Dearest Midwesterners, Canadians, and anyone else to whom this message belongs,
In this time of accumulating snow and highway-shaped ice rinks, I kindly ask your consideration with regards to one particular matter.
Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please, stop harassing your friends and family who would prefer not to drive when it is snowing, sleeting, sheeting (?) or just plain icy. Furthermore, and more specifically, kindly resist the urge to press forth your chest, fold your stubby thumbs inward and with vulgar confidence and volume, boast that you’re, “not afraid of snow.”
First of all, the position you have assumed to make this declaration is highly unflattering, unless you’re a cartoon safari guide. Secondly, your proclamation remains entirely unremarkable as it can, in fact, be shared by all—expect for a minority sampling of individuals suffering from some sort of precipitation-phobia. Mental illness is real. Be kind to yourselves.
But, afraid of snow? Do you really believe that we, and I number myself among the latter, are morbidly afeared of the white stuff itself?
Do you find it reasonable to believe that whilst safe in our homes on a blustery night—betwixt a fireplace, a blanket and a good book—that at the sight of the first delicate, heaven-sent morsel of chilled water and pollution, that we defecate? Fold in upon our fragile selves, assume the fetal position and hum spirituals? That the mere presence of snowfall causes our knees to quake and bowels to loosen? I should certainly hope not.
Being “afraid of snow” is such a condescending sentiment, and I’ve heard it so much in the last two weeks, I’ve actually elected to waste the time to put these thoughts on Internet paper.
I, myself, have been rear-ended, sideswiped or superficially hit during winter no less than on four separate occasions. In three of the four, my vehicle was stationary. I was not at fault for a single encounter, though my insurance rate will tell you otherwise. My “fearfulness” of the snow had zero impact (pun intended) on the situations I found myself in. Would you like to know what did, gentle reader, who at this moment is sitting upon a hot pin of disagreement? Would you like to know what brought about each of these frigid faux pas? You did. Figuratively, anyway. You did.
Allow me to let you in on a secret, for it is one surely no one ever intended to be kept: I’m not afraid of snow, I’m afraid of you.
You, whose fearlessness allows you to throw even the slightest whiff of caution to the wind and drive, in February, like it is July.
You, who I watch slam on your brakes and slide effortlessly into intersections because slowing down would have, some-crazy-how, made you less of a Proper Midwesterner. A Grade-A slab of Badass.
You, whom with bald tires and a can-do spirit fishtail in and out of barely visible lanes, knuckles pink from lack of grip. While we, white-knuckled, speed-limit observers try desperately to stay out of your way. The snowbank or ditch, for us, is usually the reasonable compromise.
You, whom with vehicles high and mighty and with poor centers of gravity, rip past others at summer’s day breakneck speeds, recklessly obscuring the vision and snow-washing the windshields of any and all in your slushy wake.
You, for whom the effort to remove feet of snow from your roof, hood or windshields front and back, is far too great to put forth.
You, who fashion and wear your own handmade, cardboard badges and believe that surviving countless winters past excludes you from the need to take any precaution for winters present and future.
I will state it again for clarity; Sir, madam, I’m afraid of you.
I’m afraid because I can’t drive for you. I can’t slow you down, wake you up, check your tires, flash your turn signal or sound your horn. I’m afraid because all my diligence can’t make up for the smallest drop of your ignorance. I’m afraid because your preoccupation with reclaiming your title as Mr. & Ms. Midwestern Winter 20-whatever is so important that my car, my legs or my life, are acceptable collateral damage.
So, kindly heed this reminder with all the sardonic love with which it was bestowed. This is not a call to return to safe driving practices—heavens no! It is simply the correction of a misconception from one who finds herself, hourly, victimized by its prevalence. If you must belittle someone, wouldn’t you rather it not be on the basis of something as primal as self preservation? I don’t know. Seems like that would be more satisfying.
Anyway, go in peace. Just remember, the next time a good friend bails on Happy Hour, or your estranged aunt’s cat’s 40th Bar Mitzvah, or a coworker chooses not to come in to the office (because OMG the Internet is literally everywhere), we’re not making these decisions because we are afraid of snow and ice. We, actually, have a healthy respect for snow and ice.
We’re afraid of those of you who don’t.