Snowstorms, “dibs” and endless whining

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By Ray Hanania

RayHananiaColumnBoxIt’s always surprising to me how loud people are when it comes to the inconvenience of snow.

I get it. Snowstorms are a hassle. They slow people down significantly and that’s bad because computers have given us a sense of time entitlement. We want things now but “now” is never fast enough any more.

Yet, this IS Chicagoland. We live in the Midwest where weather is notorious for inconvenience.

But when did we become whiners when it comes to snow?

This most recent blizzard is a good example. Nearly 20 inches of snow fell during a two-day period. That’s a lot of snow ranking the 5th worst snowstorm since the unforgettable blizzard of 1967.

In 1967, my parents didn’t whine and they didn’t expect the city to clear all the snow. Government took care of the major streets and we took off the rest. We didn’t have pedestals of privilege. We helped neighbors shovel out of snow storms that brought traffic, schools, businesses and life to a standstill.

Today, the more it snows, the more we expect someone else to deal with it.

Here’s a recap of the big storms: 1967, Jan. 26-27 — 23 inches; 1999, Jan. 1-3 — 21.6 inches; 2011, Feb. 1-2 — 21.2 inches; 1979, Jan. 12-14 — 20.3 inches; 2015, Jan. 31-Feb. 1 — 19.3 inches.

Cars covered in snow and neighbors pushing snow into the street, 2015. Snow blizzard

Cars covered in snow and neighbors pushing snow into the street, 2015. Snow blizzard

The blizzards were often given names. The 1967 blizzard is simply called “The 1967 Blizzard.” The 1979 blizzard is remembered as the “Jane Byrne Blizzard” which toppled Mayor Michael A. Bilandic and the Democratic Machine the following month. The Machine made a quick comeback with Byrne at the helm. The 1999 blizzard was a shocker but had no name because we were more worried about Y2K, which consumed all of our whining. And, the 2011 blizzard is remembered as the “Ground Hog Day Blizzard” or the “Lake Shore Drive Snow Jam.”

Let’s give the blizzard of 2015 the name, “The Whiner’s Blizzard.”

People have come to expect government to undo what Mother Nature does on a whim. No one controls how much snow falls. And governments do the best they can to clear the main streets of snow. But who said they have to clean every residential street?

More important is when did people forget their responsibility to shovel snow and clean in front of their homes?

Be considerate when it comes to snow. Clean your car and driveway but don’t push the snow into the street and cause a hazard for others.

When I was a kid, I walked the neighborhood with a shovel and knocked on doors asking if they wanted me to shovel their sidewalk and driveways for $5.

Parked car left covered in snow by its owner. The snow freezes and is hard to remove after 3 days.

Parked car left covered in snow by its owner. The snow freezes and is hard to remove after 3 days.

It was a lot of work but $50 was a lot of money back then. Now, people have snow blowers that do most of the heavy labor and we still complain.

No one has to pay me to clear sidewalks and driveways for the elderly. Satisfaction is better than money.

We’ve become so needy and selfish, too. We expect government to do the work and we’ve become lazy. We put cheap chairs and tables in our street parking spots to save the spot we shoveled. If everyone shoveled their spots, we wouldn’t need “dibs.”

Slow down. Count to 10. Shovel your snow. Help your neighbor. We can do without whining and we can do without “dibs.”

(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media consulting. Reach him at [email protected].)


Managing Editor at Illinois News Network
Managing Editor posting profile, Illinois News Network. [email protected]