COLUMN: Share the lessons learned in snowstorm

Friday, February 4, 2011 | 3:01 p.m. CST; updated 7:40 p.m. CST, Monday, February 7, 2011

Editor's note: Students in the Editorial Writing class at the Missouri School of Journalism were assigned to write short editorials about the recent near-blizzard that dumped about 18 inches of snow on Columbia and shut down the university for three days. This column is a partial collection of their thoughts on the storm.

Remember those who work hard to clear the roads

I dug my car out of the snow for entertainment. Call it cabin fever, but I'd gotten my fix of reruns on TLC and watered-down hot chocolate, and the sparkly snow outside beckoned the Coloradan in me. So I bundled up and set out to dig out my car.

As I chipped the ice off my windshield and scooped the snow out from behind my bumper, I looked around at the other students cleaning off their cars with a little elbow grease. Some giggled and threw handfuls of powder at each other. Others desperately tried to clear the packed snow that accumulated behind their tires overnight in an attempt to escape their parking spot, fly over the speed bumps in the parking lot and gain glorious freedom.

It only took about 10 minutes for my four-wheel-drive SUV to power through the snow piled behind my car. But I had nowhere to go. I felt somewhat guilty as I went back inside to the warmth of my couch as others spun their wheels on the ice.

Yet others aren't even that fortunate. While a "snow day" means sledding, sleeping in and chicken noodle soup for many of us, it means working overnight and plowing through 3-foot drifts so people like me can head to Starbucks after we leisurely dig our cars out.

So as I saw some of these workers, wearing soaked Carhartt overalls and snow boots, I thought about their obligations when blizzards hit. For most of us, the snow is just a pain, and we can easily condemn the icy streets and slushy sidewalks.

But instead of complaining about the city's poor snow removal plan — which we often do — let's remember the individuals that work tirelessly to let us reach the freedom of the open road. Next time you see someone de-icing the sidewalk or clearing the snow in a parking lot, thank them, because they're the people that keep society functioning when the weather threatens our daily routines, and they're often forgotten.

— Katelyn Amen

Lesson learned: Good snow boots necessary when walking to the store

As anyone living in Columbia undoubtedly knows, we were just buried under about 18 inches of snow in what is described as the worst winter storm in living history. Perhaps that's a bad thing, because if we could have remembered the last time snow was this bad, my friends and I would have made better choices.

My roommate and I were sitting around as the blizzard raged outside Tuesday with our friends who live at the same apartment complex when everyone decided that we needed more beer and peanut butter. I should have prefaced this by saying that we are evidently quite terrible at preparing for storms: My roommate and I went to Walmart the day before, and while everyone else was there filling entire shopping carts with canned goods, toilet paper, bottled water and other nonperishables, we approached the checkout lane with a pack of Oreos, some razor blades, a bunch of bananas and a few things needed to make a pasta meal. Therefore, it's no real wonder that more beer and peanut butter were our priorities during this winter storm.

Even though I don't drink myself, I figured I might as well go along with them. They were only going next door to the gas station. As everyone got dressed, I realized I didn't own any boots. I figured since it wasn't very far I'd be all right.

Once we got to the liquor store, we found that it was closed because of the weather. However, we figured that Hy-Vee wasn't that far away, and they still really wanted beer.

This is when it became less of an errand and more of a reckless adventure.

My shoes were already filled with snow, soaking through my socks and making my toes go numb. The snow came up to my knees in spots as we trudged along Providence Road, out in the road since it was somewhat plowed. We'd jump off to the side and wind up in deep banks of snow every time a brave soul was traversing the road in a truck or Jeep. Even in the road, the snow was deep enough that it made walking there a labor, and the wind whipped snowflakes like shards of glass into our face. After a journey of Tolkien-esque proportions, we finally arrived.

Of course, I actually had to buy things from the store now that I was there. Like new socks now that mine were completely soaked through, and winter gloves. And cold medicine, since I could tell I was going to need it. And duct tape to try to seal off my shoes for the trek back. My socks still got cold and wet on the way back. After huffing and puffing our way back, I found out our bread was stale, so the peanut butter didn't do us any good.

So if this were one of Aesop's fables, or even one of those Rocky & Bullwinkle skits , I'd end with some clever wisdom or limerick that'd warn you of the dangers of being unprepared, or perhaps how bad it is to be foolhardy and brave storms.

But I'm in no position to get all lofty and wise, since I'm the idiot who hiked half a mile in a blizzard to get peanut butter for bread that wasn't any good. So I'll just wish that you all stay warm, and agree that this blizzard is a little too much to handle.

— Dean Asher

Learn to roll with the punches

This world is undoubtedly hectic. Between bills, work, school and managing a social life, sometimes we all get caught up in the rush. The world is capable of sweeping you off your feet with only a moment's notice. This was perfectly evident when Mother Nature threw Columbia a wicked curveball with 17 inches of pillowy whiteness.

Just like life in general, circumstances come our way that we cannot control. This leaves us with two choices: Fold the hand we are dealt and complain when things don't go our way or sit back and enjoy the ride.

At the beginning of the "Snowpocalypse," I chose the first option. I had been cooped up in my apartment for far too long, and my car was stuck without hope in sight. I cursed, kicked and complained for far too long, wasting my time with circumstances I couldn't control. Misery set in for just long enough to make me do something about it.

So, I grabbed my buddies, shoveled snow until my hands bled, and freed not only my car, but three others in the process. Interestingly enough, not only did my circumstances change, but my attitude did as well. I got caught up in the wintry beauty, the camaraderie of shoveling snow and the spirit of the human race in times of turmoil.

Needless to say, the rest of my day was a major success. Snow drifting, homemade pizza with scary movies and childish laughs filled the frigid night air as I got caught up in the moment. It brought me back to the days of my childhood, where nothing mattered but having fun. I wished the night would never end. But it did, and tomorrow is another day filled with another set of choices.

Will I fret over the hand dealt or will I roll with the punches? I think I know which one I will choose. So, this is my plea. Let the snow be a reminder that we all take life a little too seriously at times. Play in the snow. Build a fort. Drink hot cocoa. Play the hand you're dealt. No matter what this great big world throws your way, sit back and enjoy the ride. Because, after all, we are only here for a little while, right?

— Nicholas Fax

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