Thursday, December 25, 2008

In Which both coasts get a whuppin

This is how I imagined it to happen: some meteorologist was at work when he noticed an ominous mass of gray looming over Canada and heading South. He scratched his head, thought 'now that can't be right!' and then asked he went over to the other computer where his meteorologist buddy stationed, and got a opinion. The 2nd guy sidled over, saw the screen and said "For the love of GOD man ALERT THE PUBLIC." And then meteorologist numero uno pressed a small red button and the city went to pieces- well, first there was the Day of Waiting, and then everyone through themselves eagerly, heroically, into first class chaos.

The Day of Waiting was a dry day. The schools had all shut down but not a single flake drifted down from the sky and the city sneered. Newspaper were cluttered with headlines about Seattle's senseless and extreme Snow Phobia. The people of Seattle were due for a White Christmas! howled the opinion columns. Bring it on, said the people, George Bush-style. The 16% of the Seattle population with a sense of humor listened in hilarity as the weatherman debated whether or not the city was (in their words) "Due for a big dump." Yes, the Emerald City was waiting, watching, hoping, praying to their all-accepting, gender-neutral God for their magical Christmas snow shower.

And that night, it started to snow. At first, I hear, everybody was charmed. Sledding in the streets, classes and jobs cancelled, the streets full of bundled up perambulating admirers. What a treat. And then, everything went to hell.

I'm talking about the kind of hell that ensues on a city laced with incredibly steep hills, that owns no plows, that refuses to salt the roads to protect the Puget Sound, when it is under a non stop siege of snow and ice for seven days in a row. I'm talking about the gas stations running empty buses crashing through barriers and dangling over interstates kind of hell. Add to that the 40,000 university students from UW (go dawgs) who perhaps wanted to get home for the holidays and found that even if their flight was taking off (and I assure you it wasn't), they couldn't get to the airport because the roads were closed, the taxis stopped running, the buses stopped running, and long-term parking was full... And then poor, beleaguered Alaskan air inadvertently gasses their passengers with de-icing spray. And then the airport runs out of de-icing spray altogether.

Yes, at this point, the good people of the Northwest are less then charmed with the situation. The Portland airport shuts down entirely, Sea-Tac airport transforms into emergency shelter for all those doomed travellers, and every grounded plane chipped further away at the facade that the GPNWers were game for a hearty winter adventure.

Erstwhile, Boston was being taken from all sides as well. Because of its location on the Eastern Seaboard, nobody payed much attention except those who were trying to fly into Logan. And, as it turns out, the vast majority of my family was attempting to travel during this total meltdown from Seattle into Logan. And so they were loaded into a plane of howling babies, made to wait on the tarmac for hours until take-off, one what turns out to be the very last Alaskan Airline flight to leave Seattle. Then came the relative peace of floating over red states, uncertain circling over the whited-out city and a surprisingly neat landing on a single plowed and crowded runway. But then what? It's midnight, the streets are shut down, the buses aren't running, and the farm 150 miles away in the Better State may as well be on a yet undiscovered star. Add to this the family's predilection for unchecked anxiety and what you get is something that really puts the 'why the fuck do we bother' into 'Christmas'. Why the hell did we decide to split our time between the coasts, one that's continually in the grip of a Nor Easter and one that becomes totally retarded after two inches of snow? That was truly a poor choice. When I'm done with my tour of duty with New River I'm moving south and staying put.

Here are some pictures from the Seattle PI:


Ali said...

Taken from all sides-Ha!

Sebby said...

I think I saw Skip in the airport picture...he was stuck at Seatac for 8 hours one day.

Nice work on getting your own domain name! And merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Festive Kwanzakah! Etc!

Sebby said...

PS-2 inches of snow became 8 inches of snow pretty quickly.

PPS-I was one of the people who was ok with the snow all week long (and still am). Then again, I'm not from Seattle. More snow would be nice, I didn't even get to build a snow-fort!

Melina said...

Skip is actually in one of those suitcases. He saved a bundle on airfare.