Monday, February 10, 2014

Snow in Hot 'Lanta; Again…

Subtitled: How one metropolitan city of more than seven million can be shut down before the snow even begins to fall.

Queue the extended Allman Brothers instrumental; this is gonna take a while.

 I'm going to attempt not to rant.  I'm going to make a concentrated effort to not vent my frustration at specific people.  However, winter in the state of Georgia is bad enough to turn me into one those people that fly south until spring.  Please note that the previous sentence is absurd and I'm being serious.

I left work early today as my employer presented my co-workers and I with an interesting choice.  Another one of those crazy, never seen before winter storms was coming through… just like two weeks ago.  And the building can't afford to shut every department down solely because people can't get to work.  (Which will factually be the case for many.)  Added to this, there are shows scheduled there Thursday through Sunday that are at near capacity.  So, we could leave at the end of the day and go home and then in the matter of safety, stay home until we thaw out from the ice.  (It's supposed to be 60 degrees by Friday.)  Or, we could leave now, go home, pack a bag, come back, and they would check us into the hotel across the street so no one would have to drive.  This option is either an expensive overreaction, a beautiful gesture by my employer, both, or the only choice the CEO had to offer in light of how poorly the negligible storm of two weeks proved to be handled.

And by 'handled' I mean wholly ignored.

Two weeks ago, I left work instead of sleeping there like thirty or so other people did.  That would have been the smart thing to do but I'm stubborn.  It took me seven hours and fifty-four minutes to get home, and I had to finish the last six miles on foot.  All that due to ice and two inches of snow.

Tomorrow the same people will be in public office that were in office two weeks ago (incidentally the same people that were in office in 2011 during the ice storm).  How will they react?  We don't know yet, but I feel certain they will react.  They can't ignore the storm and say, 'We'll melt out of it in two days,' like they essentially did two weeks ago.  Last time, people wondered how this could happen when the storm had been predicted for five days, if the people are made to wonder 'How could this happen again?' those people may well be made to resign.

So the chain of overreaction begins.  What's the cost of overreacting for a storm?  Probably millions, but we've all seen, or experienced the cost of not doing anything.  And so schools are already shut down (wisely), a state of emergency has already been declared, there is no more food at the grocery store.  The line at the liquor store wouldn't make sense even if it was New Year's Eve.

And it hasn't even started snowing yet…

The primary problem is one of perception versus reality.  'Hot 'Lanta.'  What do we know of this place?  We know that June-October is 'miserably hot with a high chance of drowning in your own sweat if you're out-of-doors for more than two minutes.'  We know the Braves will win the National League East then lose in the first round of the playoffs.  We know traffic at spaghetti junction will be awful if we're traveling during daylight hours.  What people in all walks of life in Atlanta don't know is that winter happens once a year--every year--and last for precisely three months.  Winter in Hot 'Lanta.  Sounds odd but I'm trying to tell you it's nothing new.

In Atlanta there is no such thing as a 'freak winter storm' or 'bizarre weather pattern that lead to cold weather' or whatever other ridiculous headlines, newscasters and media folk present.  We are used to being uncomfortably, or comfortably, hot for nine months out of the year; to the point where at least half of the population doesn't own clothing for winter or even if they do they wear their summer clothes in February thinking they can influence the weather and make it warmer by wearing sandals, a tee-shirt, and shorts and thinking positively and warmly.

Winter is not some far off distant threat, or impending doom of an untold future: winter, isn't, coming.  It's here.  Now.  And it's right on time.  Just as it was scheduled.  Please plan on winter happening once a year for three months; every year.  It always has.  It always will.

So I'm packing a bag to sleep across the street from my job for three nights.  It's annoying.  Now imagine how my employer feels knowing that thirty employees were stuck in the building just as they were and now offering to put us up for days.  I'm not talking cost, because I honestly think they are nonexistent to negligible, but… it's annoying.

There is value in doing things right the first time; setting a good precedent is a residual benefit.  What we, the people of Atlanta, are experiencing now is the exact opposite: the trickle down effect of a massive overreaction that has to take place in a good-will effort of over compensating for prior negligence.  It's a headache for us all and it's not the fault of the weather.

Winter happens in this city--just as summer does--every year.  Snow, and more specifically ice, is anything but a rare occurrence.  It's obvious there are no more boy scouts, or at least not in government positions.  Could we at the least remember--and apply--their motto?

"Be prepared."


Marion said...

May I link your blog to my Facebook page? I think people could benefit from a regular person's point of view.

Chad Hull said...

Of course. You can link whatever you like.