Monday, February 07, 2011

A Deadly Plague 16 / 30

There are few things in the world as loathsome, self-perpetuating and dangerous as stupidity.  I think it’s time for us to take a stand, to rise up and demand action.  No longer can we allow this vile affliction to be propagated through our culture and society.  If we won’t stop it, who will?

Yes, that’s right, I have been out among people again.  I know, I know, you’d think I would know better by now.  I’ve said it time and time again, people are dumb.  The depths they sink to in an effort to prove me correct though is rather astonishing.

We’ve had a lot of snow in Halifax lately.  Trust me, this isn’t a digression.  A few feet in places.  Of course, today it was bright and sunny, with temperatures in the +1 to +2 range.  So of course, when that thermostat goes above zero, this remarkable thing happens.  Snow, composed primarily of frozen water, melts.  That melted snow, we call water.  Of course, water, unlike snow, does not stay where it has been shoveled – it flows, usually in a downward direction, pulled along by this strange mystical force called gravity.  Now if the snow that had previously fallen has been shoveled off of sidewalks until those sidewalks are clear to the concrete, that concrete is frequently the lowest spot.

Fast forward to this evening.  As the sun was going down… wait, I need to explain this to people apparently…  as the earth revolved on its axis – wait… back up again… the earth is a spherical object flying through space, it spins on an axis… ok?  We’re all on the same page now?  Groovy.

So, as the sun was going down, the warmth that had covered our city during the day ebbed, and temperatures dipped back down into the freezing area.  That meant that all of the water, previously running down the sidewalks got cold and turned back into ice.  Ice, of course, can be very slippery.

Now that we’ve set the scene – let’s pick up with a discussion of stupid people…

As I walked to Superstore tonight to pick up something we needed for dinner, I was greeted with two women in their forties walking toward me on the sidewalk near our local Canadian Tire.  One of the ladies slipped, a minute amount.  He foot skidded perhaps two centimeters.  Fortunately her friend was right beside her and was able to hold her up after she flailed both arms and shrieked like she was being stabbed with a machete.

Now I thought to myself, “Self, that seemed to be a pretty big reaction, one could even say an over-reaction, to such a minor slip.  But then again Self, even minor slips can be scary.  And besides Self, you don’t know – maybe that poor woman has a balance impairment of some kind, or perhaps she was emotionally and psychologically scarred from a fall on the ice as a child.  Perhaps, Self, if you would stop judging people, you might pose that she lost her father in a tragic slip-and-fall accident as a child, an accident that she witnessed Self.  Did you ever think about that!?!?”  You see, I try very hard to not judge, to think about alternative reasons when someone does something that seems… ummm… dumb.  So I just shook my head ruefully and offered a small hope that her father was healthy.  And then she spoke.

“Damned city should be doing something about this!  I am going to fall and sue the shit out of Canadian Tire for this!”  she began, and then continued with “somebody could get hurt.”

Now that last part made sense.  It was icy.  Someone could, indeed, be hurt.  But it was the first part that made me pause and almost comment.  A few choice ones flew through my brain, and I had to clamp my mouth shut to prevent them from flying out.  “Sorry ma’am, but the city’s Deputy Director of Weather Control is out of town this weekend”,  or  “I am sure that Canadian Tire does sell heaters big enough to warm the entire province, which they clearly haven’t used today – damn, you are right!  We should all sue them!”

Now, if she wasn’t from Canada, I could understand.  I listened carefully, thinking I would catch an Australian accent, or maybe a Caribbean one… nope, pure Cape Breton.

People, it is winter.  And in Nova Scotia, that means ice.  It is no one’s fault if the sidewalk is icy when the sun goes down after a warm winter day.  It is called weather, and there is nothing that anyone can do about it.  They had shoveled the walk, very well in fact.  There was at least six inches of visible lawn on either side of the walk, so they had actually shoveled / plowed an extra foot of snow off the walkway, presumably to deal with this exact situation.  Had they salted or sanded it during the day, it would have all been washed away in the runoff.  Short of stationing people on every sidewalk with a bucket of salt, a shovel and a margarita, what else would you have them bloody do?

Personal responsibility people.  Take some bloody responsibility for your own actions.  If you are walking on a sidewalk in the winter, particularly on a day like today, be careful, and acknowledge that it’s no one’s fault.  And don’t wear tennis shoes – great on clay, lousy on ice and snow.

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