Only in New England…

I walked down the street to get a snack.  Keep in mind it’s “late” at night, and colleges are all shut down for winter break.

The convenience store that’s always open ’til 1:00 am?  Closed.

The doughnut shop?  Closed.

The deli and the two coffee shops?  All closed.

But the ice cream store?  Still open ’til midnight seven-days a week. Not even the 35° weather can stand in the way of some good ice cream around here.

Government vs. Almighty Nature

Yesterday’s snowfall produced some traffic headaches, as I’ve already mocked. Bill Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth, was quoted on WCVB TV today as saying, “The fact that this was a relatively modest snow storm, well predicted, points to the failure of leadership, the failure of direction, the lack of coordination, the lack of metropolitan planning. We can’t have … this is unacceptable.”

Let’s briefly recap the events of yesterday as they unfolded. First, it snowed a lot in a short period of time. As a consequence the roads were messy, and it was difficult to drive on them. As a consequence, traffic was terrible, and it took people a long time to get home.

In six years in Vermont this happened to me twice – 18 minute commutes turned into two hour marathon crawls. Twice. In six years. My coworkers today confirmed anecdotally that a “once in three years” frequency is about par for Boston.

Beacon Hill could conduct a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of the “unacceptable” answer to the question, “What happens when thousands of people try driving simultaneously on icy, snowy, slushy roads in the midst of a blizzard?” What I’m anxious to find out isn’t how long this investigation lasts, but rather how long before somebody proposes building more tunnels.

T > Gridlock

Vermont no longer has a monopoly on winter. We’re finally reclaiming our rightful place at the top of the ugly weather food chain in Boston.

After my employer sent everybody home in the afternoon, helping to create a glorious miniature rush hour by about 2 pm, I got to watch the rest of the city quietly fall apart.

By 6:00 traffic on my street was almost completely immobile for blocks, with drivers lounging about in the snow, finding themselves unusually useless in their cars. This morning I found my coworkers’ median added commute time yesterday was two hours. Keith Lockhart announced at yesterday’s Holiday Pops, “The record so far is 7.5 hours,” referring (I think) to one of the violinists.

I took particular delight in watching a woman’s failed attempts to extract her car from the plow-induced snow bank from my apartment window. Forcing the car forward and backward an inch at a time did nothing. Enlisting the help of a snow blower may have helped, but not much. What really made it art was when she finally started to get free as the snow plow blew by again, recreating the entire mess.

It’s not that I delight in watching people who drive suffer but… well, yeah, it’s that I delight in watching people who drive suffer. See, me, on the T? I got home yesterday in 30 minutes. The day before that I got home in 30 minutes too. Really every day I’ve ever commuted in Boston it’s taken me 30 minutes to do it. Friday night, Saturday morning, during an ordinary rush hour, and now during a blizzard, it takes 30 minutes.

And when I went back out again to get to Holiday Pops? With all those blocks and blocks of stopped cars on Comm. Ave? It took me 30 minutes.

Take that, drivers.

Sleigh Ride

At tonight’s Holiday Pops concert, the Pops played the immortal Sleigh Ride. Keith Lockhart announced, ‘The most played Christmas song on the radio this year is Sleigh Ride – and it’s our song!’

So I looked it up. Sure enough, Wikipedia tells us, “‘Sleigh Ride’ is a light orchestral piece written by Leroy Anderson during a heat wave in August, 1946; lyrics were written later by Mitchell Parish. It was first recorded in 1949 by Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops Orchestra.” (emphasis mine)