4 Annual Things We All Forget To Prepare For Every Year
Every year, the sun circles our little flat blue disc and we celebrate the passage of time by sacrificing goats and people who vape to the forest gods in exchange for prosperity and fully functional boners in the new year. It happens like clockwork. Because it is clockwork, it's the way time works. Which makes it kind of weird that so many things seem to catch certain people by surprise despite the fact that they literally happen every single year and have done so for ages now. Maybe pencil this shit in for next year.
Driving In Snow
Remember back in 2014 when there was a snowstorm in Atlanta that was so bad, people were stuck on the highway for more than a day? And by snowstorm, I mean two inches of snow fell. That particular incident is a fun example of unpreparedness but you can at least forgive the people of Atlanta as they're not used to snow all that often, except for things like that other storm in 2011 and 2010 and 2009 and, well, it snows in Atlanta. It happens every year. But it also happens pretty much everywhere north of Florida these days and for some reason, every single year, the moment it hits the ground, everyone forgets how to drive, or even how cars work.
Look at that. You got the spinturn in the middle, and the needle to let you know if you need to sing louder. All set!
Every year, winter shows up and a large portion of the population seems as flabbergasted as a dog trying to figure out calculus, which is silly because dogs excel at algebra and little else.
Most of these stories will say it's likely due to the suddenness of the particular storm, but is it really sudden? Is weather that happens every year at the same time truly sudden? Even assuming the forecast didn't call for snow, which it probably did in most cases, isn't being surprised by snow in the winter like being surprised that a boner looks obvious in bicycle shorts? These things necessarily go together and always have.
This year, I happened to have the good fortune to be out shopping during the first serious snowfall in my neck of the woods and I literally had to go full GTA to avoid being destroyed by two separate yet equally baffled drivers who didn't realize that going twice the speed limit on a snow-covered road means your brakes aren't going to be all up to snuff. I was both fast and, to a degree, furious, as I managed to make my way into a lane usually reserved for oncoming traffic in an effort to not be smeared across the road by an SUV. Then, a short time later, I hopped a curb to avoid a rusty Corolla that seemed to be manned by a near-sighted chimp.
I bet he's still out there, wondering why everything bad in his life seems to happens in January.
Would these incidents have happened in balmy, summer weather? Probably not. Does balmy, summer weather happen the week before Christmas? Not north of the 42nd parallel.
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, according to a thing that I think was recorded by Gwar. And what's not to love? There's presents and stuffing and, for some reason, an abundance of assorted nuts. And there's also tragically unreliable mail.
Don't worry. You'll get these on Marsh 1st, which, if you believe hard enough, is still kind of Christmas.
If you've ever sent a package or a card at Christmas, and by that I mean the 30 days on either side of the actual day we celebrate Christmas, you've probably just taken it for granted that it's going to take more time to get where it's going. And why shouldn't it, right? In 2015, the United States Postal Service was expecting to process 15 billion pieces of mail over the course of the holiday season. That's a shitload of Batman Christmas cards.
The problem is that probably at least one guy at the post office worked there last Christmas. And if that asshole didn't mention to everyone else that things are going to get hectic in December, that dude should be fired. If you run a business selling fuckable pumpkins, you're going to stock up on supplies and extra staff when Pumpkin Fucking Day rolls around. That's just good business. And if it turns out you underestimated the crowds one year, you prepare even better for next year. Benjamin Franklin was the first Postmaster General in 1775, so the post office has existed for a hell of a long time. During that period, Christmas has occurred every single year on the exact same day. If you can't get your shit together in 200 years, you need new management.
Of course, in Benjamin Franklin's time, if you got your letter in the same year that it was sent, it was a fucking miracle.
The post office has just conditioned us to accept the slow service over the holidays and we let them off the hook because of that 15 billion number. That seems like a lot, how could we expect more? But we can expect more because this isn't a surprise. They hire 30,000 extra employees to help manage the holiday influx. Hire 40,000 next year, you jackasses. Because it's not just grandma's shortbread that shows up late, it's paychecks and bills and insurance forms and all sorts of important mail that everyone gets screwed out of because the post office hasn't mastered understanding a calendar in over two centuries.
The world is getting hotter thanks to climate change or, if you're one of the people who doesn't want to believe in climate change, then maybe there's just a lot of dragons underground farting up fireballs that are in turn making things steamy. You do you, Bill Nye. But it's undeniable that summers continue to get hotter and that means people need to cool down.
Every single year since probably the early '90s, this has meant the local news will devote about five minutes on the hottest day of the year to covering how there are no more air conditioners in town. This usually occurs in the middle of a heat wave and can be hilariously interspliced with stories about how the elderly and infirm could die thanks to the heat.
No one likes being hot; it's gross. You sweat, you smell, you stick to fake leather, and public transit is an absolute must-avoid situation owing to barely fathomable levels of blargh. You'd assume then that some people might plan ahead and just buy a new AC unit if they need it at the beginning of summer. And some people probably do. Those are the folks sipping on mojitos and watching COPS in comfort. Then a seemingly massive portion of the rest of the population shows up on the news wearing stained tank tops and jean shorts with a face so shiny it could be used to signal airplanes.
We can't see you, ground control. Mind doing some jumping jacks so that visibility improves?
Back in 2010, there was a heat wave in Russia so bad 1200 people drowned in the month of June. But wait, you say, that sentence makes as much sense as pissing in your own eye to sharpen your vision. Well, turns out Russians got the brilliant idea to combat the 98 degree heat by swimming. But not by not drinking. So when a massive swarm of hot, stanky Russians up to their tits in vodka go for a swim, a good number of them don't return to the surface. Again, despite the fact that summer is hot, no one seems to realize it's going to happen again this year.
Obviously, just going out and buying an air conditioner is not in the cards for everyone, these things don't grow on trees and often the cheapest ones are still about $100 or so. But the same thing seems to happen to fans every year. My fan broke in August and I went to a Walmart to get a new one. There, I was met with the single most cynical Walmart employee in the entire franchise, one who first answered my question regarding the presence of fans with a hearty guffaw before spinning a yarn about how I would probably not find another fan for sale at any store in the entire city, nor would I for weeks. All of the nearby towns were apparently suffering from a fanstinction event that I was quite foolish to not be aware of.
Good night, my beloved.
When all else fails, a trip to the local pool is a surefire way to cool down on a hot day, unless your town has people in it. If that's the case, the public pool is often less a fun place to cool down and more a terrifying damp torture device in which 1000 people are wedged like sardines and everyone pretends they're not soaking in a urine bouillabaisse. Hey, a Russian joke and then a pee joke. Where have I heard those recently?
If you've ever had the brilliant idea to go away for Labor Day or the 4th of July and you live in a city with a population above 500,000 or so, you've probably spent a good deal of time parked on the interstate watching the grass grow as the cars around you move forward several inches then stop. They repeat this again and again as that one guy in a Porsche thinks changing lanes 15 times in 10 minutes will get him closer to his goal.
If I drive up as far as I can and THEN merge, I'll go faster. Simple science, bro.
The problem with holiday traffic isn't necessarily that it exists -- of course it exists. Until the government elects to construct several more lanes, or we get flying cars, or you get bit by a radioactive mole and tunnel your way to vacation bliss, the fact is that you're going to get stuck in traffic on busy traffic days. The issue is that it seems like no one knew it would happen. It's going to happen. Bring a White Snake cassette and some Twizzlers, we're in for the long haul.
The best kind of candy for long trips is the kind that melts easiest in the sun. Also science.
I made the foolish mistake of heading into Chicago once on a major holiday from way out in the terrible Illinois suburbs. I think we were actually just parked in the same spot for a half hour at one point because if they can't do massive freeway construction on the 4th of July, when the hell can they do it? Anyway, as we sat there and stewed in the sun, I watched a man in the next lane evolve from innocuous driver sharing the road with me to caged rage monster. He honked his horn as though he'd just discovered it existed while literally punching his steering wheel. Throughout his display, he either frequently yawned like a baboon or screamed his head off inside his own car. Had we stayed there any longer, I assume he would have started chewing the upholstery or his head would have literally popped like a balloon.
You officially can't get mad at holiday traffic. Physically, you can, I guess, but you have no right to and will garner no sympathy from anyone. Your anger is misplaced and, if we're being honest, totally silly bullshit. I'm talking full on silly. Remember when you were a kid and the teacher said you were silly for eating paste or trying to put your shoes on backwards or whatever goofball shit you did for attention before you understood how to spell your own name? We're talking that sort of silly, but if it ended with the teacher calling you a dickhead instead. Did your kindergarten teacher ever call you a dickhead? Probably not, but imagine how silly you would have had to act to push them that far. That's screaming at busy traffic-level silly. Dickhead.
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