Down on the Farm: Home for a blizzard
Snowbird luck: I flew back from Arizona to Minnesota for an important meeting only to get snowed in and miss the meeting which suddenly didn't seem important at all!
The trip got off on a strange foot when this frail, rail-thin teenage kid sat next to me on the plane in Phoenix and ordered one margarita and two Jack-and-Cokes.
"Wait a minute!" the flight attendant said, "We can only do one at a time."
The kid's identification showed that, against all odds, he was indeed of legal age. By days. So he got his margarita, which he guzzled, and then pushed the call button to get the two Jack-and-Cokes before we hit cruising altitude.
"I do have to explain to you, sir," the flight attendant said to the kid, "that this will be all we can serve you on this two-hour flight." Thank goodness for rules.
I wore earplugs, which blocked all noise but the loud conversation between two retirees behind me, both of whom had lost their first spouses fifteen years ago.
The two, one male, one female, are both dating now in their 70s, but it is slim pickings. The female found a man online, but he smokes two packs per day and drinks quite a bit, although now he says he's going to quit. But it's not that bad since he spends most of his time in Mexico and she goes back to Minnesota for the summers, so they're really not together that much. Which is fine.
He calls her his girlfriend, which makes her mad because she's not a girl. So then he called her his wife, which made her mad because they're not married. I began to understand the two packs-a-day.
The man, meanwhile, has found a woman to dance with and go to flea markets, but they have no desire to move in together because they both like their own houses and space. So, it's kind of nice. His kids keep wanting them to get married, but he just wishes his kids would take care of their own screwed up lives and not try to straighten him out.
After two hours of gritty, senior-dating detail, the plane landed in Fargo. The raw wind hit me with cruel force. The car claimed it was 26 degrees above. I was certain the minus sign was missing.
Icy roads. Darkness. Wind. Blowing snow. An unfamiliar rental car.
Once home, the blizzard came, as predicted, and the whole cancellation dance started. You don't want to cancel and look wimpy if the storm doesn't show, so you wait. And you wait.
I didn't want to back out of the meeting and be the only one, so I waited. And the wind blew. And the Weather Service said don't travel. And I waited.
The final straw came when a local posted on Facebook that they were having a tough time getting to town for cigarettes, did anybody have some out this way? You know if the roads are too bad for a cigarette run, it's serious. So, I canceled my attendance at the very important meeting, only to find out many of the others were doing the same. The dominoes fell.
Then, I wondered: At what point in this entire fiasco should I have just pulled the plug on the entire trip? Why didn't I just stay in Arizona when I knew the weather gurus were predicting ugly weather back in Minnesota?
We Minnesotans don't want to look irresponsible. We fulfill our obligations, however grim the task. We don't make excuses. So during storms, we do the cancellation dance, which brings about cover-your-tail compromises like starting two hours late. Or getting half-way there and sleeping in a gym.
Never once has starting two hours late made one bit of sense. If memory serves, the whole school day was so screwed up by the late start that we should have just called the whole thing off.
Here is one case where our elders have wisdom we younger ones could afford to tap into. Older people see the slightest hint of inclement weather and back out of everything. Then, we make fun of them.
"Oh, Aunt Ellen saw a little snow on the news for next Thursday, so now she says she won't go to water aerobics," we say with derision.
But Aunt Ellen is smart. She's too old to do the cancellation dance. She doesn't care if people think she's a wimp, or is shirking her citizenship obligations.
Being caught in a storm is no fun, and the only way to prevent it is to back out early and back out often.
Sometimes the old folks know best.