Seattle is a wonderful place to live. It’s beautiful, the people are nice, and you get the benefits of “living in a city” with that whole “cozy neighborhood feeling.” Seattle is also plauged by an irrational fear of snow. Flurries even. Scratch that. The chance of snow. When snow is potentially in the forecast many things will happen:
1. Schools will close in anticipation.
2. Your favorite TV shows will be interrupted in favor of showing intrepid news reporters in yellow parkas stationed in strategic spots along I5. Many will make a snowball the size of an egg to show you much snow has fallen.
3. Real news like the troubling economy, the war in Iraq, or world leaders dodging size 10 men’s shoe while speaking at a press conference, will take a backseat to #2.
4. People will freak out.
5. Grocery stores will become more crowded than an animal shelter on the 4th of July.
6. You will not be able to find a can of black beans or box of rock salt within a 75 mile radius.
7. Craig’s List will be full of solicitations to purchase boxes of rock salt and maybe cans of black beans.
I could go on but I think you get the point. Seattle doesn’t do snow. Mind you these are the same people who live inches from several active volcanoes.
Here’s something you might find interesting. I do not do snow. Yes, I’m from Upstate New York. Yes, I had to paraell park between two snowbanks when I took my driver’s ed test. Yes, I would have beaten the organic fruit out of any Northwest 7th grader who got to take a snow day because it might snow. Someday. And yes, I too become paralyzed by the mere thought a trace of the white stuff will dust my sidewalks. I DON’T KNOW HOW THIS HAPPENED! The “chance of snow” turns me into a 89 year old woman who obsesses over the hour by hour forecast.
Wednesday we were promised a snow day. It was inevitable, they said. We left work on Tuesday by saying, “See you on Thursday!” The news crews were out in full force in the middle of the night determined to be the first to claim a “first flurry” sighting. Schools were already closed. I woke up once in the middle of the night and happened to walk by a window. Hmm… looks pretty clear. But the hour by hour forecast I was obsessing on said snow was coming at 4:00 AM. It was 5:18. I guess I could grant them an hour and 18 minute leeway.
By the time my carpool buddy arrived to pick me up I was sweating in my boots, hat, scarf, and winter coat with the faux fur lining. I ran outside to meet him and was promptly blasted in the face by a warm rush of air. WTF?
“It’s got to be 35 degrees out here,” I said to Randall as I took shotgun.
“39 to be exact,” he said. “Warmest day we’ve had in 2 weeks.”
Weird. Must be some freaky Northwest weather phenomenon that causes temperatures to rise just before a white out.
We picked up another co-worker whose car was having some brake issues.
“I would risk it on a normal day,” he explained, “But not when there is the chance of snow.”
We told him we understood.
“Actually,” he went on. “I’m really terrible about driving in the snow. In fact, I hate it. Absolutely terrified of it.”
“Aren’t you from Cincinnati?” Randall asked.
“I totally understand!” I told him, grateful to have someone to relate to.
“Aren’t you from New York,” Randall asked.
Randall, our driver, is from Arizona.
That’s right, East Coast! I pinned my safety on a boy from Arizona! How do you like me now?! Huh? I’m so embarrassed.
Work was a buzzkill. Bunch of depressed Northwest transplants bummed and bitter over having the snow day they were promised ripped out from beneath them like my expensive boots on a patch of icy sidewalk. And then there was me. Knocking people’s plants over to get a better view of the windows. Jumpy and fidgety. Alternating between relief knowing even if it does snow I don’t have to drive in it and then panic because even if it does snow, and Randall is in the bathroom or something, I’m stuck here! At least for the moment.
And oh! What a kick for the co-workers to see Nail Biter Betty from Binghamton in all her panicked glory! What fun you can have with her!
“Hey Shelly. It’s snowing”
Too funny, insensitive co-workers!
“Hey Shelly. Want to go to lunch?”
“Are you people crazy! You can’t go out there! You’ll wind up in a ditch!”
They left. They didn’t even bring their hats or scarves! And when they came back poo pooing the weathermen and women for instigating this mass hysteria only to have it wind up being the nicest day in two and half weeks, I shouted at them like an overzealous fanatic prophesying the apocalypse.
“You just wait, naysayers! It’s coming! There’s still time!”
And speaking of time, we left work at 2:00. We drove away from impending doom under a large and expanding patch of blue sky and temperatures so warm I thought the digital number I was looking at on Randall’s dashboard was the speedometer. Surely it can’t be 41 degrees outside? We’re in the midst of WINTER STORM 2008! And then I saw something I hadn’t seen in days. Sunshine. Bouncing off the windows of downtown Seattle’s tallest buildings where people were inside busy doing their normal jobs and not fleeing invisible snow storms. I grew increasingly embarrassed. It wasn’t just not snowing. The freakin’ sun was shining! The nerve!
People were out and about. Presumably to stock up on flashlights and fireplace logs, candles and emergency flares. All sorts of things I don’t have in my house.
“They look cold,” I said to my car-mates. “That’s got to mean something, right?”
I was fetching. Even I had to relax. I could see my shadow after all.
When Mr. Cincinnati got out of the car he thanked Randall and me.
“Why me?” I asked.
“For one thing, you made me feel better about my own snowphobia. And I also blamed you around the office for why we had to leave early.”
“I did too,” Randall said. “Sorry.”
Not like it was totally unbelievable, I guess. Besides, I blamed both of them too. Carpooling certainly does have it’s benefits.
Interesting note to mention after I finished this:
So I wrote this last night but didn’t plan on posting it until today. I should have because I woke up to a couple inches of snow– more than enough to paralyze Seattle for real. You see, snow in Seattle is like “dog years.” 2 inches to us is like 14 inches to New York.
The news is showing people abandoning their cars on the freeways and WALKING. Walking across the freeways! Do they do that on the East Coast? For now I am going to stay indoors but I really, really want to go to work and say “I told you so.” I, like the weatherpeople, said it was going to snow. I just never said when.