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society is breaking down

Last night, I told the husband, “Whoa, work is closed AGAIN tomorrow!” marveling at the effects the recent fubar weather conditions had had on the city in general. As a result, we’ve been in the house mostly non-stop since Friday.

A few hours later, he said, “So, do you have work tomorrow?”

I thought for a minute that maybe I was in Mulholland Drive.

“No, I already told you I didn’t.”

“Oh. That was today?”

I knew what he meant. What day was it? How long had we been here? Where was everyone? Perhaps the news reports were all pre-recorded to dull panic and the Snowpocalypse had actually been the Apocalypse. And everyone important was sealed in a bunker somewhere. And the real panic wouldn’t set in until we realized that there were no more french fries anywhere. French fries could be extinct right now and we wouldn’t even KNOW.

These past few (I’m not going to attempt a guess at the precise number) days have been pretty wild. I don’t remember much about the last time that we had really significant snowfall like this, which was back in 1993. I only remember that it hit on a Saturday and my mom and I drove into town anyway for my ballet class. There were about 6 other people there total, when normally there would have been a few hundred cycling in and out throughout the day. We couldn’t generate enough body heat to make the cavernous ballet studio not tortuously cold so we all went home, which my mom tells me was a harrowing drive.

This morning, I looked outside and had to laugh. It’s like we’re living in some CGI movie. And everyone seems to be acting correspondingly daffy.

For instance, a woman parked in front of our house Friday night. Saturday morning she came by and tried to dig it out but just couldn’t and I told her it was fine to leave it there until she could come get it because our car was still stuck at my mother-in-law’s house and it would be a day or so until we could park our car there.

At some point on Sunday, she came and got her car but put a chair in the space. In front of our house.

This seemingly innocuous act made our heads explode. If you’re not familiar with the Pittsburgh Parking Chair, I direct your attention to this timely article in the Post-Gazette.

Technically, she did dig out the spot and under a more liberal jurisdiction she would have claim to the space. BUT she KNEW it was not her space to have because we talked about it and we permitted her to leave her car there. If I had known she was just a space pilferer, I never would have agreed. I would never move a parking chair, because I am not a jerk, so she had essentially check-mated me into giving her our space.

This snow is turning people into lawless savages. Today it’s the parking space. Tomorrow she’ll probably try to eat my brains.

There have been other signs that people are collectively losing their shit. Yesterday a woman knocked on the door and we had the most bizarre conversation. She asked which car was mine and I pointed to ours, which was resting in our horrendously angled driveway that the husband had to shovel out because SOMEONE had taken the space in front of our house. (Getting the car to the house was a whole separate ordeal that took several hours and resulted in two flat tires and a close brush with frostbite. I don’t want to talk about it.) After we established which car was ours, the woman proceeded to pepper me with non sequiturs to the point where I was questioning the sanity of both of us.

“Did you see the woman?”


“With plastic bags?”


“Thank you.”


Under the best of circumstances, I have a sinking feeling that life is but a slowly unfolding zombie movie. When you throw in three feet of snow, it doesn’t do much to comfort me.

It’s also been really disheartening to listen to everyone whine about the effects the storm has had on city operations. I just don’t understand the outrage. I am not the biggest supporter of Luke Ravenstahl’s administration, but I don’t see the city’s response as “dropping the ball.” These are not normal conditions. These are quite exceptional conditions and would bring even the wealthiest cities to their knees. Under normal circumstances, I think the city’s response and road clearance rates are pretty decent. But there’s an ENORMOUS amount of snow out there. Just figuring out where to put it must be a logistical nightmare.

The public transit system has a Twitter account that has been absolutely amazing keeping riders informed of route changes and delays and as far as I can tell has responded to everyone that has thrown a question at it. Not only that, the people running the Twitter account have been extremely courteous to abuse thrown their way. I understand that it sucks standing outside in the cold, waiting for a bus, and then being stuck on that bus for hours, but please. Look around. Road conditions worsen faster than they can be improved and everyone’s impatience to get back to normal doesn’t help. Is it really any wonder that navigating buses through that is a losing proposition?

The only way through this is with cooperation. If you can stay inside, do so. If you’re an employer, don’t pressure your employees to risk everyone’s safety by making their way into work. If you have to go out, assume that everyone is doing everything that they can to keep you safe and to keep life functioning as normally as possible and respond accordingly. Don’t bitch.

Although, all of that hot air might make the snow melt faster…

It’s just disheartening to see people not sucking it up. For every Good Samaritan tale of people helping each other out or forging their way to work so that we can buy milk and bread, there is a huge chorus of whining that makes it not seem worth it. I would hate to think that we would need to experience a REAL disaster to gain some perspective.

13 comments to society is breaking down

  • I cannot BELIEVE that parking chair thing.
    .-= Sara´s last blog .. =-.

  • I agree. We are collectively losing our minds.

    We have been playing Apples to Apples with the neighbors and this has been making it very evident. “Honorable” has been defined by the movie Men in Black. All communication has totally been broken down.

    Currently reading Hello Kitty books to the kids and making up my own twisted stories like Mystery Science Theater.

    Things are very bad.
    .-= JessicaAPISS´s last blog ..Cabin Fever Cure โ€“ Disney on Ice This Weekend at The Verizon Center =-.

  • People don’t like things to go outside of normal. You have to believe that the assholes rise to teh top just because they’re the ones bitching and moaning. The smart, kind folks are inside watching movies and trying to stay out of the way.

    Good luck down there. I hope it clears up soon!
    .-= Kizz´s last blog ..And Now Back To Our Regularl….blah blah blah =-.

  • Dean J

    Luke cut the budget to the plows by 20% this year, which was just unfortunate timing; this really is a twice-a-century amount of snow, and planning for this would be dumb.

    The problem is that it’s been six days, and I’m yet to have seen any of the main streets be well plowed; Forbes, Fifth, Centre, Baum, Friendship, and Penn Ave were all terrible two days ago, before the second round of snow started. I still have 18″ of snow on my street, as the last plow through was Friday. The only plow I *did* see was rolling down Baum… with the blade up.

    I don’t think Luke dropped the ball, but something between Luke and the drivers just ain’t right. At the very least, clear the main avenues well.

    • @Dean J, it’s also very important to consider that the DPW workers are affected citizens themselves. I’m sure many of them are having a very hard time getting to work and are having to find alternate child care. I’m just not convinced that this is the civic failure people are making it out to be.

  • Dean J

    Child care for plow drivers is a new one for me; never really considered it.

    All the plow drivers I’ve ever known (which, admittedly, is only 3 or 4), LOVED heavy snow, as it meant crazy-good overtime.

  • Okay, two things. My gym is awesome on Facebook and Twitter, they updated closings and delays all week, around the clock. First person to comment? Pointed out a typo in the date on their Web site: “Please fix the Web site.”

    I had to comment below, not addressing her, but thanking this guy for keeping me informed so thoroughly as a customer. Who has a Wii Fit AND a shovel to keep my heart rate up.

    Then? We “finally” got a big backhoe on our court on…whatever day it was. Monday? My neighbor who is, admittedly, an older woman but is still working and mobile every day had gone out after they moved a bunch of snow near her car the day before and stuck a BROOM in it, with a sign: Do not move any more snow here.

    Seriously? There was nowhere to put it. The guy had to work. She came out and chewed him out, and then moved her car and SAT in her car in the way of him and his partner in a pickup truck. My mom finally went over and asked her to move so they could finish. She came back before they were done. No one would say anything, so I did. “PLEASE let them finish. Please.” I felt bad but honestly? Probably 100 people live here. It’s not about any one person in particular. And no one was taking her space, trust me. The dude next door? WATCHED me poke around at my poor buried Beetle and said, “I don’t like that snow going behind my car.” I stopped because I didn’t want to escalate him, but he has a huge Bronco down the street.

    And I’m sorry, but that chair in the space in front of your house? Inexcusable. I don’t know what happens to people. And I don’t like how angry this behavior makes me. It makes me feel irrational and retaliatory and I don’t like that.

    I have a disabled uncle stuck in his house with no electricity. Thank God my sister is close so she can walk to him if need be but it’s tough going out there now. It hurts my head to think about pregnant women and people with medical needs, not to mention people who have no homes or sketchy situations. I am a county/employee with the days off and electricity (so far) plus the wherewithal that got me my own food and facility management around here so I’m straight. And now my apologies for length and I will stop and hog my own bandwidth. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Good post.
    .-= Laurie´s last blog ..(Don’t) Let Her Sing =-.

  • And that was more like four things.

    Plus a fifth: the backhoe driver? Nice guy. We gave him some Tylenol and water, he said he’d had three hours of sleep in almost as many days. Nice. There is not an unlimited workforce here…last I checked we weren’t staffed with robots.
    .-= Laurie´s last blog ..(Don’t) Let Her Sing =-.

  • I totally would have moved her chair. I think it’t ridiculous. Normally I wouldn’t move it, but holy hell, that was blatantly rude on her part. Or maybe she was saving it for you?
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..Snowmageddon =-.

  • “What day was it? How long had we been here? Where was everyone?” — Oh my god, you’re living my life.
    .-= Sweetney´s last blog ..Previously On… =-.

  • Kelly said: Getting the car to the house was a whole separate ordeal that took several hours and resulted in two flat tires and a close brush with frostbite. I donโ€™t want to talk about it.

    Oh please do!

  • Sara

    Breaking it down a bit differently (repost from a friend):

    according to the post-gazette, there are 2,000 lane miles of streets in the city.

    there are 51 trucks. assume that 5 are broken down.

    that’s 46 trucks.

    That’s just 43 miles per truck.

  • juli

    i love how you broke that down sara, quite amazing how i can dig my car out 3 times in as many days and yet it takes 9 days for a plow to come down and free my entire street.
    the parking chair thing, i have to admit this is the first time i have ever done this, but to be fair i leave on a dead end road that public works refused to do. i literally called my districts public works office and the lady answering the phones told me she didnt give a crap about me and hoped i froze over and died. nice isnt it? good to see my tax money at work. even though i am doing the parking car thing it is not in front of anybodies house and is almost 5 blocks from my own home so that means i have been walking in knee deep snow for 9 days to get to my car then digging it out!

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