In the world of immediate gratification, fast Internet connections, abbreviation-only texting and the supposed belief that everything can be quickly dealt with, I love it when we actually have to slow down and take our time. Last weekend, 17 inches of snow became the boss of us. We could rail against the inconvenience, or we could accept that we don't control everything.
Funny enough, I had been reading "All Hell Broke Loose," about Minnesota's Armistice Day Blizzard in 1940. The majority of the first-person accounts are overwhelmingly positive; there are a few selfish moments, but when aren't there in life? For the most part, the resilience and sheer gumption of that generation dealing with the snowstorm are touching and inspiring. They seem to have been a tougher, more durable lot, definitely not the spawn of helicopter parents. They seem more likely to take time to listen, not always rushing, and certainly more accepting of what was dealt to them.
I don't mean to slam who we all are, in this place and time. I saw a lot of kindness last Saturday. My neighbors helped each other push cars and move snow, and did it cheerfully and willingly. But I think we've become a group of people, overall, who want everything fixed immediately, including insane amounts of snow that really has no place to go. And we all seemed so impatient as the fallout from the storm continued one, or two, or -- Yikes! -- even three days beyond the actual event.
It's like my kids' agitation when the Internet isn't fast enough for them or their phone service hits a dead spot. They roar at the inconvenience. They're spoiled by speed. I can't even imagine them using a rotary phone. It would take too long to dial.
Plow drivers can work only so fast. Snow in the city has to be piled by the side of the road. Life is going to slow down for a while, traveling is going to be tough, and I have a feeling we might have a really grueling winter ahead. So what? It's not the end of the world.
A woman waiting with me at the bus stop the other day was complaining about the gas station on our corner not shoveling the sidewalk. I pointed out that the snow was about four and a half feet high and possibly too difficult to move, to which she replied, "They got their lot plowed out. I guess it's just about money for them." Sheesh.
And a coworker was griping about the Dome roof collapsing. She thought they should have had men up there shoveling all night. I asked her how safe that would be, and she seemed flummoxed by the question. Maybe she should have volunteered.
Maybe the storm is a reminder to take a breath, to just watch what the world delivers. And to say thanks to all those bus drivers, mail carriers, couriers and especially to my Sunday paper carrier, who delivered the Strib to my front door at 7 p.m. Sunday, when the road was finally clear. Bless your heart. Your Christmas card is in the mail.
Kim Walsh, a lifelong resident of south Minneapolis, works in a law library. She is a source in MPR's Public Insight Network.