On the benefits of salt and friction . . .

Disclaimer: While the following has all the markings of an elaborate “why I was late to work even though there was less than a centimeter of snow on the ground” excuse, the author would like to state for the record that this is not his motive.

As I said, I like snow. With snow comes a friendly sort of anarchy, a twist in the normal order of things. It lends its cheery, if false sheen to the ugly world and, at times, it acts as a sort of truth serum. This morning, for example, a light dusting of snow revealed the startling fact that someone, somewhere is incompetent. Specifically: the person whose job it is to tell the salt trucks when to run.

I might not be an expert on snow removal, although I have been known, on occasion, to shovel and salt; but I thought it interesting last week when I noticed that the city had salted the roads when there wasn’t any snow in the forecast. I found this even more interesting when, after everybody predicted that there would be snow, they didn’t salt. Not one iota, granule, or grain.

Factoid #1: Cincinnati is a hilly city.

Even on a road outside of a large high school in my neighborhood, a road that is used by the queue of school-bound busses, by commuters to the university, pill hill’s several major hospitals and downtown, no salt had been spread.

Factoid #2: Friction is sometimes a bad thing (e.g. underwear, faulty slip-n-slides); but, in certain situations (rappelling, travel by car), it’s a great thing!

So this bus, going about its daily business of dropping kids off at the high school, started to leave and, well, skidded. A parked car stopped it in a diagonal across the frictionless, icy, unsalted inclined plane of the road. Cars could not get around the bus and the bus could not move. Traffic backed up. It backed up through several intersections, cutting off alternative routes for thousands upon thousands of commuters. Bus riders waited hours in the frigid air watching traffic not move, etc., etc. This brings me to factoid #3.

Factoid #3: If your job is to make sure, should inclement weather requiring salt and/or plowing arise, that the snow plows and salt trucks go out, and you don’t do your job, you are directly responsible for the misery of thousands and thousands of people. You don’t want people to be miserable, do you? (Do you?)

So thanks. Thanks in advance for waking early, looking out the window, making the necessary calls, telling those hard-working, hardy salt-truck drivers to get out there and spread the sodium chloride for which we have dutifully paid our taxes. In this way you are responsible for some slight modicum of happiness, however non-existent the happiness might seem, buried in the collective grumpiness of people who feel they ought to be allowed to stay home for a snow day, which they should, but if we have to go to work, lets try to make it safer.

-Ed Scripsi

Published in: on December 7, 2006 at 2:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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