What did you do during the Snowquester, Daddy?
“It was a day that will be long remembered,” we will tell our grandchildren. “It was like Saint Crispin’s Day, but more heroic. Gather ’round, and let me tell you the story about the call that changed my destiny.”
“Not that one,” the grandkids will mutter. “That is a Backstreet Boys lyric, and it really dates you.”
“I am trying to be dated,” we will rumble. “I am telling you stories of the olden days. That just screams ‘dated.’ You don’t see me moisturizing and trolling Paste Magazine for music recommendations, do you?”
(That was, in fact, how we had spent the day before the storm, but the kids will conclude that it would be rude to remind us.)
“No! Listen well, and you will learn how I survived the Snowquester.” we will bellow. “I barely made it out. Everything was shut, and with good reason! All night we watched, in building terror, and then,” we conclude, waving our arms, “there fell a few inches of wintry mix, although none of it stuck, and everything was closed, even and especially the federal government.”
“That doesn’t sound very hard,” the kids will murmur. (After the impact of climate change, this conversation will literally be taking place on an ice floe, as a pack of genetically engineered wolfsharks circles menacingly, and we will have to concede that our grandkids have a point.)
“It was very difficult,” we will say. “We had to drive! To work! Both ways! Through no ice whatsoever, unless we were coming from the suburbs where there was actual accumulation.”
But they will have stopped listening, too busy building a fire using only twigs and ingenuity.
What is wrong with us?
Boston may get more snow. Snow in New York may inconvenience more people. But I defy any metropolitan area to panic more about impending snowfall than this one right here.
I’m trying to figure out how to express in words what people in the nation’s capital feel at the approach of snow. I think it’s something like what people elsewhere in the country experience at the approach of . . . actual problems.
It had a name and everything. Saturn. Snowquester.
And then, as usual for D.C/ proper, it turned out that ‘snow big deal.
Thanks to years of experiencing D.C. snowstorms, I have a completely erroneous idea of what to do in the face of real disasters. All the Storms So Bad They Shut Everything Down turn out to be Drizzles So Innocuous That Everything You Wanted to Go to Was Still Open. I have this vision that if we ever, heaven forfend, have some sort of Really Serious Global Eruption, I will be able to walk out in the light acid rainfall and purchase more toilet paper.
Is there a deeper metaphor to be wrestled out of this? What is it about D.C. and snowstorms? Isn’t this a sad admission?
All the essential services kept going, of course. Pizzas were delivered. Dunkin’ Donuts was open. But the D.C. government shut down, and so did the District’s schools, and all non-emergency personnel at the federal government had excused absence. And for what, exactly?
D.C. treats the snow as it treats everything else. It is a Major Disaster of Unprecedented Proportions, and we must stop everything we are doing to wave our arms and scream about it.
You can tell that your job is not absolutely essential when you can stop doing it the instant it threatens to snow. The snow does not even have to stick! “I’m sorry,” we say. “No Department of the Interior today! It’s going to rain a little.”
But the snow must go on.