Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Chicagoan Looks At Washington D.C.'s Snowtime Comedy Capers

There are precious few endeavors at which Chicagoans can snidely proclaim their superiority. Certainly not in the realms of judicious choice of civic leadership or in professional baseball prowess.

But Chicagoans are pretty good at contending with the snow. God knows they get enough practice. The denizens of Washington D.C. are not.

In fact Washingtonians are laughably inept by our standards.

That is why I have to laugh at the thought of Washington D.C. today having to endure an onslaught of up to 3 feet of snow.

Washington is a Southern city. It was carved out of pieces of Virginia, capitol of General Robert E. Lee's Great Commonwealth and bits of the Southern part of Maryland.

It is crawling with people from the sun drenched Carolinas and Texas and Georgia who work in Congress and the bureaucracies. It is home to thousands of diplomats from such balmy places as Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Brazil.

These people are clueless when it comes to handling snow.

I spent more than a decade in that city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm and I can attest to this.

During my first year there, my Cheesehead Wisconsinite roomate and I were listening to the radio one winter morning before work and the D.C. radio jocks were feverishly going on and on about a "snow emergency." They were rattling off the lists of schools and workplaces that were closed. They were issuing dire warnings to stay huddled inddors, if at all possible.

Then we walked up the stairs of our English Basement apartment into the DC morning to see 3 inches of snow on the ground. 3 inches!!! The Cheesehead immediately laughed and proclaimed: "Snow Emergency???"

DC denizens do not know how to drive in the snow.

Their immediate response to getting stuck in a snow rut is to floor the pedal and create an intractable ice patch in which they then will be truly stuck.

No one apparently ever taught the drivers ed students of Atlanta and Zambia that you do not turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction to correct a skid.

Consequently, the scenic DC Rock Creek Parkway is today, almost certainly resembling the demolition derby event I once witnessed in Elkhart, Wisconsin.

DC denizens do not know how to shovel snow.

Up and down my block in Upper Northwest DC, I would see people trying to clear their sidewalks with brooms and dustpans.

One South Carolina woman I knew in DC tried to eradicate the ice on her front steps by pouring hot water on it!! This in sub freezing temps.

And as for municipal snow removal from the streets -- forget about it. The DC municipal government which is a paragon of inefficiency and ineptitude in the best of times (remember Mayor Marion Barry?) is the municipal equivalent of Moe, Larry and Curly when it comes to street plowing.

Snow will usually have to wait to melt on the sidestreets before DC will ever get around to clearing it.

And DC people apparently don't even know that snowballs are not lethal weapons. This was comically illustrated several weeks ago when a black DC cop was filmed pulling his gun on a bunch of snowball-fighting college kids, because his car had just been hit by a snowball.

But the funniest thing is the response of the Federal bureaucrats to the "snow emergency" announcements.

On days with any snow accumulation, the federal agencies announce that they are closed except for "essential personnel," who are expected to summon up the bravery and pluck of Admiral Byrd of the Arctic and somehow manage to master the elements and come to work.

Since no bureaucrat ever wants to concede that his or her very presence on the job is not absolutely vital to the very life of the Republic, the bureaucracies have extremely low absentee rates when that "snow emergency" announcement is made.

I am not making this up.

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Comments invited, however anonymous commentors had better deal directly with the issues raised and avoid ad hominem drivel. As for Teachers' Union seminar writers -- forget about it.