The funniest thing to watch if one lives below the Mason-Dixon Line is how people react when snow is in the forecast. My advice to anyone considering a move to the Land of Cotton, where my feet stink but yours are rotten, is to stock up on milk, bread and toilet paper and be prepared to not go anywhere for a while, even if it's an inch of snow.
Some of the frenzy in that part of the country is understandable. They're not used to that kind of winter. Nor are they fully equipped to handle the weather that may show up during the season. Still, it's funny to watch, especially if you're one of those dang Yankees living as a guest in their land.
It's even funnier to watch how folks up here react when winter weather happens in the winter, especially because one would think they'd be used to it. After all, it snows in the winter. Every year.
Last week, the entire region went into a frenzy as we waited for Nemo to find us. Between the talking snowmen on TV predicting the end of the world (only to walk it back once the albino clownfish swam closer to our reef) to schools jumping the gun on giving the kids a day off, you'd think this was the first time a significant snowstorm came through the region in February.
People don't need much of a reason to complain, given the fact that we live in an age when, as comedian Louis C.K. puts it, everything is amazing, and no one is happy. The easier it gets from here to there, the more things get convenient and the smarter our devices become, it creates a heightened sense of entitlement where too many people think they ought to get everything they want and get it now. Veruca Salt was less self-absorbed than most of these people.
What happens in the city of Amsterdam between December and March is a perfect example of this. (Gawd, is he talking about winter parking again? You betcha.)
In advance of Nemo's arrival, city officials decided to enact a total winter parking ban to make it easier for the plows to get through just in case the weathermen were right for once. The ban meant everyone had to get their cars off the road. Not on the right side, but off.
Winter parking is an issue here every winter even though the city has had an ordinance in place for years. For some strange reason, people can't seem to discern the difference between an odd and even number, causing them to fly into a tizzy when to comes time to move their vehicles a whole 15 feet to make sure they're in compliance. It's often the same folks, in addition to not understanding kindergarten-level math, who are surprised when they can manage to peel themselves away from Honey Boo Boo for a few hours only to find a greeting card on their windshield, courtesy of the Amsterdam Police Department.
Naturally, this brings complaints about the tickets because it's the cops' fault that people can't adhere to the law.
Some legitimate concerns have been brought up in regard to the parking rules, one being that there are areas that might still be too narrow for plows to safely pass, regardless of what side of the road cars are parked on. In response, the city last week provided, free of charge since many folks believe they shouldn't have to pay for anything anymore, a few dozen public lots all over Amsterdam for people to put their vehicles during the parking ban.
A reasonable person would say, "Hey, what a good idea. I can park my car for nothing, and I don't have to worry about getting a ticket, getting towed, or getting run over by a plow truck." Reasonable? Amsterdamians? Not so much, apparently.
As soon as the ban -- and the available parking lots -- was announced, the complaints came rolling in. Some griped about having to walk three blocks home. Others believed the city was obligated to provide free shuttle service from the lots to their homes at 42 Wahhh-llaby Way. Others naturally suggested the city couldn't care less about old people.
Seriously? What more is the city obligated to do for you people? Those lots didn't have to be made available to anyone, or if they were, Amsterdam officials could've charged $5 a pop to park there. City Hall could have just said, "Get your cars off the road. Where you put them is your problem."
Frankly, my guess is there were several officials who thought of plenty of places where the complainers could stick their vehicles. I don't blame them, because I thought of a few myself.
The uproar that happens in Amsterdam every time the snows fly is ridiculous. We live in the Northeast. It snows in the winter. You have to be ready for it, because it comes every year. The city's obligation is to make sure the roads are kept clear and safe, and to be honest, it ends there. Anything beyond that is a courtesy, and it should be treated as such.
The idea that people can't wrap their heads around that concept is so ludicrous, it's almost funnier than watching a bunch of southerners buy up enough milk and toilet paper to last until the good Lord returns to take us home. In fact, the folks who continue to complain about winter conditions in Amsterdam year after year are more than welcome to join them.
CHARLIE KRAEBEL is editor
of the Recorder and plans to scale Mount Wannahockaloogie at some point in his life. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.