Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter Wonderland? . . .

We had a "major" storm here in Wichita this week. By "major" I mean there MUST be at least a half-inch of snow out there and the roads were icy and slick at one point to the extreme of making me actually drive the speed limit. Sends a shiver down the spine to see Mother Nature turn her back on us mere mortals. GROAN!

I think I'm just "hardened" to bad weather. I grew up in Upstate, New York. We coined the phrases "Noreaster" and "Lake Effect Snow" - we went to school for anything less than eight-over-night-inches. I just don't know what it means to live in relative fear of minor snow and slush conditions. I guess every one's idea of "snow" and "hardship" is relative.

The general panic here in Kansas, to me, is laughable but this is not the first time I have lived in an area where a dusting of snow can put the world in a panic BUT - unlike Wichita - it was justified in my "once upon a time" reality. At least in the DC/Baltimore area the populations and urban demands of the area lead to logistical challenges that can actually allow a little snow to create a crisis.

That being said - this "storm" had me thinking.

Six years (and a life time) ago, I was a 500 pound man living in Washington, DC. My life was pretty much about work and home, home and work. I was heavy enough that I would generally take cabs to and from work vs. work the four blocks to/from my apartment to the Metro and the two blocks to/from the Metro to my office. Yep. I was that fat, tired and lazy. I am not proud of it but it is reality. I was very lazy but I was still a bit of a workaholic and a neurotic to boot. Here is where the post gets relevant . . .

President's Weekend of 2003 - we had a full blown blizzard in the DC area (I am pretty sure the entire Northeast got hit by it but I know the beltway did). We got FEET of snow. And the streets were closed. Businesses were closed. The Metro was closed. The federal government was closed. The entire city was closed. My office . . . was OPEN. For those of us (myself, the boss and one other guy) that were able to WALK in to work.

So, for two straight days, I got up an extra hour early for work. I took my normal shower. I watched my normal Today show. I ate my normal four Pop Tart breakfast (frosted cinnamon sugar was my go to - frosted fudge worked in a pinch - blueberry if I was feeling "healthy"). I drank my normal 1 liter of Diet Coke. I put on my khakis, button down and sweater. And then added another sweater, a jacket, a scarf, a hat, gloves, socks (never used to regularly wear them), another pair of socks and my boots. I packed a change of clothes (the sweat I would put off on the walk was not conducive to staying in those clothes for the next 10 hours). I turned off the TV and the lights. I grabbed my portable CD player (iPods were not a given at the time) and my David Gray White Ladder and Dr. Dre 2001 CDs (mandatory listening at the time - don't ask why) and stepped out on to the front porch. I cursed my life and started down the buried stairs.

And then I walked. 2 1/2 miles up the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE - over the Capitol (they cleaned those sidewalks and steps off very quickly) and up Pennsyvlania Avenue, NW. It was like the Presidential Inaugural Parade . . . only twice as long . . . and without the millions of adoring fans and the Secret Service detail. And the limo just behind me if I got tired. It took almost two hours. Each way. Each day.

It was peaceful (there was NO ONE out there) and it was beautiful and it was sort of majestic to see the monuments, statues, Mall and city in all that snow but it was also miserable. I weighed 500 pounds.

I guess, like I said though, every thing is "relative".

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