As I write this, we are nearing the second 24 hours of this winter’s first big lake-effect snow event. (Or we might be actually into the second 24 hours, as I’m not entirely sure when the snow began falling yesterday.) We got a bit of a break overnight when the snow band moved north, but this morning it moved right back south again and despite assurances from the Local Weather Folk that the snow bands would be “oscillating” a lot (this apparently being their new Word of the Day), from where I sit right now, I’m not seeing a whole damn lot of “oscillating”. I see a whole damn lot of the band sitting stationary right where it is.
It’s weird how the Local Weather Folk (some of whom get kinda pissy if you try asking them for specifics) never seem to get their models wrong in a way that does not translate to the Buffalo Southtowns getting the shit kicked out of them.
But anyway, that’s just the way it is. The snow is supposed to shift north tonight and then again to us tomorrow, but it will weaken as it does. Unfortunately this snow event is not going to be followed by a nice warm-up that will melt some of it off; instead we’re going into a deep-freeze for a few days, so much of this is going to stay right where it is.
Meanwhile, there was supposed to be an NFL playoff game in town today as the Bills are hosting the Steelers. After much hemming and hawing, the game was postponed to tomorrow afternoon around 4pm (right during my after-work commute, so, yay!), which is clearly the right call as the last thing we need right now is thousands of Bills fans clogging the snow-choked roadways, especially with last winter’s disastrous Christmas blizzard still in the memory banks. Nobody wants a repeat of finding dead people still in their cars, so the County Executive, after consultation with locals and with the governor, announced a full county-wide driving ban until further notice.
The effect, judging by reactions on social media, seems to me yet another data point in how car-centric a society we’ve become, because since the driving ban was announced, every post of the County Executives has been followed by comments by the dozen, all with the exact same whine:
“But when can we DRIIIIIIIVE???”
Seriously, the degree to which people in this society simply can’t fathom not getting in their cars and driving someplace is reaching absurd levels. Sure, maybe some of these people have jobs to get to, but many workplaces closed as this storm approached, and most retail locations have shut down as well, so the question naturally arises, “Just where do all you think you just have to drive today?” I posed a variation on that question and some guy huffed at me along the lines of “Some of us want to get out and be productive.” Doing what? Unless you’re operating a plow, the likelihood is that you’re just going to be getting in the way of people who are productive. I’d bet real cash money that “being productive” for this guy meant just…drivin’ around, doin’ errands, pickin’ shit up. I’d bet real cash money that not one “productive” thing he wanted to do couldn’t, you know, wait a freaking day.
“When can we DRIIIIIIIIVE???”
The question seems related to a similar one that arises any time a new construction project is announced pretty much anywhere, but especially in downtown Buffalo: “Where will we PARRRRRRRK???” Because the automobile is the most important thing in society, and any curtailing of our use of our precious automobiles is one of the most grievous affronts upon our sacred freedoms that exists. So now we live in a time when the very idea of “Hey, weather’s bad and the roads are treacherous, maybe just stay home for a day or two” is turned into a cause against which we must take up arms and mount the barricades.
In fact, “When can we DRIIIIIIIIIVE???” isn’t just about car culture, is it? It’s also about the very idea of belonging to a civilization where individual desires aren’t the only thing that matters. In a way it goes back to the meme that’s been circulating for several years now, particular since COVID and masking: “I really don’t know how to make you care about other people.”
We sure have come a long way from the old Buffalo Mayor Jimmy Griffin who famously told citizens during a blizzard to just grab a six-pack and wait it out at home.