Snow day

A snow day brings changes in ordinary routines. Some are welcome; just ask a kid who hadn’t quite finished his homework. Some not so much; ask the kid’s mother. (It’s sometimes overlooked that schools have a duty to provide child care.)

Here’s a snow-day change that I liked a lot: I stopped thinking about politics for a while. Not entirely, but less.

When the Republican majority of the House of Representatives is on the verge of political suicide by passing a bill that will take away medical insurance from millions of Americans, well, it’s better not to think about it. Passing that bill is an unnatural act, rather like the Shakers making themselves extinct (and forgoing a rather pleasurable activity in the process). Normal politicians will do anything to be sure they are re-elected. But not this bunch that’s in control now.

And then there was Kellyanne Conway and her microwave suspicions. The snow emergency came just in time to distract me from checking my own microwave. I voted for Hillary, so the dark forces in power these days might just be listening in on what I say in my kitchen.

Oh yeah, and that Sean Spicer show with the air quotation marks about how the Gropenfuhrer hadn’t really meant it when he said that President Obama had tapped his “wires.” It brought to mind Yogi Berra’s claim, “I didn’t really say everything I said.”

So it was good that the snow gave me a break from politics.

I had some stuff to attend to in New York City, and I went down a day early so I wouldn’t have trouble getting out of Saranac Lake and the High Peaks. I had a whole day there with nothing planned after the storm arrived. I was glad of it. As I’ve already said, it beat thinking about politics.

I found a miniature room in an affordable hotel (of which New York has few that are are also safe and seemingly free of communicable diseases), but this bargain had no coffee. So when I got up the first morning, I made my way to a nearby Starbucks. It was closed on account of the storm. So was the one on the next block. A city street lined with dark, locked-up Starbucks is eerie.

The streets were similarly curious. Garbage trucks fitted out with plows pushed snow around. There were no cars gunning through red lights and making U-turns. Here and there was an occasional intrepid taxi, but they went about without honking. What kind of taxi doesn’t honk?

All in all, it was disorienting.

That’s not the whole picture either. It was snowing and sleeting so hard, my glasses were no good to me. so I put them in my pocket, thereby creating a vague and hazy vision of Broadway. Rather romantic, actually.

And for some reason I’d left my hearing aids in the hotel, so I couldn’t hear much, either.

Nor could I move freely. Sidewalks were icy and the garbage-truck snowplows had heaped up Himalayan-size berms at curbside, making getting across a street something better managed on hands and knees. I hadn’t thought to bring pitons or an ice ax.

Along about noon, I found a little store (known as a candy store or bodega in local parlance) that was open. I knew from earlier experience that it was run by some Yemenis. I tried to get the one at the register to talk to me, but he was guarded and taciturn. I believe he suspected me of being an ICE agent. It didn’t matter; I wouldn’t have been able to hear him anyway.

In the circumstances, I felt free to eschew my vegan ways. Got a turkey sandwich with mayo and took it back to my affordable hotel room, aka cell. Spent most of the day there. Enjoyed two naps.

So my snow day in Gotham was unsettling, albeit refreshing. It was nice not to think about political issues (other than climate change) of these peculiar and frightening times.


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