Most days I enjoy going to the grocery store about as much as I like scooping the litter box. With both, I’m required to use cheap, plastic bags that allow everything to dump out of the bottom, and whatever I end up picking out is almost always something I don’t want.
That probably explains why general panic sets in when I see the forecast calling for more than three inches of snow. It means that I am obligated to hit the grocery store in anticipation of what I like to call New England Armageddon.
I’ve never understood why potential snow accumulation requires everyone to flock to the store in sweaty alarm to stock up on eggs, milk and bread. While I like French toast as much as the next person, I’m pretty sure that I can get through a day or two without it if necessary.
In spite of that, I still find myself swept up in the snowpocalypse hysteria. Even if I just cleaned off the shelves of a warehouse club the day before, I rush off to the store just in case I missed something I just can’t live without for three or four hours till the snowplow comes through.
Once I get there, I usually end up buying a bunch of weird stuff that I don’t actually need, like thumb tacks and oat bran in the event that I decide to redecorate and correct any occasional irregularities at the same time.
What always surprises me is that there isn’t a line of cars blocking the entrance to the local package store. Because, let’s be honest: If it came down to being trapped in the house with my husband or kids for some indefinite length of time and I had to choose between food and merlot, I’m sure I could stand to lose a few pounds.
You think I’d be used to bad weather. I grew up in Minnesota where snow is more abundant than oxygen and the only two seasons are winter and Mother’s Day. Because of that, nothing short of a direct comet strike shuts down the state. There weren’t too many snow days when I was a kid, at least not at my school, where “Snow or Die” was the motto.
It didn’t matter if every city block within a 400-mile radius was destroyed in some sort of arctic tsunami, Kennedy Elementary School remained open. And thanks to my parents, who didn’t want my brother and me in the house any longer than required, if there was a school bus anywhere nearby, we were on it, regardless of whether it came after lunch or if it was sticking out of a ditch.
One year, after an unfortunate series of events left us with a record amount of snow and a broken snow blower, my dad freaked out and insisted that we clear our long, gravel driveway without the benefit of any sort of heavy equipment, so he could go to work.
Because there were only two shovels and my dad suffered from a “bad back,” my mom and I were recruited for active duty.
For hours we worked while he stood with his hands on his hips and supervised our progress. As we finally closed in on the end of the driveway, my shovel broke in half from the weight of the snow. Relieved, I assumed that this meant that my tenure as a human backhoe was over.
Instead, I watched as my dad disappeared into the garage for a few minutes before returning and handing me a dust pan.
Eventually we finished the job and my dad was liberated. Frankly, we weren’t sorry to see him go.
Sometimes I like to think about what my kids would say if I told them they had to go out and shovel our driveway with a couple of dust pans. Lucky for them, we have a guy who plows, making that scenario unlikely to play out in real life.
And now that I think about it, going to the grocery store and scooping the litter box don’t seem so bad.