the one-inch blizzard

12 Qawl 166 B.E. (Baha’i calendar)
Drumbeat in my head: Badly Drawn Boy, “Epitaph”
City Urban Road Snow Winter Cold blizzard
StockSnap / Pixabay

It took me one hour and fifteen minutes to take the bus home from work today.  All because of one inch of snow felt like a blizzard.

I worked an hour late, and when I went outside to wait for the No. 16 bus at 5:45 p.m., traffic on Broadway was backed up in both directions.  Roads were slick and nary a snowplow was in sight. 

I waited ten minutes after the bus was supposed to arrive and then called Madison Metro to see how late the buses were running.  I waited on hold for fifteen minutes, with a message every minute saying “Thank you for calling Madison Metro.  An agent will be with you shortly.”  Then finally, I heard a message saying “The Metro customer service center is now closed.”    They close their customer assistance center at 6 p.m.

A little while later, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a No. 11 bus.  By this time, it was 6:20 p.m.  The last No. 11 was supposed to have come through the area more than an hour before.  I boarded the bus, and commented that I didn’t expect the No. 11 to be running this late.  The bus driver said that the roads were bad in many parts of the city.  She described how a four-minute trip down Whitney Way took her 25 minutes, and that the road was so slick that she was driving “mostly sideways.”  I was glad I didn’t have to travel that far.  She drove very carefully and methodically.  The bus dropped me off at Capitol Square and I was able to take a No. 6 home from there. 

My old home of Chicago has a very fast and efficient snow removal system.  I think it dates back to when a mayor lost a re-election bid in 1979 due to issues with snow removal in the Blizzard of 1979.  It’s rare for incumbent mayors to lose elections in Chicago, so when this mayor did, it apparently put the fear of God in every city, state and municipal official within sixty square miles.  As such, snowplows and salt trucks there start their engines when so much as a snowflake falls.

Not so in Madison.  I used to live on one of the main thoroughfares in Madison, and the street would still be only partially plowed twelve hours after the snowfall stopped.  As such, even a one-inch snowfall might feel like a blizzard here. 

But few people here complain.  I’ve heard some people say that it is the rugged nature of Wisconsin.  I think I would look quite rugged if my face went through a windshield.  Some say it’s a question of knowing how to drive in this weather.  My question is this–at what speed is it safe to drive on black ice? 

So, I really have no choice but to grin and bear it until March or April.  People ask me how I can stand waiting outside for the bus in the winter.  I reply that I much prefer it to driving on the roads in the winter.  It’s times like these that I’m glad I don’t own a car.

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