It’s that time of year. The annual clearing of the grocery shelves – aka Snowmageddon, aka Snowpocalypse, aka time to shut down the city. It seems like it’s becoming an annual event.
As a new resident of Portland, I’m interested in seeing how Portlanders deal with the snow. Right now in Seattle, thanks to the local news sending people into a frenzy, you can’t find a loaf of bread anywhere to save your life. So far, I’ve gone to the grocery store down here and people seem nonplused. I appreciate that, Portland.
In November 2010, when I lived on Vashon Island, Seattle had a snowstorm that crippled the city. It was a record 2.5 inches of snow! Yes, you heard that right, 2.5 inches. At the time I was working downtown and commuting by passenger-only ferry. When the storm started to hit, they canceled all the PO runs. This meant I had to go 9 miles south to the West Seattle car ferry dock via public transportation (taxis weren’t running and Uber hadn’t been invented yet).
Even though I left work early, it still took the bus 9 hours to traverse the full 9 miles. I would have walked, but I didn’t have the right gear. Down jacket yes, but not waterproof down. The bus was packed with folks in the same predicament as I was, and people were so desperate that they were getting off the bus just to go to the bathroom on the side of the road. One person even got out when we were stalled in front of Krispy Kreme and bought donuts for the whole bus. An early Thanksgiving moment.
When we all finally got on a ferry to Vashon at around midnight, I realized there was no way to get home from the ferry terminal (another 5 miles). It was past the time when buses ran and as a newcomer to the island I didn’t know anyone with a vehicle that could make it up the steep hill heading into town. I braced for the long walk ahead, but sure enough, when I arrived on island there were good samaritans in SUVs waiting to transport people to the town center. That’s what tight-knit communities do in times of need and why I live here, I told myself. Another Thanksgiving moment.
When I finally got home, I arrived at a house without power because of fallen trees and downed power lines. And also to a house without hot water because of a burst pipe (water heater pilot light had gone out). And also no way to get anywhere because of the icy road conditions. At this point, I want to say I had another early heartwarming Thanksgiving moment, but I am not Mother Teresa, people. I piled every blanket I had on to the bed and braced for the morning as frozen tears ran down my face.
And while I could tell you that I learned something about the spirit of a community pulling together, what I actually learned that day is that I can’t live in rural areas. Every place I’ve lived since then is within reasonable walking distance to work and food. And every vehicle I’ve owned since has had AWD, just because I never want to be trapped anywhere. I also learned that it’s better just to get a hotel room during a snowstorm, or better yet, pay attention to the weather reports and just stay home.
Be safe out there, wherever you are. And thanks ahead of time Youtubers, can’t wait to see the new cars slipping on ice videos. Classic.
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TLDR: Be Cool
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