coat we spoke to, Thomas Holtz at the Smithsonian, an expert on things that happened a log time ago like Ice Ages and all that stuff, could not stop laughing, perhaps he was hysterical with fear, but it's too early to tell ... back to you in the studio.
And people drive so BADLY through the snow. Too many people drive WAY too fast, and even more drive WAY too slow. What's really bad is all those people in their SUVs which think they are immune to ice and snow banks. Today, I have to go to Baltimore to finish the job I started on Tuesday, and I am going to have to deal with Pokey and Speedy on the highways.
This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000303.html