Having experienced many of my Christmases as a youth in Buffalo, I'm generally nonplussed by big snow storms. This one has confined me to my house, however, and I've been watching the madness unfold on News Channel 8, where they are warning us not to venture outside our houses if we don't have to do so.
Generally, that's very good advice. However, they were showing footage of pedestrians crossing streets and dismissing it as wildly dangerous behavior because, hey, cars gotta use those streets! Certainly driving conditions merit warnings, but why are we chiding the pedestrians instead of the people driving non-emergency vehicles? How are pedestrians expected to stay out of the streets when public services are focusing efforts on clearing roadways while ignoring sidewalks?
Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson declared a state of emergency because so many county residents failed to heed warnings not to drive. I saw a few of those obstinate drivers on my walk to the Safeway in my neighborhood... which of course was closed. In fact, the only things open in Laurel Lakes Shopping Center were a nail salon (?) and a liquor store. Eventually I found an open 7-11, but suffice to say there was a lack of healthy diet staples. The proprietor, Pankaj, had walked to his store this morning to make sure Laurel Lakes could at least purchase Hot Pockets and yogurt smoothies if nothing else. This really made me wish my neighborhood had live-work units. Not to mention sidewalks.
Despite my lack of healthy food, open shops, and decent pedestrian facilities, at least I wasn't threatened with a gun during a snowball fight. A public gathering in the public realm at 14th and U NW was broken up because... wait for it... a car was hit by a couple of snowballs. The man brandishing the weapon was an off-duty policeman. The message: People don't matter in a snow emergency. Cars do.