The old joke has been modified: A sweater is a garment a citizen puts on when the government gets cold. Used to be child-mother. It still is, only the State has become our mother. And it has done so at our request.
The snowstorm Nemo—that it was given a name is another symptom of our decadence—dropped gently eight full inches of snow on New York City. This is not a lot. It was and is a weekly event in the near infrastructureless town in which I spent my formative years (tiny Gaylord, Michigan). Blasting through a foot of the freshly fallen stuff in a four-on-the-floor Chevy Chevette was not thought remarkable.
It was once not noteworthy in the larger town I moved to, either. As few as ten years ago, a snowfall this size would occasion nothing more than a radio announcement, “Alternate side parking suspended tomorrow.” Now we have salaried, pensioned, probably sober government officials running to the microphone before inclement weather telling us to “dress in layers.” Put on a sweater, I’m cold. Nanny-in-Chief Mike Bloomberg solemnly warned, “Do not go out. You might slip and fall in traffic.” I wish I were kidding.
Yesterday’s routine, predictable, even pretty normal winter event caused the Wall Street Journal to trumpet this headline:
Blizzard Resurrects Sandy Anxiety
Gas Lines Lengthen, Residents Stock Up as Storm Disrupts Roads, Rail, Flights
Were they talking about the handful of folks still living without heat down by the ocean, who understandably would not appreciate a layer of insulative snow on their roofs? No, sir, they were not. They were discussing New York residents in general, some of whom became anxious and rubbed their hands together fretfully. And why shouldn’t they? The storm had been trumpeted for forty-eight hours as “possibly deadly”, “historic”, “powerful”, “Get out and shop now before it’s too late!” People did:
Moe Akar, a co-owner of an Exxon station in Bloomfield, N.J., said he had run out of all grades of gas by noon Friday and experienced about double the pump volume as normal.
“People got scared,” he said.
On top of all this, flights were canceled. Trains, too. People, in no danger of losing their lives, had to wait. Why doesn’t the government do something? The phones of therapists began to ring.
But no calls came from the Starr household. They sat out the storm, hunkered in their “weekly family meeting.” What was on the agenda? “[E]veryday family issues.” Before these sedative conclaves, Mrs (if we’re still allowed that honorific) Starr said, “We were living in complete chaos.”
Like many parents, the Starrs were trapped between the smooth-running household they aspired to have and the exhausting, earsplitting one they actually lived in. “I was trying the whole ‘love them and everything will work out’ philosophy,” she said, “but it wasn’t working. ‘For the love of God,’ I finally said, ‘I can’t take this any more.’”
As dad Bruth said, “Having weekly family meetings increased communication, improved productivity, lowered stress and made everyone much happier to be part of the family team.” Perhaps confused by these strange words, the WSJ reporter wrote, “The past few years have seen a rapid erosion of the wall that once divided work and family…A new generation of parents is now taking solutions from the workplace and transferring them home.”
Family meetings used to be called “dinner.” Things change. My dad’s idea of increasing productivity was to hand me a sledge and wedge and tell me to split more wood. No wood, no heat. There wasn’t then a government program to deliver logs. There probably is now. And there’s probably another to regulate the process or yet one more to fine you for generating “flue pollutants.”
The last full-page headline of today’s paper (each of today’s headlines topped a different section) was a lament by a female named Rachel Dodes and her “nerve-racking, soul-searching, exhilarating process of Shopping for a Handbag.” Poor thing, for months she has “been carrying a decidedly unglamorous bag to work.” “Nobody,” she said, “likes it.”
We learn Rachael has spent “countless hours looking at images of bags online”, none of which were acceptable. Which explains why she then began “wallowing in a shame spiral for spending so much time thinking about something as inconsequential as a sack in which to stuff my sorries.”
Luckily our heroine learned she wasn’t alone and that other females felt as she did. We hear from many of these ladies. We commiserate with their woes. There may have been tears.
They were from me.