Friday, January 29, 2016

Top Five Things I Learned from the “Zombie Snow Apocalypse 2016”

Last week here on the U.S. East Coast, over 70 million people panicked as a “massive snow storm of historic proportions” was predicted for nearly a week before the first flake fell last Friday. We were told to prepare to lose power and to be stuck in place for up to a week. We panicked, right on cue.

I went to the grocery store, mid-day mind you, a full 48 hours prior to the weather event and witnessed people running around in horror like an army of the undead was circling the town preparing to feast on the chubby village folk. The food shelves were sparse, but I managed to get my essentials and returned to my car unscathed after waiting in the check-out line for nearly 30 minutes. While weathercasters dubbed the storm “Jonas,” it will always be the Zombie Snow Apocalypse of 2016 to me.

The weather guys got it right this time. The storm was a beast. In my area, about 50 miles southwest of Washington, DC, snow fell for nearly 36 hours straight dumping 30” around us. We typically don’t get that much snow in a year, much less at one time. To make matters worse, fierce winds between 35 – 50 miles an hour raged in the overnight hours sweeping the soft dry snow into massive drifts that trapped some people inside their home for days.

It was an interesting weekend. We never lost power so we could watch the storm from the perspective of our home as well as see news reports and the social media accounts of our friends. Everything was closed as government officials warned the public to stay put so roads could safely be cleared. Since I drive a Prius and my husband has a Mini-Cooper, we’re not on the roads much in the snow. Staying put was not a problem.

Now that the snow has passed, I thought I’d share the Top Five Things I Learned from the Zombie Snow Apocalypse 2016:   
1) Most people want to be of service. Over and over again, I saw people going above and beyond to dig out neighbors, walk through high snow drifts to rescue animals and offer help to strangers. To me, this is “love in action.”   

2) People need to feel “connected” to others. It was heartwarming to see how many people were checking on each other, posting snow photos and creating funny videos to share during the storm. Besides the occasional, “Do you SEE how hard it’s snowing out there?” my husband kept uttering, “OMG! Did you see this on Facebook?” I had texts and messages from friends in other parts of the world checking to see if we were safe and had power. Prayers and love were being sent to everyone enduring “Jonas.” Especially to the snow removal crews, police and emergency workers who were battling the elements. It’s true. “We are all one,” especially in emergencies.

3) Communication is key, and humor helps! No matter how much you adore another person, being snowbound together, and not knowing for how long, can be a challenge. Sprinkle in some fear (did you see those roofs collapse on TV?) and consume lots of bad-for-you-no-good sugary foods (everyone knows boredom + stress = sugar cravings) and the result can be frazzled nerves. After many years of marriage, my husband and I were both aware of potential pitfalls and were honest with our feelings. We communicated what we needed from each other. Being honest made the event fun instead of frustrating. And we felt free to be playful, even goofy. Here’s a goofy example: my husband shoved a plastic white shark toy into the snow and staged “snow shark” photos including one with his fuzzy bear hat attacking the shark, all for the amusement of his Facebook friends. Goofy and fun can definitely help pass the time during a snow storm.

4) People think they’re “funny” sending warm weather wishes. Oh, I’m not communicating clearly. This is what I mean to say: Hey, so happy you’re in sunny Hawaii, the Caribbean, Florida or freakin’ Australia enjoying beautiful sunshine and warm beaches. The first 100 photos you sent were cool, you know, the ones with the captions “wish you were here” but enough already. Yes, we’re posting lots of snow pictures and writing blogs, but this was an historic storm that even shut down Washington, DC for days. And to those who keep posting “I’m so jealous of the snow” from their beach chairs…no, no you’re not. We all know you’re not.

5) Parents of school aged children are the most fun to follow on social media. Our kids are grown so it was fun to watch posts start out from young parents saying things like “Can’t wait to build a snowman with our adorable crew.” A couple days in, messages became, “Kids are getting restless, but we’re having a wonderful adventure.” By day four I saw posts like, “FOR GOD’S SAKE SEND A DOG SLED LOADED WITH WINE!! I CAN’T TAKE THIS MUCH LONGER!”

Those precious parents are soooo cute. They’ll learn. Like we all have. No matter how bad the ice storm, or how deep the snow…spring is on the way.

All we have to do is hold on.