--> divine angst: funny story...

Monday, January 10, 2005

funny story...

See this? The Reno-Tahoe area has received 19 feet of snow at higher (+7000 feet) elevations and up to 6-1/2 feet at lower elevations since December 28.

My dad was caught in some of that early snow. See, it all started when he went out there for a few days of R&R before the Rose Bowl. He was leaving from Reno on New Year's Eve, but staying in Tahoe.

Now, if you know anything about the Lake Tahoe area, you'll know that the only commercial airport that serves it is in Reno, and Reno is a bit of a haul away from Tahoe—particularly South Lake Tahoe.

Back to our protagonist. Smart man that he is, seeing that four feet of snow has fallen on the 30th, he changes his 6:00 am flight to 10:30 am. He orders a cab for 6:00 am, goes to sleep, and figures he'll get woken up by the snowplows when they come by at 5:15 am, as they have all week.

But the snowplows do not come. (He does, however, wake up.) He hopes they'll come and passes the time shoveling the stairs down to the road. It takes him 45 minutes to clear a path down the stairs that is approximately 1-1/2" wide. The snowplows still have not come.

At 6:00 am the cabbie calls and says he can't get up the road to where my dad is staying. That road is covered in four feet of snow. So my dad—remember, he's smart!—puts on his heavy coat, then his waterproof ski shell, and his snow boots. He somehow leaves his gloves behind. He throws his carry-on over one shoulder and his hanging bag over the other, and starts walking. Through chest high snow. For about a third of a mile.

It is, by the way, still snowing. About 200 feet out, he stops and looks back and cannot see his tracks. He can't even really see the house. So he keeps going. He makes it another few hundred feet and is pretty sure he's going to die. His chest is pounding. He's breathing in snow. HE IS NOT WEARING GLOVES.

It takes him another 45 minutes to get down to the road where the cabbie is. (What a great cabbie, waiting for him!) He is soaked and he cannot feel his hands. The cab drops him off at one of the casinos so he can catch a shuttle to the airport.

He's soaked, remember, so he treks to a bathroom, where they are mopping the floors. He asks the cleaning guy to hold off a few minutes mopping so he can change clothes, but the guy doesn't listen. My dad stands on his wet jeans—hey, they were wet already—and does the clothes-changing dance. He wrings out his heavy wool socks, which appear to have been dunked in Lake Tahoe (average water temp: 50˚). At the front desk, he asks for three laundry bags, into which go his wet jeans and shirt, his sodden socks and boots, and his dripping coat. He checks them with the bellhop for the weekend and scurries out to the shuttle deck.

Then he waits. The shuttle is almost an hour late, so he gets to the airport a scant 30 minutes before his flight. Then his flight is delayed another 45 minutes. He is shaking and coughing—and still can't feel his right thumb—but he makes it to LA.

Why, you ask, would he do this? I asked the same thing. The answer? "I had everyone's tickets to the football game—all eight of them—and they'd have missed the Rose Bowl if I hadn't made it." Was it worth it? "Oh, yeah. The game was great! And I got the feeling back in my thumb later that night. Of course, I was coughing up snow for three days. And sort of shaky all weekend. But the game was great!"

The moral of the story is: always wear your gloves. Also: don't be stupid and walk out into record snowfall in the cold, dark, early morning. Especially if that record snowfall is chest high. Even if you have eight tickets to the Rose Bowl in your pocket. In the grand scheme of things, it's just a football game.