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community building | environment

Thoughts on the Snow Day

Portland woke up on Tuesday to everything covered in white, and promptly went about falling apart. Trimet made the amazing decision early in the morning to not chain up the busses, and by 8:00 nobody could accuse them of overreacting to inclement weather. According to Oregon Public Broadcasting's "Oregon Considered," Portland Public School District-along with most of the surrounding districts-announced first that they were going to remain open, and then decided to close. One of the main problems with how the schools went about this decision was actually waiting until many children were already at school, and then basically telling them to go home for the day.
Our fair city has a history of overreacting to severe weather, or rather, acting like the weather is severe when it is far from it, so it isn't hard to see why some of these organizations made these errors in judgment. One of the easiest actions to take in situations like this is to assign blame when there may not really be goat to be scaped. I overheard a woman loudly yelling at the streetcar driver that he needed to get out and clear the rails, and asking him "how the hell could he let this happen?" Look, lady, what the hell would you have done in his place, gotten out an used a hairdryer on the tracks? Sometimes there's just nothing anyone can do to make it all better.

As far as placing blame on anyone for what happened because of the weather, some people simply need to sit back and look at what they can do, or have already done. The most common sight during the morning commute, aside from all of the figure skating busses, were large cars with small women using four wheel drive to basically go in no direction all at once. Of course, after careening madly down a hill while their car was still in park and running into another supposedly parked car, many people chose to angrily ask any other drivers involved where the hell they learned to drive. C'mon now people, like Eric Clapton so eloquently said after he stole the song from some unknown black blues singer: "Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself."

Even children playing in the snow had their share of accidents.Most news outlets were repoprting on Tuesday afternoon that in Vancouver, a young boy was hospitalized after the sled he was on ran under an oncoming minivan, nearly crushing him beneath the wheels. So far, this particular accident had been a shining example of how to react in these situations. The parents of the child haven't blamed the driver, and have so far not threatened to sue the city of Vancouver for not having the roads cleared by the time the car was driving towards the sledding kid, because they realize it is not something you can place blame for. I have to commend all involved for handling this like mature adults should.

I don't want to seem like all I saw was bad driving and poor choices by those in charge. I saw many people helping stranded motorists move their cars. I saw as many passengers getting off the bus to try and help out as I saw seated behind the steamy windows scowling. The only was for our city to make it through any disaster, no matter how minor people from the midwest and east coast may think it is, is to alwaus learn from it's mistakes and try to not make them again.

We are going to have bad weather again-maybe in the near future and maybe not for a long time-and there will always be lapses of judgment and bad behavior as a result. There will be insurance exchanged and chains snapped. There will be school days canceled and babies delivered in snow bound ambulances on their way to the hospital. There will be yet another winter morning where the only law in effect is Murphy's. All of this and more will happen again and again in our lifetimes, and we need to help each other through it, and remember that it's nobody's fault when everything goes wrong and everybody's responsiblity to make it right.


address: address: SE Portland

Dont' forget about foot traffic 19.Jan.2007 02:17

Pedestrian slippers

Don't forget about how different it was to walk slowly down the middle of deserted residential streets without a car in sight. A snow sculpture showed up here and there. The eyes took in new sights. There wasn't much traffic noise, making for a less anxious moment by someone fortunate enough to have their workplace close during the snow and ice. Aside from the hardship and strife there were still moments that slowed the pace of the city and this can be cause for reflection and some kind of creative response.

Pedestrian Slippers

Personal responsibility 19.Jan.2007 11:02


I believe I read a story about a guy who had a few drinks and was pulling his 9-year-old daughter on an inflatable tire behind his truck. He took a right turn, she swung around and smashed into a brick bench and was killed - and that could not have been "pretty." I'm not entirely sure if this was local, but I think it was.

I'm sure it seemed like a fun idea at the time, but . . . .

Toys 19.Jan.2007 16:39

Den Mark, Vancouver

Yes, that was local, & another local story involved an atv pulling a kid, who crashed & had to have his spleen removed. Cars & trucks & atv's have become toys, essential toys. The more toys & the bigger the toys, the better. These aren't tools, or means to an end. They ARE an end, in themselves. Toys. Get yourself a big toy, & ain't life a blast. Until you get bored, at which time, get yourself the LATEST toy, with the latest FEATURES! YAY!

We're doomed.