Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Kidding: Experience vs. Intelligence

We'll agree that our commentaries the last two days have been a bit heavy, as we think befit the situation our country has been facing. But there's another major issue most of you, our readers, have been facing - regardless of where you live in America.


Our staff at the Daily Felltoon has considerable experience facing midwest winters - some of us were even born and raised in Nebraska. Still, the Northern Plains isn't the only region of the country facing a snow-filled welcome month in 2011. From coast to coast, from North to South, and nearly everywhere in between, old man winter and young Jack Frost seem to be tag-teaming most of the country in snow and ice.

When winter slams areas of the country that are comparatively unprepared for it, Nebraskans and other midwesterners often laugh at the minor struggles of their fellow Americans. We admit, we've also been guilty in pointing at other areas of the country, and questioning their weather intelligence levels.

What we've discovered in all of our traveling this past year is that maybe we shouldn't be laughing.

For example, take something that Nebraskans and other midwesterners take for granted: Snow brigades.

Most of you know exactly what we're talking about; small groups of individuals, who have agreements to clear snow away from businesses or small residential or rural areas. When large amounts of snow fall, most people who belong to a snow brigade call their regular employers, and let the employer know that they have snow brigade duty.

Almost like National Guard duty, most employers simply agree, and let their employees go for a day. No argument, no charging them with a 'sick day' - and no loss of their job, either. Sure, most employers don't count it as a paid day off for those employees who call in to clear snow - but most people on snow brigades get paid for their efforts anyway, so there's no real loss for either employer or employee.

In most parts of the country outside of the midwest, when you say 'snow brigade', you may as well be speaking to others in alien tongues.

That's not a knock on those who aren't used to midwestern winters. It's just a gentle reminder that not all parts of the country are set up to handle the same kind of winter weather issues that Nebraskans and other midwesterners are used to.

For others to be as prepared for winter as midwesterners, would be like Nebraskans stockpiling hammers and plywood to board up their windows before a tropical storm.

That doesn't mean midwesterners shouldn't be able to do a little finger pointing and chuckling at their fellow Americans. Just don't believe it's a lack of weather smarts that leads others to shut down whole regions when they get levels of snow that Plains inhabitants simply scoff at.

Those non-midwesterners just don't get that much snow, usually. Then again, these are unusual times.

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