Nigel Downer is a Toronto Mainstage alum and director of The Bob Curry Fellowship Showcase.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published Tuesday evening. Now it’s Wednesday, and it’s certainly anything BUT 65 and sunny in Atlanta today. Stay warm & safe, Atlanta. We know how you feel. Love, Your Friends in Chicago (Home of the Polar Vortex 1 & 2)
I’m sorry it has been so long since I’ve reached out, but by all accounts, you’ve seemed to be doing just fine. But then something happened. I received a text from my mother stating, “Blizzard in Atlanta. We’re all OK.” I Googled “blizzard ATL,” and sure enough, pages upon pages of the horror stories popped up. I began to worry:
Oh, no. I should call everyone, figure out how to help! They aren’t prepared! They aren’t prepared for…wait. Two inches of snow?
This can’t be right. Then I read it again.
It wasn’t even as if ALL TWO inches were dumped on you at once? It was an accumulation of two inches?
I was born and raised in the fine state of Georgia, and I will always go to bat for you. But seriously, Atlanta, you need to get it together. I know, I know. I sound as though The City has changed me and I’ve crossed over to being a “Yank.” I love the South, but I wasn’t always so cavalier about snowfall.
One morning during my freshman year of college, I woke up to more snow that I had ever seen at one time. Growing up in Atlanta taught me that if there “might be snow” or “black ice” school is cancelled, right? Wrong. I didn’t learn that classes weren’t cancelled until hours later. I explained to my professor that I “really didn’t know school wouldn’t be cancelled!” and that “I am from Atlanta!” It is amazing that man did not fail me right then and there. I will never forget the look he gave me. It was truly my Felicity moment. So I get it, Atlanta, I do.
Now, I understand the logistics. Everyone was released at the same time. Parents could not get to their children because they were stuck on I75, I85, HWY 400. The snow turned to ice and without salt trucks, 700 accidents piled up and it was quickly too late to diffuse the crisis. I get that. That makes sense to me.
What didn’t make sense to me was the lack of everyone’s coping skills. People sat in their cars for over 19 hours. Y’all, that is 17 hours too long. Just leave it there and get to where you need to be. Get out of your cars!
ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD???
Yes! On the damn side of the road. Your car will be there when you get back. Even if someone tries to steal it, they aren’t gonna be able to drive away.
There was a story running that a local man was named a hero because he walked 6 miles to be with his kid at school. A hero?! 6 miles?! Y’all, people use to walk 6 miles just to get HALF WAY to the grocery store. Park your car and walk the damn 6 miles and be with your kid! That is your #1 priority when you have children: protect them. You have to walk a few miles to make sure your kid is safe? GET WALKING! You didn’t even have to worry about changing shoes– BECAUSE THERE WAS BARELY ANY SNOW ON THE GROUND!
Oh, Rachel. But the ice! You forgot about the ice!
Oh heavens, you’re right! The ice!
Use the computer you have in your hand, aka your iPhone, and make a better plan than sitting in your car. If you have three kids and your husband is safe at home with them, find a hotel within walking distance and enjoy the free night! Bubble bath and RHOA! Score!
And another thing. This whole “Southern Hospitality” bit that was so wonderfully played out in the media? When I first saw everyone posting stories and photos, I was filled with such Southern Pride! Look at us! Look at what we did! Those thoughts were quickly chased off by another.
You wanna know what helping someone out is called when it is cold outside? Winter. It’s called winter. When it snows 10 inches overnight here and your neighbor can’t get their car out of the snow– you help push them out.
When the pipes freeze in someone’s house, you offer to have them over. You just help each other out. Because that is what good people do.
Another storm is looming. My Mom called. She is safe. Many of my friends and family already have the next two days off of work in preparation for another “big storm.” I’ve seen the Instagrams and Vines posted of all of the empty grocery stores that look like the set of The Walking Dead (which coincidentally is also shot there).
I’m sorry I’m so hard on you. I just want what’s best for you. And what is best is not stocking up on baby food, batteries and bananas– because once tomorrow is over, you’re going to have a shitton of baby food, batteries and bananas.
Stock up on some better coping skills.
If you’ve been stuck in traffic for over 5 hours with no end in sight and no one is available to pick up your kid, pull over at the next exit (or just pull over) and make a better plan. 22 hours in a car?! There wasn’t once when you looked out and realized you could just walk or use your cell phone and concoct a more efficient strategy?
Tomorrow, on your “Snow Day,” make a banana shake with all the bananas you bought and enjoy the day with a good book. Take your kids to the movies or tackle that project that’s taken a backseat to the rest of your life. Or go outside. Chances are, it will be 65 and sunny.
Forever I Love Atlanta,
*Author’s Note: I’m wishing safety to all, on or off the road.