OPINION

Snow 2044

Trevor Soderstrum

In a decade or two, I am sure that robotic snow blowers will be as commonplace as robot vacuum cleaners are now. As the first flakes of snow hits the driveway, they will be out keeping our pathways slick free. As they go about doing the tasks they were built to do, if I am lucky enough to still be around, I will become that old man talking about how he had to walk to school uphill, both ways. “You kids have it so easy. Back in my day, when it snowed, there was this thing called a shovel. It was basically a stick with a scoop on the end of it. You would have to take this shovel, get between the snow and the ground, lift the snow up and throw it or push it off the driveway.”

Trevor Soderstrum

“I bet it had a sweet electric engine on it, Grandpa.”

“The only engine it had was your back and arms. We were naturally strong back then, unlike you kids today with your fancy muscle building machines and chemicals. We didn’t display our muscle man bodies to others. We hid them under layers of fat like God intended because we were humble. Scoop, throw, scoop, throw, repeat and repeat and repeat again until you are done. It might take you an hours to get done. Then you went inside, laid down on the couch, and were grouchy for the rest of the day, as you complained about how much your back hurt. It was the way people did it for thousands of years. It was miserable.”

“Is that why the dinosaurs went extinct?”

“No, but there was this thing called 'heart attack' snow. Old men with bad hearts refused to listen to their doctors. They thought they knew everything. You know, the reason America is great. They would start lifting and moving this snow around. Next thing you know they are sweating and clutching their chests. They did not understand that this was the reason you had children and crippled them emotionally so they stayed nearby. It was miserable.”

“At least you were warm in your heated thermal coats, old man.”

“No, people wore bulky and puffy jackets to stay warm back then. It made everyone you met so much more attractive. If it was not for ski masks and mufflers, ugly men might have died out. You might meet a girl, fall in love, and not know if she was fat or skinny until the wedding night.”

“Why didn’t you move to somewhere warm and tropical like California, Florida or Missouri?” 

“Because we were dumb. We believed bad weather and adversity builds character. If it is always 80 or 90 degrees out, with no snow to have to move, what do you have to complain about or be depressed over? You never looked around at your family and thought, ‘I am stuck in the house with these people. Lord, help me.’ There was no escape. You had to eat what was in the house” 

“A drone didn’t just bring you a pizza or land on your front porch with groceries?”

“The only drones we had were bitter and angry teenagers who drove broken down cars and hated their sad, broke-ass lives. You had to tip them, not just a crumpled up dollar bill, that was a piece of paper with the picture of a dead white guy that people used for money, or the kid would remember it. The next time you made an order they would spit in your food. Teenage spit was one of the five basic food groups in America back then.”

“Come on, grandpa. You expect us to believe people drove their cars. You didn’t just tell Siri or Alexa where you wanted to go and she took you there?”

“Seriously, people drove places. During a snowstorm, if you were dumb enough to drive in it or just lived in Wisconsin, there would be so much snow in the air that you could barely see anything. They called it ‘whiteout!’ If you want to know what that was like, just find old footage of a Jimmy Buffett concert and look at the crowd. Driving in those conditions was called 'white knuckling it' because it was so terrifying a person grabbed their steering wheel so tightly that their knuckles would turn white. The only thing I can compare it to in terror, was when your wife or girlfriend says, ‘We need to talk.’”

“Right, grandpa.”

“No, seriously, you would stay on the road by following the taillights of the car in front of you and hope they did not stop suddenly or go off the road because you were going to follow.”

“Any other tall tales, old man, like how people put chains on their tires?”

“They did when I was a kid. No, I’m serious. Where are you going?”