Against stupidity the gods themselves labor in vain.
Joan of Arc said that, or rather Schiller put the words in her mouth, and having started out in life as a big Joan fan I seem to be back on her turf this week. However, assuming you have access to good satellite imaging, any incandescent uprush you might observe in the Northern Virginia area, datelined this afternoon, had nothing to do with any sort of auto da fe. That is the best thing I can say about it.
My Albino Ex used to say I had a redheaded temper. I think my fuse is actually fairly long but the keg at the end is nobody’s toy. After ten days of heaving the snow from two outright blizzards, accepting slow clearance as reasonable, staying off the roads, and absorbing the loss of business, I came home from the gym this afternoon, with a half hour to spare before receiving an eighty-something, lame, halt client, to find my street scoured clear… and the sidestream snow from a gratuitous backhoeing operation packed head high in my driveway, along with every other drive on my block.
I did not just yell Shit. Or Damn. I would probably have to go question my neighbors about exactly what I did say because I had reached bare-sark mode at that point, heaving big clots of packed and jagged ice over my shoulder with a coal shovel, but I recall attaining a fine admixture of the fornicatory and the blasphemous. I managed to get the siege-wall of ice parted enough to admit my client just about the time she arrived; I was still yelling Jesus Fucking Christ, as I recall, when she levered herself out of the car on her cloisonne cane (quite the grande dame, she).
The county has a helpful webpage all about the wonderful things their snow removal teams are doing for us, to say nothing of the government’s main page where they actually posted a video of the “snow team” with their bare faces hanging out.
I sent them this:
I note this from the main [Arlington County Government Website] page:
“Updated 2/16, 2:51 p.m.: In the interest of public safety, the Arlington County Fire Department requests that residents clear snow away from fire hydrants and storm drains.”
I have been doing this since the first storm. I have conscientiously kept the sidewalk of my property completely clear. I have dug out the hydrant. I have dug channels to the storm drain on BOTH sides of the street. I have shoveled the STREET so that there would be less chance of vehicle collisions and wipeouts. I have shoveled until my hands shook from fatigue, and I am a pretty husky person.
After ten days of relentless shoveling, I came home today, one half hour ahead of a visitor expected to my address who is eighty-four years old and has an artificial hip. I found my driveway — which I had cleared generously, cleaning the street to the plowed area — blocked in to just about the height of my head by a mix of snow and wheel-packed ice that had been shoved to the side of the street by removal operations. Every other driveway on the block was in a similar state, meaning that any vehicles in the drives were trapped while all incoming vehicles, like mine and my guests, were forced to park on the street. This does not really improve conditions.
We were much better off before this bit of “help” from our County government — we could all get in and out of our driveways and the street was passable by two cars going in opposite directions. If anyone on the block called about getting the street clearer, I’m betting they’re sorry they did.
It is a shame I did not get a photo, but I had half an hour to hack a path through that mountain of snow so that my elderly, infirm visitor could find a way to my front door. I chose not to waste a single second of it fooling with a camera. I cleared the sidewalk again too, since the removal operation had tossed snow back onto it at a depth of about a foot for several yards.
In addition, the drain on the south side (just east of the Stop sign), which I cleared immediately after the storm and had kept clear, is now under several feet of hard-packed snow and ice. I am sorry, but I am done with this. If Arlington wants its storm drains clear, Arlington had better tell its snow crews that. I am considerably fitter than most, but I am simply not prepared to excavate through that much heavy snow, piled twice deeper around the drain in all directions than two blizzards ever made it.
I copied it to the local paper. I’ve seen every major snowfall this county has contended with for fifty years, and I seriously don’t think any of them have been fucked up as badly as this one. We swore in a new County Manager only a few months ago. She needs to get gone. Don’t let the door hit your ass, do not collect $200.00. This is the kind of stupidity Joan was talking about.
The second client on the schedule was a guy from my gym. He pulled up in his pickup, saw me out there shoveling and swearing, put her in Park and pitched in.
I cut him a discount.