Each time Washington is slammed by a snowstorm, those of us who consider ourselves locals are reminded, again, what weather wimps we are.
With each snowfall we are saddened, again, by what living here has done to the once robust, macho types who were heck on wheels (or snowshoes) back in the day. But shortly after moving here most of them are seduced into becoming East Coast weather weenies who cower indoors (with their kids) when winter howls.
In fact, the government should make a study of what happens to people — especially of the male persuasion — when they migrate east or cross the Mason-Dixon line and become orphans of any storm.
We locals all know people from the real world — upstate New York, New England, Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul — who walked a dozen miles (uphill both ways) to school when it was so cold birds froze in mid-flight. We have all met people who, while trekking to class or a 4-H Club meeting, had to fight off packs of savage wolverines intent on devouring their younger siblings.
I personally know several people who sometimes had to fell trees (sometimes without an axe) to get to school, or rescue neighbors. Men who lashed logs together to build rafts or emergency shelters who, since coming here, look like they would have trouble bending a coat-hanger.
Where did we go wrong? What have we done to them? Is there something about drinking Potomac River water that turns the most independent, self-reliant, I can-handle-it guy into a jellyfish in yoga pants?
Yesterday was typical. Our first big snow storm of the year. The weather folks, who have been very, very good, first predicted 3 to 6 inches of snow. Later they raised the ante to 4 to 7 inches. And cold. Pipe-bursting cold.
Washington, D.C., is almost totally urban. Sixty-nine square miles of buildings, monuments, residences and some nice parks. The public schools run buses, but only for kids with physical disabilities or special needs children. Others walk, take the city bus or subway to school. Few encounter wolf-packs. But D.C. (as a river town) is hilly. You are nearly always going either up or down. Slippery too.
Most of the city’s elite — elected and appointed — send their children to private schools where the tuition can run up to $38,000 per year. More if they board. The private schools sometimes close when D.C. public schools don’t. Children (especially theirs) are precious. Can’t be too careful.
Schools in the Maryland and Virginia counties surrounding the city also closed yesterday, even before the first flakes hit. Probably a good move. While some communities are highly urban (Tysons Corners, Bethesda, Rockville, Alexandria), many parts of Montgomery County in Maryland are isolated, rural and hilly.
The government also shut down before the snow. Again, probably a wise decision based on what has happened in the past when feds were told to report to work, then sent home early. Those often produced massive, five-hour traffic jams and fatalities too. So telling people not to come in at all is generally better than bringing them in and then sending them back because of bad weather.
Still the wimps vs. real men argument will probably never end. Consider this from close-to-retirement Tony in Central Michigan:
“The government is shut down in D.C. again. Not picking on you guys, I understand that most of you don’t know how to drive on snow and ice, and with the traffic there I think its probably a good call. It is cold here — below zero. It was 1 out when leaving for work. No problem with me. Only have a one-car garage and my truck sits outside. But the kids got me an electric start for Christmas, had it installed just after and it has paid for itself. As soon as I was dressed, I just hit the button on my key chain inside the house and started the truck. It warmed up and was nice an toasty getting in. It used to be a cold ride into work since I only live two miles from the office and the truck cab never really got warm. It was a great gift. Supposed to get to 10 below tonight. I love this kind of weather everyone should get out in this because it will kill any germs have might have or be carrying. It is cold clean air at its best. I think it explains why I do not get sick very often. Take care and stay warm. 63 days to go.”
Fed agencies in DC open Weds. under two-hour delayed arrival Due to wintry weather conditions in the D.C. region, federal agencies will be open Wednesday, Jan. 22, but a two-hour delayed arrival is in effect. Employees also have the option for unscheduled leave or telework. The Office of Personnel Management says employees should plan to arrive for work no more than two hours later than they would normally be expected to arrive.
USPS falling behind in upkeep of postal facilities The U.S. Postal Service’s financial woes are forcing the agency to put off vital maintenance and repair work of facilities across the country, according to the USPS inspector general. In 2011 and 2012, USPS left some 19,000 repairs — or 18 percent of the total planned repairs — uncompleted.