I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the Blizzard of 2010 was, quite possibly, one of the best things to happen to the North East.
I realize I am setting myself up for harsh skewering here.
Say what you will about the inconvenience, the dangers, the sheer exhaustion of having to re-arrange and re-plan everyday activities around a physical heft of snow the likes of which, according to my always-optimistic father, we most likely won't see again in our lifetimes. Say it and I'll agree with you. I am one of the most fortunate people in the world these days because I don't HAVE to dig my car out of the snowbank under which it's currently snuggled. I can walk places. And I have friends with 4-wheel drive. I recognize that I am biased in my bold statement.
But here's the thing- in the past week, we have focused on nothing but the weather. Our worlds have shrunk, circumscribing us to our towns and cities. Destinations once a mere ten minutes away now might as well be unreachable. We are thankful for things like electric power, a well-stocked refrigerator, and a few hours of sunshine to start the massive melt-down. For a few moments, we're not fixated on the state of the world. On the economy. On the constant bitter and draining battles between Republicans and Democrats and Independents and health are. On tragic occurrences worldwide.
This is not to say that they're off of our radars. And it's certainly not to say that these things aren't important, and it's also not to brush under the carpet the issue that, for many Americans, these things are consistently less on the forefront then they should be. But, for once, they're not being eschewed because a Kardashian got knocked up. It's because the global weather patterns have wholluped us, and we're suddenly reverting back a hundred years to a time when we have to be thankful for things like dry socks and a neighbor who will lend us a cup of flour for cookie-making.
And the local economy is thriving. Small, independently-owned stores stayed open, for the most part, especially in citified areas where foot traffic kept a steady flow of business. Anywhere that sold food, liquor, or snow shovels probably did pretty damn well in the past week. When house-bound, people want those things, in that order.
(Well, most people I know would eschew the first in favor of the second in a pinch, but I'm well aware that my cirque does not so much represent the general populace.)
And, yes, it's true, neighbors turn on one another. I read some bullshit story about a guy in Baltimore who posted a list of houses in his neighborhood who "shamefully" had yet to participate in any snow-removal in front of their houses. Yes, it's a pain in the ass to be walking down the sidewalk and suddenly chance upon a glacier in front of someone's house that hasn't seen the slightest chip of a shovel.
(To be fair- I damn near killed myself multiple times in front of the houses that were shoveled because of the sheer amount of black ice. At least when walking on tramped-down snow, I know what I'm in for, and what I'm in for is a good deal more traction then a bare sidewalk littered with seemingly-innocuous puddles.)
But, still. How is posting a public Wall of Shame in any way contributing to any greater good? Instead it encourages, as one person pointed out, a sort of "fascist" remembrance. And take into account the abilities of people to actually shovel their walk.
One of the local cops told me about the sometimes-violent turns parking spot disputes have taken. There is simply no easy answer for that. You spend hours digging out your car, run to the store for ten minutes, and return to find someone else nestled in your ONE SPOT in the giant tundra of snow. I get the frustration. But what is there to do? City officials have turned every available paved area into free parking, and that's pretty much the best anyone can make of the situation. It sucks.
All of that aside.
Dealing with these problems requires a new focus, a new outlook. Thinking of someone other than yourself is suddenly evident when you're forced into these situations. Some kind soul shoveled the walk in front of our house and laid down salt. It never even crossed my mind to buy Snow Melt, it's simply not on my radar as a twentysomething female more concerned with stocking up on diet tonic water and Lean Cuisines. But someone saw my failing and helped me out. And as soon as I figure out which kind neighbor did so, I'll thank them. Possibly with cookies.
We have choices in how we view situations such as these and, at the end of the day, you can view the Blizzard of 2010 as the Greatest Week of Suckage Ever, or you can make yourself a hot toddy and go sledding with friends. You can out your neighbor for not shoveling his/her walk, or you can conjecture that there might be extenuating circumstances and try to problem-solve from there. It's all in how you choose to view it, how you choose to enact grace, and how you decide you want this, ultimately, to go down in your own personal history book.