Monday, December 19, 2016

Snowpacalypse Three

I wrote this in response to something I witness on December 14, 2017 in Portland, the city that shuts down when it snows. Enjoy!

My daughter and I have to spend the night in Portland because she has an early medical appointment (Don’t worry, nothing serious). We got up here early to avoid the snow and because school was cancelled.
After dumping our stuff in the hotel, we went to the Clackamas Town Center to do some Christmas shopping. When we parked, the lot was white with a crust of snow. By the time we left at 5:30, three inches had fallen. Snowpacalypse had arrived. It took us the better part of 90 minutes to travel the ½ mile to the hotel.
While we were stuck in this gridlock, I noticed three guys. They were in their late teens, and they were just hanging around the traffic lights. They’d stand on one side of the street, laughing and kicking snow on each other, and then they’d cross and do the same thing. I watched them walk across the bridge over the highway and then come back (did I mention it took 90 minutes to go 2,500 feet? I was kind of bored).
Then the kids moved to the center median of the road and walked across the bridge that way.
“Good Lord,” I said to my daughter.
“What?” She was absorbed in her tablet.
“Look at those boys. I swear, teenaged boys might be the dumbest people on earth. They could get really hurt.”
“Huh.” She wasn’t interested.
I could not figure out what those boys were doing. I thought about rolling down my window and scolding them. I thought about how horrified their mothers would be to know they were literally playing in traffic. I may even have locked my door when I saw them coming up the road again. Maybe. I don’t know if I am admitting that part of myself tonight.
It wasn’t until we got across the bridge that I finally understood what was going on. There was a bad snarl at the traffic light where the cars from the off ramp merged with us. One little grey sedan was spinning its wheels, sliding slowly sideways, its driver in a panic. All I could do was ease my car out of range. She was helpless, unable to control the car, unable to get out of the way of other cars. A huge red truck grumbled as it squeezed into my lane to get around her. It was emblematic of the exasperation everyone in all the cars was feeling.
Then, from up the street, the three boys came running towards the little grey car. They were grinning from ear to ear, their jackets open and flapping behind them like grey capes, their sneakers squeaking in the snow (I assume. My window was firmly shut against the wind.)
They flung themselves at the traction-less car and pushed. The nudged and shoved the car out of the intersection and guided it to a place where the wheels caught and the car shuddered and moved on its own. The boys high-fived each other and trotted down the bridge again, looking for more victims to rescue.
I wasn’t able to roll down my window to cheer at them. They were gone into the dark swirling snow before it occurred to me to fish a twenty out of my purse for them. I didn’t even get a picture or a video that could go viral as a reward.
But whoever you are, Snowpacalypse Three, know that I am pleased to have shared a snowy bridge with you for an hour and a half. I’m glad to know the world has young people like you in it.
May the universe reward you handsomely.

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