A week's worth of snow and cabin fever can really get you thinking about roads, ice-clearing trucks and school closings...for a week or so... and then the snow melts.
As the week’s snow and ice covered anything and everything that didn’t move, it gradually revealed decreasing levels of patience on my part … and likely with other residents of Marietta and Cobb County.
By Day 2 of the Snowpocalypse or Snowmaggedon or whatever silly tag that television and Internet hounds like to give these generally non-cataclysmic events, I found myself already cursing at the roads, the skies and at the snow itself. I’m only 42, and I was turning into someone’s curmudgeonly great-grandpa.
The week started out innocently enough though.
My daughter, who had been tracking the weather reports, decided it would be prudent to have several friends over for the weekend. In case we became snowbound, at least she would have her best friends at the ready; if not, the Monday morning ride to school would be a carpool.
I agreed to the plan, figuring we would be snowed in for a day at most. I didn’t plan on a four-day slumber party. Surprisingly, I had planned the food situation well enough to have food for two days and nights. My early on-set cabin fever coincided with the moment when the fruit ran out, so I was happy to take a trip to a Kroger’s down the street, but I turned away when I saw that every check-out line had at least 30 people queued up.
Let them eat cat food.
Having finally gotten out onto the road, I founnd that snow- and ice-packed streets reveal two types of drivers: Those that cannot drive in inclement weather and those that think they can. The former will lock the cruise control at 3 mph no matter how clear a stretch of road might be, and the latter cannot keep the foot off the gas even as the back end of the truck fishtails into a ditch or tree.
I also learned that I possess a particular lack of patience for drivers who turn on their hazard lights … and then continue to drive. If you feel the overwhelming urge to turn on the hazard lights, then get off the road! We already know the road conditions are hazardous; we don’t need your blinking lights.
Ok.. there were a few blessings. My daughter had nearly a week of cherished memories with her friends. And I was pleasantly surprised that—for the first time ever during a major weather event—my Internet connection didn’t go out.
Truth is, these snows happen so infrequently in the South that we really don’t know how to behave or react.
What are we supposed to do when roads have not been effectively cleared for five days? Should we be incensed that schools were closed all week long? Should we be angered when grocery stores get cleared out when we’ve known for days about impending snowfall?
I thought quite a bit about this while attempting to walk around Marietta Square and through Glover Park last Thursday, pondering out loud why the parking spaces and the sidewalks remained caked with ice. Was it fair for me to expect the brick walks to be completely skid-free?
One only has to visit Cobb County’s Regional Transportation Management Center with its enormous video wall monitoring traffic to be completely overwhelmed by the logistics of taking care of every road in the county, more than 2,500 miles of them. From this hub, the county’s traffic engineers handle more than 50 traffic cameras and 500 traffic lights around the county. From your own nice patch of Cobb, you tend to forget that there are 699,000 other residents in six municipalities and elsewhere into South Cobb, East Cobb and Northeast Cobb.
Conversely, a county of this size only has eight pieces of equipment specifically designed to treat ice and 28 transportation workers dedicated to clearing the streets. And those workers have been working 12-hour shifts all week as they dumped more than 300 tons of sand-salt-gravel mixture onto the streets.
A funny thing though, the same folks who complain about the lack of snow plows in Cobb just may be the same ones who would shout out first about a budget line item six months from now allocating $867,000 for snow equipment.
Perhaps the bottom line is this: You need someone to invest in snow equipment? Buy the snow tires, chains or Army-surplus tank yourself if you want to get out onto the road the next time.
In the meantime, most of us will continue to grumble for the next few days. But when the final flakes of snow and ice finally melt away and disappear, so will our concerns about snow days and snow equipment ... at least until the next blizzard three years from now.