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COLUMN: I can't handle snow and neither can Columbia

Thursday, January 27, 2011 | 12:53 p.m. CST; updated 11:37 a.m. CST, Thursday, February 10, 2011

If it were physically possible to kill an atmospheric phenomenon, I would kill snow.

I posted this as my Facebook status when it snowed in November. Several of my friends “liked” it. Several other friends urged me to embrace the snow because it was “magical” and “my friend.”

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The last time I checked, friends don’t try to keep you holed up in your house, stick in your hair and freeze, numb your ungloved hands and kill you should you try to drive.

As for all the assertions that snow is “magical” — well, so was Lord Voldemort.

There are several more reasons that I despise the Substance-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named than the ones listed above. I was born in the great state of Texas, where it snows a grand total of two inches every decade or so.

OK, so that may be a gross exaggeration, but nonetheless, Texas and its inhabitants aren’t well known for being able to handle the cold or snow. I am no exception.

Case in point: The entire state is freaked out by just half an inch of snow.

My principal in high school was from Boston, and there was a forecast during my senior year that predicted Snowmageddon: an inch of ice and snow by the afternoon. My principal’s reaction: “Psh, an inch? You Texans all wear boots and drive pickup trucks with four-wheel drive. Get it together, weaklings.”

He didn’t cancel school, but that didn’t stop parents from pulling their children out. By lunchtime, half of my classmates had gone home. By the end of school, the principal finally gave in and canceled all after-school activities in addition to school the next day.

That’s not even the best example. Some schools canceled classes in anticipation of snow that never happened simply because the sky threatened to rain its icy terror upon us. We feared it like some kind of mythical monster: Talked about in hushed whispers, feared and avoided at all costs.

So imagine my surprise when I get to college and we receive 8 inches of snow, and I’m still expected to go to classes. And it’s not like I live on campus or in one of the student-friendly apartment complexes with shuttle services. I live in a house on the northeast side of town, which seems to be of low priority to the city snowplows.

The fact that the university did not cancel classes was perhaps more frustrating than the snow. My academic peak is always at the beginning of a semester, when I resolve to go to all my classes and do all my reading, so my inability to leave my house to go to school was simply unacceptable. The predicament could have been solved had the university just canceled classes, but it gave no such reprieve.

The university’s inclement weather policy itself is absolutely ridiculous. Its refusal to cancel classes sets impossible standards for both its students and its faculty and staff. Not to mention, it shows an irresponsibility and complete disregard for everyone.

And compare it to the snow policy of other universities. My friend posted a picture of the snowfall in Norman, Okla., home of the University of Oklahoma, juxtaposed to a picture of the snowfall in Columbia on Twitter. While the snow barely covered the grass in Oklahoma, 8 inches of icy death had piled atop a row of cars in Missouri. Oklahoma canceled classes. Missouri had not.

By Friday afternoon, I came to the conclusion that the city had essentially abandoned my side of town, so I decided to pull myself together and force myself to overcome my fear of snow. I grabbed the snow shovel that my roommate left on the front porch and began digging my car out. When I had determined that the area around it was sufficiently clear, I tried to go back into the house to get my stuff and see if I could start driving.

Unfortunately, I had locked the front door behind me with my keys and phone inside. I was essentially stranded until my roommate came home, which at the time was not for another four hours. I spent two of those hours sitting on the front stoop of the house as it snowed again.

The feeling in my butt slowly left me, and my freshly washed hair continued to gather snow until it froze into the strands. My neighbor eventually rescued me and let me stay with her until my roommate came home.

The entire experience only served to reinforce my fear and hatred of the evil white substance.

The city’s reaction to the snow was almost as frustrating as the university’s reaction. Columbia didn’t get around to plowing my street until Sunday afternoon and even then, all the plowed snow was pushed up against my car so I couldn’t get on to the cleared area without digging my car out. Again.

The only solution that I can offer to the city’s slow reaction would be to acquire more snowplows. However, I’ve realized in my short stay in Missouri that Columbia has experienced snowless winters on occasion, and freak snow storms like the one that happened Wednesday evening are a fairly rare occurrence. Additionally, the acquisition of snowplows is of low priority to the city and its budget.

So all I can do is shake my fists uselessly against the sky and hand out empty threats to Mother Nature, the University of Missouri and the city of Columbia.

Carla Jimenez is a columnist and graphic artist for the Columbia Missourian. For more of her useless rants, go to her blog at EnterSomethingCleverHere.wordpress.com.


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