Wednesday, November 02, 2011

I'm Talking 'Bout the Weather...Shoosh You

It's snowing again.

I say again because last Wednesday Denver got the heaviest snow in two seasons (about 6" at The Grotto's front door). Apparently, Mother Nature had had enough of the drought in Colorado and wasn't about to wait for a more appropriate month to bring us measurable snowfall.

Last week, while it was a pain in my toosh to dig my car out from under several inches of heavy, wet snow particularly as I was thoroughly soaked to the bone due to my disbelief of impending storm and my subsequent ill-preparedness, the roads were, surprisingly, not only passable but, practically clear. It was the kind of snow that makes people like me who A) love snow but B) hate to drive in it quite happy. We had the best of both worlds. We could enjoy the lovely effects of the snow and still drive relatively unhindered.

What is happening now isn't quite the same case.

Now, I'm no stranger to snow. The first 20 years of my life were spent in Wyoming. The last 20 years have been spent in Colorado. Wyoming snowstorms, particularly, are no laughing matter. More often than not, the snow falls sideways because there is rarely a Wyoming day that the wind doesn't blow at 40+mph gusts. I learned to drive in this kind of weather and I rarely mind it because I know it, understand it, was taught how to maneuver in it by a couple of fantastic drivers (my father, a Wyoming native, and a wonderful driver's ed teacher). They also taught me how to respect the weather and to know the exact moment when dangerous moves into treacherous territory - a signal to stay the hell home.

In Colorado or, at least, in Denver, blizzard conditions are relatively rare. We get heavy snow and the side streets will remain unplowed but, generally, the wind doesn't blow much and the main arteries throughout the city aren't too awful most of the time...

Except during rush hour.

And then? All hell breaks loose.

From 9 News - traffic speeds on I-25 (my route to work) at 8:15 a.m.

Driving in the snow-packed and slushy streets of the city is much MUCH different than driving along the surface streets during a full on blizzard in Small Town, Wyoming.

First of all, Wyomingites know what they are doing and they do it very well. Unfortunately, too many drivers in Denver just plain don't have a clue. On the one hand, you've got the Nervous Nellie who is terrified, white-knuckling the steering wheel, riding their brakes, afraid to go faster than 10 mph. On the other, you've got the Angry Al, falsely confident in his SUV, clearly feeling self-important, darting in and out of undefined lanes trying to navigate around both the Nellies and the sensible creatures like me. These are the ones you see crumpled in heaps along the barriers of death or overturned in the medians of doom.

Additionally, Wyomingites also understand the importance of car maintenance and good tires. Never in my life have I seen more Silly Sams trying to coax an old Buick on bald tires along city streets, fishtailing, spinning out, and flat out stuck than I have here in Denver.

A snowy morning here - even when there is only an inch or two on the ground - is an adventure in idiocy. Seriously.

So, I loathe driving in Denver when the roads are bad. And, for a long time, I thought perhaps it was just because I was getting older and even more anxious (is that even possible?) and was thus turning into a Nervous Nellie myself.

But, last night, it dawned on me after a few friends posted on a social media site about how people who panic about ohmygawdsnow shouldn't live in Colorado and acting quite cavalier about how easy it is to drive in snow and how people who are afraid to drive in it are stupid (I'm paraphrasing) that it's not because I'm a Nervous Nellie or sick with anxiety. It's that most people, when it comes to snow, either have no respect for it or don't know how to deal with it and they all pile onto the highway going too fast or too slow for conditions.

In other words, it's you that's the problem. Not me. Hee hee.

So today, I'm home (in fairness, this is because currently my car is sandwiched in between two cars whose owners thought leaving me 2" in front and behind was enough to get myself out of my parking space). I'm remoted in to my desktop at work, snug in my pajamas, drinking entirely too much coffee, and beginning to smell the pot roast slow cooking in beef broth, red wine, and a crap ton of garlic.

And I'm unashamed to say that, yes, I didn't go to work today because I was afraid. Afraid of what happens when all the thousands of Angry Als in their SUVs who think they can stop on black ice whip around me and the Nervous Nellies slam on their brakes in front of me. You bet I'm afraid.

And at home. No hat, gloves, or scarf required.


MsSparrow said...

I wish I had the option to work from home, it would have been awesome not have to drive with the Nervous Nellies and Angry Al's this morning. Because god knows I saw plenty of them. Not to mention driving less than 5 miles an hour for 6 miles. But alas...

I don't think that people who are afraid to drive in the snow are dumb, it's right to be cautious and careful especially when you have less control over your vehicle than you would normally. But I don't understand the people who rush the grocery stores and stock up on end of the world supplies on the mere thought of snow. There is a difference between being cautious and prepared and over-reacting. I've never understood the OHMYGODPANIC reaction that the mere idea of snow can cause in some people.

Take precautions, be careful and most of all be safe.

Glad you can work from home with your pot roast and super awesome kitteh :D

Just Jane said...

Oh! Well...we rushed the grocery store on Monday night while everyone else was dealing with trick or treaters *laugh*.

Plus, Acr0 saw fit to take me to stock up on Bottle Caps on Sunday. I've got everything I need for at least a week of snow-pocalypse.

Diva said...

Wyoming = mostly people from Wyoming

Denver = lots of transplants

I read years ago that over 50% of winter traffic accidents in New Mexico involved drivers from either California or Texas. Having learned to drive in Cali and been behind the wheel in Texas, this statistic did not surprise me at all.

I believe Denver suffers from the same problem in that both Nervous Nellies and Angry Als are not from here and haven't been taught how to respect snow and ice on the roads. They are the terrified "I've never done this before" fraidy cats and the arrogant "This ain't so bad" assholes, as it were.

There's just more of them here than anywhere in Wyoming.

BTW, I spent my first five winters in NM being a Nervous Nellie. Would that snowy states required a class in winter driving before allowing licensing.... *sigh*

Michael said...

I also grew up driving in snow, but it's not the same game here in Minneapolis that it used to be. All heavy snow means now is that people on the highways slow down from 65-70 to something right around the speed limit. I hate it. I hate winter. I hate snow. I hate cold.

Stay safe (and warm!)

Nervous Norman
Terrified, white-knuckling the steering wheel, riding my brakes and afraid to go faster than 10 mph!