Supercali-fragilisticexpiali-SNOW-cious in Chicago
02/09/2011 10:00 PM
A lot of people suffered during and after last week’s thunder snow. Businesses lost money, people lost their lives, and for a hot second the mayor lost some credibility.
Few bonuses came from the snowpocalypse. One might be that the city halted parking meter enforcement, though good luck digging your plowed-in car out when you actually wanted to drive it. Another might be bonding with neighbors.
I didn’t plan for last week’s blizzard. Living in our neighborhood, I figured I would be able to make it through the weather with ease. After all, the West Loop has groceries, restaurants, public transit, and the Loop all within walking distance. And we benefit from being located along east and westbound corridors suburban commuters use to enter and exit the city. Our roads would be fine. I would be fine.
Others prepared. I heard that the lines at the Dominick’s on Halsted stretched to the back of the store that Monday. A friend joked that dairy producers were the big winners with all the people rushing to fill their fridges. “There isn’t a gallon of milk to be found,” he said, chuckling.
My refrigerator remained intentionally bare, save for a few food staples and some distilled liquors left over from the holidays. If nothing else, turning to Tito’s Vodka as a storm staple, I would survive snowmageddon.
Tuesday, my mom called to warn me that it was getting bad outside — I could be blown into a snow bank on the way home from work and found dead when the snow melted. My parents live in the suburbs with a driveway the length of my street.
I’m sure they’ve found some interesting things when the snow’s melted in years past. Here I just find dog poop — lots of it — left over by inconsiderate dog owners.
Crossroads was my neighborhood bunker. It was neat to know pretty much everyone there lived within walking distance since the roads were already too treacherous to just go out for a sandwich. There were moments when, as neighbors, we all sat quietly watching the wind gusts whipping inches of snow past the windows thinking about the walk home. We ordered corn tots, chicken soup and drinks. To heck with the wind gusts and the snow, the West Loop was open for business.
I went to work on Wednesday. It was just me and an IT guy from the Chicago Board of Trade waiting at the #126 Jackson bus stop. We joked that our work was clearly important; in our world work doesn’t wait for a silly storm to pass. Crain’s Chicago Business later reported that the Chicago Board of Trade opened late, having waited for traders and the IT staff to arrive. Turns out the world kind of did have to wait for at least one of us.
By nightfall on Wednesday, most of the Madison Street hot spots had given in to Snow-M-G 2011. When it was announced Chicago’s third biggest snow storm since meteorologists began recording the weather, I finally began to question my plan to ignore the storm.
But by Thursday morning, there was a bustle to the West Loop’s main streets and I went to work again. That evening’s rolling closure of LaSalle Street for snow removal seemed a bit of overkill, as crews loaded and shipped the snow off to another location. Meanwhile, people in other parts of the city still didn’t have their streets cleared. I’m not sure Loop workers were able to take advantage of the downtown’s clean sidewalks if they couldn’t make it off of their own far North or South Side streets.
That evening, I shoveled and helped push a car out of the snow on my way to my hockey game. That sealed it — my blizzard experience was complete. By Friday, save for a few unplowed side streets, the worst was over, and the amazingly coordinated response by city workers put our neighborhood back on its feet.
No Business Like Snow Business
According to reports, Chicago retailers lost millions from last week’s storm, and some neighborhoods are still snowed in. How did you weather Chicago’s storm of the century? What are your favorite nicknames for the storm to end all storms? Let us know by posting comments on this column at www.chicagojournal.com/opinion/columnists.