Saturday, February 1, 2014

Snowpocalypse 2014: Snow Madness

     We don't do snow really well down here in the South.  That is a fact.  We're not prepared for it, and we just don't like it.  This is exactly why everything, and I mean everything, shuts down when there is a threat of snow.  That is the best thing to do when a foreign entity hell bent on destruction arrives in our normally temperate climate.  We do not have the knowledge, equipment, man-power, materials, and whatever else is needed to deal with the white devil.  However, when the weather guys miss the forecast and it soon becomes obvious that this is not going to be "just a dusting," stuff gets real quick.  Then you throw in "Ice" on the roadways, and it's everybody for themselves.  People panic, and that leads to disaster.  In this case you had nearly apocalyptic results from the White Death, and there was a picture circulating around on social media that summed it up really well.  One side of the photo had a scene from the Walking Dead television show, and the other had a well travelled highway here in Birmingham, Alabama.....they looked exactly the same.  I decided to give my experience, and account of the events that unfolded on this unfortunate day.  A day that shut down parts of the South.  Birmingham and Atlanta were closed for business.  All of what follows is true.
     The day started off really well, and we had no idea the horrors that awaited us.  Terror from the sky would soon arrive.  The terror would be in the shape of cold, white, icy fingers of destruction.  Dateline Tuesday January 28, 2014.  I took both kids to school with no problem.  One is just right down the road, but the other is in Downtown Birmingham.  We had heard about the threat of snow, but only for South Alabama.  The weather guys on TV seemed extremely confident that we would have no issues related to the white stuff, so we all went about our business.  I came home from delivering the kids to their destinations, and sat down in my chair for a moment of quiet.  I began to study about Minerals and their formulas for a lab quiz that I had on Wednesday.  I was completely oblivious to what was happening.  After about an hour I set my study materials down, and walked to the kitchen for another cup of coffee and I saw doom.  Snowflakes by the millions were falling, and falling fast.  I looked outside, and I noticed that the snow was sticking to the roads- really well.  I thought to myself, "Hmmmm, that could pose some issues, because it is not supposed to rise above freezing for a couple of days."  I reassured myself by saying, "Probably not a big deal, the weather guys said it was going to be cool."  I turned on the television, and I noticed that Jefferson County Schools were closing in 30 minutes.  That's Jesse's school.  Normally we receive calls on events like these, but on this day the call didn't come.  Luckily, I happened to see it on TV.  I called my wife, and told her what was happening and left to get Jesse.  The roads were already icy by this point, and combine that with people who don't really understand how to drive on snow and people end up in ditches.  Or hitting trees, or other people, whichever comes first.  I was able to get Jesse rather quickly, and with no problem.  I then went home, but my wife called me and said, "Maddie's school is closing can you get her?"  I knew this could be one of those decisions that could change the entire outcome of my very existence, because I've been down this road before when it comes to winter weather in Alabama.  It seems that everything turns into Bizarro World, and at the drop of a hat your destiny can change.  Of course, I knew that I couldn't leave my lovely Miss Madison at the mercy of Snowmageddon, and we began a harrowing adventure that took us directly into the belly of the beast.  Downtown Birmingham awaited us, and what laid in store was destruction.  Be afraid, be very afraid.
     The drive was an adventure to be sure.  I've been in the middle of a blizzard in 1993, I've worked Ice Storms and snow events as a police officer, and my wife hails from the Great State of Wisconsin- where 3 feet of snow is a mere inconvenience, so I've got a leg up on this snow stuff.  However, the biggest killer when it comes to driving in these kinds of conditions is overconfidence.  This word sums up my very existence.  I'm the guy who wants the ball in crunch time, although there's no ball to have anymore cause I'm too damn old.  I'm the guy who will get right in the middle of whatever trouble comes around, and would be the first to cross the proverbial "line in the sand."  That's just how I roll.  I'm a confident person.  Some may say cocky, and that's fine, but one thing is for sure- I'm not afraid to roll the dice, play the cards I'm dealt, and then see where they lay.  However, when driving on snow and ice you have to throw all that out the window and do the exact opposite of what instinct tells you to do.  Like I said, Snow is Bizarro world, at least in Alabama.  On the way to Maddie's school we began to see cars in ditches, already!  The radio was talking about the mess that was the highways, because it seemed everyone in the Metro Birmingham area was on the roads trying to escape at the same time.  Visibility was low, and the road was slick.  Jesse was hiding in the back seat....but we continued on.  Like a dog in search of a bone, a squatcher in search of bigfoot, a philosopher in search of the meaning of life, well you get the point.  There was a mission, and I was up to the task.  Once we actually entered the Death Star that was Downtown Birmingham it became apparent to me that to survive we would have to be resourceful.  I was ducking and weaving like the great Muhammad Ali.  I almost got KO'ed by a Caprice Classic with bald tires by Boutwell Auditorium, but we escaped unscathed.  Upon arrival at Maddie's school we were aware that time was of the essence, and I grabbed her up and we were gone.  To be honest, all I wanted at this moment was to escape the Snowpocalypse that I knew was coming.  On the way home we had an incident on an entrance ramp that almost ended our journey, but again resourceful driving saved the day!  Just remember, steer into the skid.  If you go the other way it ain't gonna end good.  Like I said, Bizarro world.  The radio kept saying that people were abandoning their cars.  Leaving them on the side of the road.  The governor had declared a state of emergency, and I just knew that the next thing I would hear was that the Zombie virus was overtaking the city.  I immediately thought of Han Solo cutting open a Tauntaun so Luke Skywalker could stay warm, but we don't have any Tauntaun's in Alabama unfortunately.  At this point I began to get texts from my Wife.  I can't text and drive on a good day, not that you ever should do that.  I just don't have the phone skills for all that.  I threw my phone to Jesse, and said communicate with your mother.  Jesse is no stranger to the text message, but he only does brief messages.  Sometimes one word.  Maybe this is texting etiquette, but when the question is, "Please tell me you are safe and at home."  The simple answer, "No" does not give enough information, even if it is technically accurate.  I tried to relay to Jesse what to say to his mother, but he goes his own way.  Wonder who he gets that from.  She was clearly concerned for our safety, and she got responses of, "Could be, Maybe, and I don't know" from my sole male heir.  I told him to text exactly what I said, and he qualified the text by saying, "Dad said," as if to imply that one could believe this statement or not and he was exempt from any blame that could arise.  We had made it painfully close to home, and were stuck again in Post-apocalyptic traffic when I realized this journey had taken about three hours to this point.  I began to sing, "Three hour tour."  Then I realized those lyrics were from the Gilligan's Island theme song, and things didn't turn out very well for the SS Minnow.  However, Ginger and Mary Ann would be there so it could be worse.  Eventually we did conquer the snow madness!  We made it home unscathed, unhurt, and with all our mental faculties...well mostly.  Thankful could not begin to describe how happy I was at this time.  Cheryl texted us again and asked, "Should I come home?"  I gave Jesse, who still had my phone, a long description of my thinking to type, but it was sent, "No, Maybe, cars wrecked, Dad said......"  That boy is a mess.
    Cheryl ended up being stuck at work overnight, but she was safe and warm.  She was able to come home the following day, but many people were stranded.  It was quite a disastrous event.  We've been cooped up in the house for a couple of days all together watching the news coverage of the event.  Sometimes you can have too much "family" time so patience is wearing thin.  We've watched movies, played XboxOne, Mario Kart, and other games.  We were stocked well when it came to the notorious bread and milk that is all the rage in the snow.  Nothing goes better with Snow and Ice than Milk Sandwiches!  The great thing about where I'm from is when things like this happen it brings out the best in folks.  We had people getting out and about just to help others.  They got in their 4 wheel drives and assisted people in need, just because it was the right the thing to do.  There really are some good people in the world, and that is inspiring to say the least.  Those of us with adverse reactions to snow and ice need to stick together, and it looks like we've done that pretty well.  I know there have been some people out there who have made fun of my beloved home in the South, but I for one have never been more proud of the people in this State.  Even the weather guys.  I ain't mad at ya.  That's all I got from the epicenter of Snowpocalypse 2014.  All I need now is a good pair of Sun Britches and a nice warm beach to ease all the pain and suffering.  Yep, that'll do.