- Ursula K. Le Guin
Suddenly, without warning, a winter rang out.
It wasn’t winter on Saturday, but it became winter on Sunday. The forecast called for a few inches, and I wondered idly whether I’d need to use the snow blower.
But the snow kept coming. The question changed from whether I’d need to clear it out, to when would be the optimal time to start. I still had the idea it would taper off in the afternoon, so I waited until 2:00, then sallied forth. My neighbors, with whom I share the driveway, were already clearing off the area in front of their garage. I did the liturgical exercises necessary to start up a snow blower that’s been sitting since spring (even if you put fuel stabilizer in the tank, which I had), and then dug in.
I have often encountered bad snow for blowing, but this stuff was almost precision engineered to jam up in the blower chute. Heavy, wet, adhesive. The temperature was just below freezing, and the snow never quite made up its mind whether it wanted to be slush or not. I’d go a couple feet, then clear the chute with a stick, then go a couple more feet, repeat. It was a little better between the houses, where the sunlight didn’t reach. My neighbors stayed on the job too, which also helped. Eventually we got it cleared.
But it was still snowing.
It snowed through the night. The next night, after work, I ran the snow blower again, to clear the rest of the snowfall – a couple more inches. Fortunately the temperature had dropped, and this stuff blew out pretty nicely.
I realized that this was the first time in my life I’d been happy to see colder weather.
Driving has been terrible. I don’t know if the authorities were caught unprepared, or whether the job was just beyond them, but all the streets are covered with sheets of ice. The worst part is at stop signs and lights, where people get stuck in a stop position because they can’t get traction. It’s worse if it’s an uphill grade. Worst of all are left turn lanes on an uphill grade.
This morning I got caught in a long line of cars in the left turn lane on such an uphill grade, and when I finally crawled up to second in line, the car in front of me spun its tires all through the green arrow light. When it turned again, I was prepared, and jumped out of my car to help the passenger push.
But the guy behind me did the same thing. So when the car in front of me got moving, I could have gone through too, but I wasn’t in my car yet. If I’d been a selfish Randian, sitting in my car, I could have gotten two cars through the light on that turn. But because I was a Christian and tried to help, only one car went through and everyone behind me suffered.
I draw no universal conclusions from that failure. I learned long ago that I’m under a sort of Samaritan’s Curse. Anytime I try to help with anything, I generally make things worse.
Maybe I should become a Randian, and sabotage Objectivism.