Aaron R. Davis
Over the weekend – a weekend where we should have all been thinking about the Great Pumpkin and contemplating how small fun-size candy bars have gotten – the northeastern US got its first taste of what’s looking to be one mightily pissed off winter.
There was, as we often see with first snowfalls, a lot of confusion and a general lack of preparedness, worse than usual because, let’s be honest, who’s really thinking of snow happening before Halloween? It’s a freak occurrence, and not something we tend to associate with late October. If you spend way too much damn time online, as I do, you saw a lot of reactions to the snowstorm. Out here in Farm County, Illinois, I count myself lucky that the worst thing to happen to me as fallout from the storm was having to hear folksy people say “nor’easter,” which for some obscure and lost reason is something that just grates on my already oversensitive nerves. I’m perfectly content to just be glad that there’s no snow here yet and move on.
Now, understand: I don’t say that to prove I’m some sort of enlightened person, sitting cross-legged with unflappable calm, coolly accepting what is with zen aplomb. (I don’t even know if that’s what zen is.) I’m not trying to be better than anyone. But if you saw any of those people online — the ones who live outside of the range of this weekend’s snowstorm — who took to their blogs to comment on the way people who had to deal with the storm reacted to the storm … well, okay, I am better than those people. I’m just going to say it. Because I wasn’t whining about how people had the audacity to complain about getting dumped with nearly 30 inches of snow just two days before freaking Halloween.
You’ve all run into these people, especially if you’ve ever read the comments section of, well, anything. There’s always that person: “I don’t understand what the big deal is.” “Why is this surprising?” “Is this really such a shock?” That person, man or woman, who is so much smarter than you, so much more thoughtful, so much more unflappable and prepared for life, that they have to take to their keyboards and bitch about, in this case, people bitching.
Taking my subject, an intense, unseasonable snowstorm, and going with that, these are the people who always rush to their blogs just so they can say “It snows every year, what’s the big shocker about that?” In this case, I saw a few variations of “It’s not that unusual to get snow in the northeast in October, damn! Everyone needs to calm down! How is this a surprise?”
These people, with their self-inflated self-image, right? Jeez, calm down everyone, it’s just a little snow, stop whining about it! You’re getting your silly tears all over my Buddha-like calm and my 19th-Century-explorer resolve. Stay firm and all that!
It’s one of the Internet’s standards: I’m going to whine about how your whining is ruining a few seconds of my very important day because I’m smarter than you.
Here’s what those whiners in the northeast had to deal with: nearly two and a half feet of snow in some areas, inaccessible roads, emergency services that were caught off-guard, nearly three million homes and businesses without power, suspension of public transit and a few deaths.
Jeez, stop whining everyone!
The self-righteous bloggers would remind us that snow is an annual occurrence. Unfortunately, so is their bitching about what they choose to see as whining, but which is actually justified worry about being cut off, being without power and heat and possibly dying.
Did you know that there were more people who lost power in Connecticut this weekend than during Hurricane Irene? Jeez, I hope none of those complainers relied on electricity to heat their homes. Well, at least they couldn’t get on the Internet and read people in their warm living rooms telling them to shut up about it.
And those people who were stuck in Boston when Amtrak stopped running and who wanted to just get home instead of being stuck on a track? Gosh, it snows, what’s the surprise here?
And what about those guys who are trying to plow the roads so people can get to work or check on cut off loved ones, but who had to stop because the snowfall was so heavy that tree branches were falling down and blocking them? Just do your jobs, guys, come on. You know the drill. Quit griping, already!
And then there was the 84-year-old man in Pennsylvania who was killed when a tree downed by the snow fell on his home. Or the young guy in Connecticut who was electrocuted to death by a falling power line. Or the people who died in traffic accidents brought on by sudden heavy snowfall in freaking October. Stop being so overdramatic guys, will ya? Good god.
Now, granted, there’s some good fallout from this. Sure, kids in the northeast won’t get to go trick or treating, but what they lack in collected candy they make up for in having Halloween off of school, and I’d like to think that’s the way things should be.
But I got to enjoy my Halloween with working heat and electricity and phones, completely free of snow and inconvenience and tragedy, so maybe it’s just going to my head. Instead of worrying about how I was going to not freeze to death, I got to wonder, seriously, did those fun-size candy bars shrink? Didn’t they used to be, like, half of a candy bar? Now they’re something like two-fifths.
No one I know died or was in an accident over the weekend. I didn’t have to wonder if my medical equipment was going to stop working while nearly three million people went dark, or have to brave a trip to the pharmacy past downed trees and power lines and nearly three feet of snow, or worry that the roads wouldn’t be clear before I ran out of food for my kids.
And if you didn’t have to put up with any of that, either, maybe you should just err on the side of shutting the fuck up before you pretend to know what anyone has to go through and how they should react to it.
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org