A Beat Behind: Washington Snowpocalypse

By
February 24, 2010

“The winters can be fantastically cruel. And the basic idea is to cope with the very costly damage and deprecation which can occur.”—The Shining

The onslaught of frozen, powdery hell has ceased its incessant downward drift. The Snow-rrific, snow-pocalyptic snow-tacular is finally over. The giant, slippery, glaring white, crunchy mountains are slowly melting into slushy, brown, slick pools of gelatinous guck.

It was the week DC stood still.

My new friend the Washington Post was like a two year old mesmerized both with bad snow puns and its own snowy image. You SNOW what I mean. It was snow-diculous. In case someone lived in a windowless box and could not see outside, they had all sorts of snow themed articles and pictures and MORE pictures of snow-inspired, snowy snow scenes. There was snow escape. Snow-where was safe.

I tried to fight back the first two days. Whenever a break in the snow occurred, I threw on my down, black, body-length jacket and went for walks around the block where, set against the sharp, shocking white, little puffy specks of people slipped and crawled, mitten first, in dazed, giddy awe.

Along what was once a black asphalt road, little foot paths were carved into knee-deep collections of snow by the people in front of me, so I marched single-file behind a small pack of students to the corner 7/11 which bravely stayed open through the storm.

With the federal government, schools and all other walks of business closed–even Starbucks–all one really could do was wander and stare in awe. Side streets I’d traveled just a few days before disappeared, buried under endless drifts and the only thing left visible were the tip-tops of the parking meters. For six days the Capitol creaked by with streets nearly isolated and scattered, snowbound locals on edge.

“The police thought that it was what the old-timers used to call cabin fever. A kind of claustrophobic reaction which can occur when people are shut in together over long periods of time.” –The Shining.

Monday was when it started to turn ugly.

All classes canceled, a dorm full of college students now suddenly found themselves with nothing to do and nowhere to be– and no way of going anywhere to escape it. With custodial staff bound in their homes by the snow, little piles of trash began to form around the trashcans. The halls, with heaters running on high, began to smell like a spoiled-fruit-sour-milk-moldy-sock-beer-soaked-death. Voices in the hallway got louder. The tones went from giddy to urgent. Then, Tuesday night the women’s bathroom on the fourth floor ran out of toilet paper…

“Danny Torrance: What was the Donner Party?
Jack Torrance: They were a party of settlers in covered-wagon times. They got snowbound one winter in the mountains. They had to resort to cannibalism in order to stay alive.
Danny Torrance: You mean they ate each other up?
Jack Torrance: They had to in order to survive.” –The Shining.

This is when I found myself lying to my roommate, avoiding my friends. That box of Kleenex you ask? No I have no idea where it went! I found myself stuffing my bra, not to generously enhance my figure but to hide valuable contraband from my now tensely hysteric fellow captives.

Wednesday the pipes began to freeze and the cafeteria was reduced to using paper plates and plastic utensils. That’s also when the toilets stopped flushing properly.

Then Thursday, the sun came out, the trash was gone, the toilets flushed, and the toilet paper returned. Returned as if nothing had happened. Walking down the hall everyone greeted each other with big smiles and desperate relief. As I walked down the stairs, the kid behind me hummed. He was humming as if the last few days had never happened. But I remember.

And with that, we avoided “Redrum… Redrum… REDRUM…”


A Beat Behind: Washington Snowpocalypse was published on February 24, 2010 in Column, Opinions

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  • Nicole Vermeer

    This is my favorite Tara Nelson column yet!