Friday, December 6, 2013

Chicken Little Syndrome

If you are from the north, or anywhere that is snows on a fairly regular basis, you will probably find today's post a little on the absurd side. I promise you that what follows is an accurate representation and I am in no way exaggerating. You only need to spend one day in Texas during an ice storm to realize how truthful I am being.

We are having an ice storm in Dallas and the world is coming to an end. As soon as the weatherman foretold of the coming icepocalypse the entire metroplex lost its everloving mind.  Nearly every man woman and child could aptly be renamed Chicken Little at this point in time. It doesn't matter that we have lived through storms just like this before, some even worse, this will always be the reaction. Every. Single. Time.

The first symptom of the oncoming icy doom is an intense fear of being trapped inside for long periods of time and not having enough food or water to survive. I know that according to the forecast the wintry mix is only supposed to last for two days, but that means absolutely nothing. The inability to drive for more than a day means we will all starve to death.

I totally agree that you should have a stock of food and water in case you are stuck at home and the power goes out or your pipes freeze. Of course you should probably keep a case of water around your house for emergencies at all times. You should also probably always have at least two days worth of something to eat in your house, even if it is just peanut butter and pickles.

Going to the grocery store you would think that people never kept any food in their house whatsoever. The shelves are practically bare come the day before the storm hits. Notably the water aisle is desolate, canned soups are completely gone, most canned goods are pretty well picked over, and there isn't a frozen pizza to be seen.

Also, because of the high level of panic everyone is exhibiting, the general atmosphere of the grocery store is like the Hunger Games. I nearly got run over by an 11 year old in a school uniform because I stepped into the aisle as she was trying to rush by. Her mother didn't even pause to make sure I was alright or tell the girl to watch out. I have been grocery shopping the day before Thanksgiving and people weren't as mean and ruthless as they are the day before an ice storm in Texas.

Now that we have pillaged the grocery stores we are prepared to hunker down in our houses and wait out the end of days. All the food supplies are in the house, there is a stack of fire wood (if you are smart) in case the power goes out, and almost all work and school has been canceled well in advance. This is a good thing because Texans do not know how to drive in ice and snow.

First off we can't get into our cars. No one owns a suitable ice scraper unless they are a transplant from the north. The plastic things we can buy around here are only good for really light ice. When there is 1/2" or more ice coating your car that thing is going to break. I can't tell you how many people I have seen or heard of throwing hot water onto their windshield only to watch it shatter the glass underneath. De icing our cars is pretty much a Herculean effort. 

If we can manage to defrost our cars then there is the nightmare of trying to drive. I know my friends in the north love to roll there eyes at the way we panic over 1/2 an inch of ice on the roads, but that is a big deal for us. We don't get to practice how to handle our car skidding on black ice. Most of us have no idea which way to turn the wheel when you hit an ice skid. Most of us will end up in a ditch or someones back yard if we hit an icy patch with our cars.

Anyone who does venture out drives about 15-20mph the entire way. There is typically only one lane people drive in; the lane that someone before them created in the ice and snow. This lane normally straddles two lanes. Everyone is pretty much content to drive in a slow single file line with good distance between each driver mostly because we are (justifiably) almost as terrified of the other drivers as we are the ice on the road.

Highways are pretty well unthinkable in these weather conditions. We don't have the benefit of having salt trucks to run about spreading salt over the roads to help driving conditions. What we do have are sand trucks. I know my cold weather readers are probably cringing at the idea of pouring sand over ice on the roads. Trust me it is worse for those of us driving in it, but it is all we have. We only have maybe two days like this all year, why would we have salt trucks or snow plows?

In a couple of days the storm will have passed and the ice will have melted and people will become mostly sane and rational again. Everyone will comment on how the weather wasn't quite as bad as they expected, and make it like they weren't worried at all. They will all swear up and down next time they will be more prepared.

Then the next storm will come crawling in and Chicken Little will appear again.

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