Monday, January 13, 2014

Bread! Milk! Toilet Paper!

We had a blizzard last week. The city shut down. But before the blizzard, there was an extreme weather warning which streamed in red banners for days across our TV screens and blew up social media. The balmy 30 degree air was filled with anticipation. Temperatures were going to drop into the negative numbers mixing with violent wind gusts and unrelenting snow. We haven’t had a blizzard in Buffalo since before the dawn of Facebook.  Before the first finespun flakes descended, social media outlets stoked flames of mass hysteria about bread, milk and toilet paper shortages as a real time galleries of barren store shelves were curated by community members. Even the lactose intolerant suddenly scrambled to the corner store. Milk! We must have milk! We can’t drink it; but, we  can’t survive the storm without it!

We had already done our grocery shopping for the week. With the 6 of us, every time we shop, it looks like we are shopping for a cataclysm. 

It wasn’t just hype. On Monday afternoon, the snow moved in steadily.  The delicate powder turned into a wall of white. My charitable contribution for the day was to pick up the boys after school so that they wouldn’t have to wait for public transportation in the storm.

The conversation on the slow crawl home went something like this: 
Henry: Do you think they will close school tomorrow?
First Born Son: They’d better. It’s not fair to make us go out in this weather.
Me (in my head): Wah, wah wah. Babies.
First Born Son (spotting the blurred figure of his classmate): Hey look, it’s Dougie waiting for the bus. You can hardly see him because of the whiteout. He looks like giant snowball.
Me: Should I give him a ride?
First Born Son: Nah, he’ll be fine.

As I prepared dinner, the kids were glued to the TV- calling out the names of each district that had closed school for the following day. Each update that did not include the Buffalo Public Schools was followed by groans: Aww, c’mon! It’s not fair! They can’t make us go out in this weather! We’d better not have school tomorrow- that’s child abuse! I’m not dying of  hypothermia just because our district does not care about us!

At 6:00 PM, the call came. The angels rejoiced Hallelujah, Buffalo Public Schools will be closed tomorrow! And, First Born Son bolted into the room.
'It is for real? Are schools really closed tomorrow?’ His eyes were sparkling like disco balls.
'Yes,’ I confirmed.
Then, I’ll be right back,’
Where are you going?’ He was pulling on his sneakers and I suspected it wasn’t to do something helpful like shovel the walkway.
To the store. I’ve got to load up on supplies.’ (Supplies=Candy)
It’s awful out there! You don’t even have a coat on. Or boots!’
 He paused in the open  doorway letting in a shock of arctic air, assessing the neighborhood which had been swallowed in the veil of white,wryly smiling, 'Aw, it’s not that bad.’

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