Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Cone of Dumbness

Do you remember the "cone of silence" that never worked in the TV comedy Get Smart? Well in Washington, DC, we have the "Cone of Dumbness." It sits right over the beltway that surrounds the city. Every time the weather forecasters predict a "snow event," the cone comes down and without a doubt, everyone inside it goes brain dead.

Today "they" predict two inches (5cm) of snow to fall during the day. Mind you, it's NOT snowing yet (at 6:30am ET). OMG, you would think the end of the world is here. What's worse is that later this evening, we may get up to to 2" of sleet -- predicted to fall in the evening. Sure, tomorrow will be bad for commuting, but not today. Though you wouldn't know it from all the mass hysteria.

Last night, I forgot about the snow prediction, and dropped by the grocery store on my way home from work to get some grated cheese for dinner. Ooops... shouldn't have done that. The lines were incredibly long and it looked like the store had been decimated. I kid you not, one guy who couldn't find a cart was standing in line juggling milk, butter, eggs, diapers, and a bunch of other stuff, while cradling a cell phone in his ear, whining to his wife about the store not having whatever he wanted to eat for dinner. I bailed from the store and just came home.

Then at a meeting last night, would you believe one woman even had the temerity to ask the local zoning officials if schools would be closed today. The zoning folks have nothing to do with deciding if and when to close schools. Just what was this woman thinking? (or smoking?)

The TV news isn't any help at all -- they hype it up so much that it's no wonder everyone goes nuts. And you'd think: a large number of residents of the DC area come from "snow country." That is, they came here from places that would get lots of snow every winter. They handled it just fine. They dressed properly for it, too. But not those who now live or work within the "cone of dumbness."

This morning, the SUVs are on the road, in 4-wheel drive mode -- and it's not snowing (yet). This little snippet from a local news source just had me rolling on the floor laughing:

Bill is making plans for getting out and getting to work today. "If it shuts a few things down, it probably won't shut down that much. And I have four-wheel drive, so it's about time I got to use it."

I just betcha he's the type of guy who gets in his 4WD and tries to drive on ice like it's a dry road on a sunny day. I'll see him (or his kind) in a ditch on the side of the road, standing next to his vehicle, out in the snow, yapping on a cell phone. It happens all the time.

Salt trucks are idling in the parking lot, waiting for the "go" signal. Schools closed for the prediction. And at the Metro subway stop were the yuppies in their tassled loafers or dress wingtips, thin socks, suit jacket, no hat, no gloves. I betcha the minute they see a flake of snow in the air, each and every one of them will be trying to rush home before they get snowed in for the rests of the century.

I'm so glad I don't have a response role any more as I had with previous employers. I can just sit back, watch, and have a good laugh at the "cone of dumbness" doing its thing: causing the yuppies to "lose it" and get hysterical over a dusting of snow. I'll just wait patiently in my office for the crowds to thin out, then meet my partner and go home. Carefully, but dressed appropriately with tall, warm boots, cord pants and longjohns, several layers on top, a coat with a hood, and mittens (which are warmer than gloves). We'll be okay.

And for those of you from snow belt areas, don't laugh too hard at this. It's just a part of the local DC culture -- forget everything you learned and rush into mass hysteria all for a few flakes of snow.

Life is short: enjoy it, even if it's about stupid stuff!

1 comment:

Eugene said...

I see DC folks have a deeply entrenched siege mentality. Singapore's founding father would have been proud to have these folks as his citizens.

Makes me wonder what happens if the met service projected 4 inches of snow. ;)