It's always interesting to observe how extraordinary occurrences affect otherwise rational people. And no, I'm not talking about the Falcons being in the playoffs.
I'm referring to last week's once-in-a-lifetime snow "event" -- once-in-a-lifetime, that is, for those of us who have always called the Deep South home. At least, I assume it's once-in-a-lifetime, but maybe not. Now that "global warming" has conveniently morphed into "climate change," probably the next threat we can expect is a second Ice Age.
Oh, wait. I think it's already here.
I have friends and relatives in states where heavy snowfalls are as common as gang-related shootings are here. They seem amused to learn that we all huddled inside for three days, that schools were closed for a week, that store shelves were stripped bare of staples. They don't understand that, faced with severe winter weather, Southerners lack the tools necessary to cope, such as snow plows, tire chains and the sort of common sense that might otherwise prevail.
One prime example of irrational behavior that I observed last week was people shoveling their driveways. I'm not talking about steep driveways -- just normal, level driveways, completely cleared of snow, while the streets into which they led were still covered with four inches of ice.
Seriously, what's the point?
People who live in the snow belt shovel because, after the municipality comes through and plows or salts the streets, their still-covered driveways are the only remaining impediment to driving. Also, the plows often create high berms at driveway's end that must be leveled to allow access to the street. And remember that, whereas we measure frozen precipitation in inches, they're usually talking about feet.
But if there are no plows, no salt trucks, no "feet," and the street in front of your house is going to remain covered in snow and ice until the temperature rises sufficiently, what possible advantage does it create to shovel your driveway? You're merely putting off the moment of truth by a few seconds: "Look, honey, the roads are clear. Oh, wait, that's just our driveway. Watch out for that ditch!"
Even more mind boggling is the person who not only shovels his driveway but deposits all of the newly shoveled snow into the street at the end of the driveway. Has having a driveway free of snow somehow become a desirable goal in itself? Did I miss a letter from the homeowners' association?
Look, if the snow is so bad or your vehicle is so lame that you can't even back out of your driveway, you have no business being on the road. Please stay home and shovel your patio or something. Maybe you can have a nice barbecue.
With any luck, by the time you read this column, the snow event will be a distant memory anyway. Not that it was all bad. For a whole week, I didn't read about any gang-related shootings.
Rob Jenkins is a free-lance writer who lives in Lawrenceville. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.