As I write this article, I look out of my office window and up and down the my quite street, which is covered in a about four inches of snow in various states of morning melt. I have come to the realization that people in North Carolina do not deal with change well at all. By change I mean, in climate weather, gas prices, and a variety of things that, as a Californian, I took for granted as always being in flux.
I grew up at the base of the San Andres fault line (yes, that’s the one from the first Super Man movie). I watched Gas Prices fluctuate by at least a dollar from summer to winter. I remember the Rodney King Riots. I remember the mountains that I lived next to (all of my life) burning completely; and more than once. I remember 6 feet of snow falling in Wrightwood, and even now on Easter a couple of years. I remember El Nino and the rain that would not stop. I remember floods. I remember heat waves. I lived in the Santa Anna Wind Coridor. We had t-shirts at my school that had the four season on them with cool pictures: Earthquakes, Fires, Floods, Riots, Welcome to California.
And midst these disasters, I watched as I and those around me, bore it with a sense of resignation. We has seen it all before, and we would see it again (OK, maybe not the riots). But If an earthquake nocked down the freeways, we found surface streets to get around. If a fire burned down homes, we rebuilt them. If flood takes out a house in Malibu, we all pointed and laughed at the stupid people how lived there knowing that it would slide off the cliff into the ocean (who incidentally tried to build about house on the same land). Fires would ravage our forests and national parks, but they grew back. That is what I grew up with.
So it started to rain a few days ago. I went on a night job and the guys were talking about how it was going to snow and that we had all better be ready. I asked how much snow was expected, and they informed me that a devastating 4 to 6 inches of snow was going to paralyze the state. Road would be closed, banks would not open, and schools would tell students to stay home for their own safety. And I asked a very stupid question, “Why?”
When I was a kid, 6 inches of snow meant that the buses that ran to Wrightwood would put on their chains and get the kids to school anyway. Fathers would wake up early, shovel snow out of their drive way, and tear down the burm that the snow plow created that blocked the end other drive way, and still drive though the now and off the hill to work. Kids would hang out at the local grocery store, and charge weekend skiers $10 bucks to put chains on their cars so we could buy candy. And yes, I walked to school when I was in elementary school, in the snow, both ways (but not up hill).
I was doing laundry on Saturday, the night it really started to rain, and the news had the following line ups, with the following lead ins, and I promise I am not making this up or embellishing at all.
“In just a few minuets we are going over to weather to find out just how bad that winter storm is going to hit us, but first we take you live to Concord to hear how the Volunteer Fire department is bracing for this potentially deadly storm.”
Cut to man in fireman’s uniform: “Well, uh, we don’t really know what is going to happen so we are planning for the worst.”
Reporter: “Do you think it will be dangerous?”
Fireman: “Well last year we had a 10 incidents statewide where the snow kept medical teams from being able to reach people in need of assistance. So the state paid to outfit all our Ambulance resonance vehicles with a chain system that lets them handle snow just fine.”
Cut back to anchor: “And now weather”
Weather Man: Thanks, well we should see temperatures drop from the 65 the are currently at and snow start about 6 hours from now at midnight. Expect to see a much as 6 inches of snow thought the state. So if you have not done so, go to the store and stock up on your essentials, and please make sure your emergency kits are packed.”
Now…6 inches of snow is a good helping of snow for people who don’t see it often. However, this happens here every year. White stuff falls form the sky, and the local authorities blow and salt the roads to make them safe. I was asked to go to the store that night to get my mother in law some coffee, and I was shocked. I was there at 10:30pm, and they close at 11pm. The store was packed. Certain items were missing from the shelves, water, peanut butter, milk, toilet paper. However, other items were left untouched. Canned veggies, meats, cheese, and other things that would be the first thing for me to grab in a crisis. The produce isle was left untouched. And, they were out of coffee. So these people may not be prepared for a good winter storm, but at least they will be awake though it all.
I drove to the Bank this morning around 10:30. Banks open at 9 here, and it is Monday the 2nd, so I have to make sure I will have enough funds to pay the Rent. The door was locked. Not only was the door locked, there was a guys standing outside with a ladder talking on the phone to dispatch saying that the no one was in the branch and was did they want him to do. They bank was closed. On a Monday morning, the first work day of the month, the bank was closed. Did I have to drive through snow covered streets to get there, no they were nice and clear. Was I standing in the bitter cold looking perplexed at the locked door, no it was 45 outside (warm for snow). Was I the only car in the parking lot, no there were 15 other people who were also waiting to conduct business at the bank. As I walk away, frustrated, I’m approached by a nice lady dress in a fur parka and a fur hat, like she was in soviet Russia in a bad movie from the 80’s. She said she was a bank employee and that they should be open as soon as the manager could get in. She was taking deposits form customers who just wanted to do straight deposits with checks. I checked her employee tag (which took a minuet for her open her coat and show me) and I left her with a deposit slip. As I drove away, I took note of the condition of the parking lot. Slushie, but still very safe to drive.
So, to bring this Rant to a close, I just don’t get it. I hear stories that a storm “threatened” to hit some of the oil drills off the coast of texas a few months ago, and the there was a gas shortage people the people here really though their would be no gas after the store hit. People had to wait in line for more than an hour, and were only allowed to buy five gallons of gas at a time. For a guy that grew up with earthquakes, these east coast southerners seem to be really twitchy. I’m beginning to understand how our nation can be so easily swayed by politicians who use fear tactics, because if this is way people here react to a mild snow storm, I can only imagine what they were like on 9/11.