Return of the Polar Vortex – Something good happened in Erie, 1/31/2019

Without further ado, your Idiotville feel-good story of the week:

There is something very on-brand about the Polar Vortex again selecting Idiotville among its targets. This week we’re celebrating a couple of things that we need the cold in order to achieve. Some things guaranteed to put a smile on your face, and halfway likely to freeze it there. I’m talking about a good old-fashioned snow day.

Remember when you were a kid, that feeling you’d get when you woke up and saw snow piling up outside your window and heard the wind howling? Remember running to the TV and watching the scroll at the bottom for your school? “G…H…I….ah dammit, another commercial!” Then, finally, that glorious moment you saw your school on the screen.

Maybe it was a 2-hour delay, maybe the full monte. If you’re like me, it began with a long nap either way, meeting my mom’s eyes briefly on the triumphant march back to bed with a look that said, “Cancel all my appointments.”

The link above to the YourErie cancellation list contains a staggering 73 entries. Most of them are churches and schools and volunteer activities, but not all of them. Gannon, Mercyhurst (Prep and University), and Penn State Behrend all closed. Saint Vincent’s Outpatient Cardiac Rehab Phase 3 closed, whatever that is. The garbage isn’t getting picked up. The mail isn’t even being delivered. The mail!

All of this is good news for a few reasons. First, for the schools, it’s nice to see decision-makers have the good sense not to force children out into subzero temps. Second, for employees of all the closed facilities, it’s a day to do whatever you want! Wake up slowly, make a nice breakfast, eat it while watching Maury (is Maury still on?) or some similar trash, think about starting a house project, then waste the day eating junk and playing on your phone instead.

Third, for all the rest of us that did need to work (a group among which I count myself), there’s something cool about that, too. There is a distinct, victorious feeling you get showing up to work on time on a -6 degree morning.

It starts even before you go outside. You know what’s coming, and you gear up for it like it’s a fight. You pretend you’re Leonidas, leading the Greeks of Sparta against the unstoppable force of King Xerxes’ Persians. No one thinks you should be out in this stuff, but you need money and stuff. You take the fight to Persia.

You go through the ritual curse words while brushing off your car. It struggles to start. You dodge Idiotville’s finest on the roads to your destination.

You walk into the building and close the door, and only then do you realize how loud it was outside from the wind. You realize you’d been sort of holding your breath out there. You gather yourself quickly, then make eye contact with a coworker. You see the look of respect that comes from not letting a little apocalyptic cold mess up your morning routine. (S)he knows what’s up. You shoot that look right back. Half the neighborhood might have stayed home in fear, but not you. No chance.

What I’m getting at is something I think about a lot each winter. Our lives are so full of everyone else’s news these days what with social media and the rest, it is increasingly hard to just live. The Polar Vortex is something good because it turns just living into news.

So get out there. Get some arctic air in your face. Or stay home and see if your house keeps the Vortex out. Survive it. Relish it. You’ll look back fondly on how you conquered the cold. You might as well not be miserable today.

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