Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I am not a wimp (nor a whiner) but here's how it is

When I was a young adult, I joked with my friends about "suburban mentality." I grew up in the suburbs, and lived and worked there as a 20-something, but I felt a huge intolerance for people who said that they "don't go into the city." Going into the city meant a half hour drive or 45 minute transit ride (before we got light rail) to enjoy the parks, theatres, restaurants, galleries, nightclubs, shopping and events of our big city life. I had grown up going "into the city" to shop, see the orthodontist, go to the beach, attend workshops, and do any number of fun things. Who would miss that to live a limited existence in just Burnaby, Surrey or Port Moody? My friends and I thought this attitude was terribly provincial and dowdy.

I'm a little more charitable in my attitude these days. To each his own, I say. I still like to go to Vancouver whenever there's something there to do, or somebody there to see. It's still just a half hour drive from home, or a short skytrain ride after work or on the weekend. The suburbs are not that far away from the centre of things.

In recent days, the snow has made me cautious about going places from which I might not get safely home in reasonable time. Tonight I had a conversation with my friend Lisa. Lisa and I are planning to host the Van Slam Bingo Slam next Monday night. I had to tell Lisa that if there is a big snowfall I will not be able to come. I will have to cancel and leave her on her own to host the event. I have a car with 4 snow tires and I feel pretty confident driving in the snow, but I have some challenges about getting home in the snow. I feel like a big weinie, but here's the situation:

We live on a hill. When there's more than a bit of snow on the ground, the road up the hill gets slippery, so slippery that my car will not go up the hill. At the bottom of the hill there is a highway.

Solution #1 Drive almost all the way home and park at the bottom of the hill.
There are about 10 parking spots on the road going up the hill. I have parked there sometimes when I have not been able to drive up. I park the car and walk home. I rescue the car the next day, or whenever the snow melts.
Problem with solution number 1: The snow has accumulated over the past 2 1/2 weeks to the point where there is nowhere to park. The snowplow has left mounds of heavy compacted snow, 2 to 4 feet deep and reaching reaching a few feet out from the curb. Some people have shovelled spots for their cars, but they don't want stuck people parking there, and the spots fill in every time it snows again. There's another road, up above our house, accessible by another route, but the parking situation is equally bad up there.

Solution #2 Take the bus
Sounds good! I have my bus pass, we have 15 minute service a short walk from home. I have no "suburban" hangups about using transit. I try to use the bus whenever I don't need the car during my work day. The kids take the bus to school and university every day.
Problem with solution number 2: The bus is no longer running in our neighbourhood. At first we thought it was because of the snow, but it turns out, the bus can't safely make it around all of the cars that have been illegally parked far out from the curb along the bus route, and not dug out or moved between snowfalls. The bus whizzes by on the main road and skips our neighbourhood,

Solution #3 Walk out to the main road and take that bus
Exercise is good for us, and having a bus come into the neighbourhood is a luxury. Just walk out to the main road and catch the big bus.
Problem with solution #3: On a typical day, it's just a 10-15 minute walk to the bus stop on the main road. The kids and I do it all the time, whenever we don't want to wait for the local bus, which goes to 1/2 hour service outside of peak times. But this snow has piled up on the sidewalk along the busy highway that is the route to the bus stop. Our choice is to wade through knee deep heavy thawed and re-frozen snow for a about a kilometer, or to walk out on the highway and jump into the knee-deep heavy thawed and re-frozen snow whenever a car passes (about ever 2.5 seconds). Not safe. Not fun.

So I'm stuck. If I go out on a winter night and it snows, or if the snow is melting and it gets cold and freezes and gets icy, I have to stay in Vancouver all night. And while my family could cope with this, they prefer that I come home.

So I find myself acting like those silly suburbanites who I reviled so readily in my youth. At the threat of poor weather, I cancel my plans, rush home and stay put. Suddenly my own safety, and the safety and ease of mind of my loved ones takes precedence over adventure and cultural enrichment.

Luckily, it is only temporary. In the meantime. I'm crossing my fingers for a warm, rainy Monday evening so I can go host the BINGO SLAM!

question: do you go into the city?

mompoet - I love and accept you, either way


Pearl said...

would there be one Feb 9th too? I'll be in Van then...

mompoet said...

That's wonderful, Pearl. Yes! there will be a slam. Feb 9 is our Pan African Slam, hosted by Kevan Cameron aka Scruffmouth. I hope to see you there. It will be great to meet in person.


Pearl said...

cool. Cafe Deux Soleils, right. and I'll do a couple readings while I'm in town, including at Pulp Fiction on the 5th, Thursday night.