Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bad Weather Brings Out The Stupid In People

It seems the groundhog was wrong this year. Through some miracle, it wasn't spooked by its shadow or the thousands of onlookers gathered in eager anticipation, so felt resolute that we wouldn't have six more weeks of winter weather. However, out of the past four of those six weeks, we spent two in negative temperatures, and two more having nature puke more snow on us than we've had all winter. Now there's this giant winter storm that doesn't promise to let up anytime in the next few days. This is what we get for trusting a glorified rodent over the most sophisticated meteorological equipment modern technology can give us.

So I woke up last night without power. I went ahead and got ready for work in the dark anyway. I figured I wouldn't have to do much when I got there because the store's policy during a power outage is to lock the doors and wait for power to come back on, and considering it is only three blocks up the road from my house, there would be a good chance the store wouldn't have any power either.

I went to my car, which was encased in an inch-thick sheet of ice with about three inches of frozen snow on top, and tried to open the door. Of course, it wasn't budging, but the panel was buckling from the pressure. I considered using some window cleaner to melt the ice away from the door cracks enough to get it open, but when I considered that it just meant I'd have to try to scrape off the layers of snow and ice before I could drive it, I figured it wasn't worth it. The weather wasn't currently dumping, and it felt warm enough that I figured I could walk the three blocks. Normally, I don't like to walk to work at night because I've seen the kinds of self-righteous, violent bullshit that happens in this town at night, but I figured that not many of those types of people would be out in the middle of a winter storm when the area had no power anyway.

Of course, when I got to work, I found out that somehow, it just happened to be on the next grid so it had power. Not only that, but it was the only store in the greater metropolitan area that did have power. And apparently winter storms that knock out power not only draws people out of their homes, but it does it in droves. And only the incredibly fucking stupid ones. (The smart ones will, when confronted with a power failure at 10 PM, will just sleep it out.)

We've known this winter storm was coming since at least last Thursday, when meteorologists reported it covering the entire West Coast from Nevada to the Pacific and from Canada to Mexico. That gave us roughly two full days to prepare since it was supposed to hit the Midwest on Friday night. We got an extra half a day because it didn't actually hit until late Saturday morning. Of course, Friday night saw almost no traffic. When it was clear and dry and safe outside, people decided to stay in and apparently hope the weather wouldn't hit instead of making any sort of provisions for when the storm inevitably would. Once it was entirely unsafe to drive, that was when humanity as a whole realized that they were out of absolutely everything, and they embarked on a long journey to find any place that might be open so they could purchase their necessities.

I guess one could draw a common thread between a majority of the impoverished and a majority of the ignorant and postulate that only the ignorant are going to go driving through several full cities in an ice storm with the hope of finding any store that had not fallen victim to the apocalypse, then postulate that the impoverished are in the basic needs module of the Hierarchy of Needs and hence only tend to see five minutes in front of their face, and use this conclusion to explain the most likely reason that every stupid motherfucker in six cities hit my store within a span of about four hours. No one thought to make sure they had batteries, flashlights, food, and the subjects of their addictions stocked up in the very likely event that the area would lose power.

Instead of bulk purchasing, which is cheaper in the long run, most of these people only buy individual servings of their most important necessities, and when they run out they go out to buy more. I see many of the same people all through the night buying upwards of five cigarillos or six cans of beer individually when it would be more economical and convenient to just buy packs and maybe practice some moderation. Unfortunately, most people don't think in any fashion that resembles common sense. People were coming as far out as five cities away to our store to buy nothing more than their cigarettes and beer. If your compulsion for alcohol requires you to drive five cities in an ice storm, the only place you need to drive is the nearest AA meeting, because you have a problem.

Of course, I complain, but truthfully, if it comes between a choice of sitting at home, at night, with no power, fully awake, without anything to do or the ability to see to do it anyway, and going to work, I'd much rather be at work. At least it's something to do. I'm not necessarily complaining about the luck of the draw that my store would be the only one open in at least five cities, or even the amount of people I had to deal with, by myself, all night. It's the utter stupidity of the bulk of these people that really irritated me.

— One guy was convinced that this "freak weather" had something to do with the telephone outage earlier this week. Yeah, good luck on cracking that conspiracy wide open, moron.

— One local newspaper suggested, in the exact same article about the widespread power outages, that instead of listing a telephone number, people should go online to find the latest road conditions. On their computers with NO POWER.

— I heard one guy excitedly explain that the traffic lights were out so it was a straight shot all the way down the road. Oh yes, because it's anywhere near safe or sane to go careening without caution through an intersection dangerous enough to normally warrant traffic control, especially when the road is covered in a thick layer of slush on top of a thick layer of ice. If the traffic light is dead, you're supposed to treat it as a stop sign. If you procured your driver's license legally, you'd know that. If you have that mentality about it, then there's a very good chance that someone else on the intersecting road has the same idea. Oh well, two fewer dangerously ignorant people in the world, I guess.

I'm thoroughly convinced that should the Biblical Armageddon ever occur, humanity would just be supremely fucked. Hellfire, brimstone, and scorpions could be raining down from the heavens, and people will still go out driving through it in search of beer. (Why scorpions? Because if anything can withstand being dropped from the atmosphere with fire, it's a scorpion. Those things are tanks. I've smashed one with a shoe before and it just walked it off and started darting its stinger at anything within reach.) I'm pretty sure that if Jesus Himself came down to collect souls, more than not would ask him to hold on while they stopped in for a pack of smokes and some condoms.

np: Pete Townshend - "English Boy"


Anonymous Tina said...

Did you happen to hear the news anchor on Channel 8 announce that people could go online for information on locating shelters in thier area? We had no cable or internet service for 3 days - and we were the lucky ones. People who don't have any power, certainly can't go online to find shelters.

8:12 AM  

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