Saturday, January 22, 2005

Snow emergency

The other day I started complaining that my blog doesn't have enough pictures. Whilst Googling for images of professional wrestlers always delivers, I decided to take a few pictures of my own. So, it's field-trip time blogateers. I hope you have your permission slip, and be sure to keep track of your buddy -- today we're Waking Up Early On A Saturday To Move The Car.

We finally got a reasonable amount of snow in the Twin Cities Friday, which meant that a snow emergency was declared. The rules of a snow emergency vary by municipality, the only consistent elements being that the rules are confusing and that they require you to crawl out of bed and move your car by 8 a.m. My alarm was set for 7:50. I rolled out of bed, threw on some warm clothes, and stepped outside to the first proper winter day we've had this season.

To other people, especially those who aren't from here, we've had plenty of proper winter days, extending all the way back to November. Last week temperatures struggled to get above 0 Fahrenheit. But it just doesn't feel like winter without a load of snow on the ground. As you can see from the picture below -- looking east from the steps of my apartment building -- it finally feels like winter.

Still facing east in the picture below, I am now standing in the middle of Grand Avenue. In a perfect world, there would be trolley tracks right where I'm standing. Grand Avenue was home to the first electric trolley line in the Twin Cities. But, as Esther alluded to the other day, evil infiltrated our fair metro area in the 1950s and the rail cars were burned (the man receiving the check, Fred Albin Ossanna, was convicted of fraud on Aug. 6, 1960, in connection with his dismantling of the rail lines. I hope he and James Towley [the man presenting the check] are presently burning in hell).
These days one can only stand in the middle of the road, their toes freezing at 8 a.m. on a Saturday, and think: "Wow. This waking up and trudging through snow to move my car is so much better than an adequate public transportation system. Fuck you very much James Towley, Fred Ossanna, Charles Green (began dismantling rail lines until it was discovered he had connections to organized crime), General Motors (pushed for dismantling so as to be able to sell buses), and everyone else who set the Twin Cities back by a good century. Fuck you very, very much."

All bitterness aside, there are still several advantages to living in St. Paul. For one thing, they tend not to tow your car during snow emergencies. According to the city's website "It will cost you $128.40 to get your vehicle out of the impound lot if you pick it up before midnight the day it is towed. A $15 storage fee is added to that amount for each additional day the vehicle is left there." That's in addition to a $43 ticket.
But, unlike the money-grubbing bastards in Minneapolis, St. Paul will more often than not let the car owner off with just the cost of the ticket and the frustration of having to dig themselves out of the 3-foot wall of ice and snow that the plows have pushed against their car.
Sure, by failing to tow, the city of St. Paul loses a bit of money, but it wins the hearts and minds of its citizens, who then find themselves willing to overlook municipal failures like the inadequate public transportation system; or the Ford Parkway Bridge, upon which construction was completed in the spring but for which pedestrian railing on the southern side still does not exist; or the potholed roads in my neighborhood that make every day feel like a Hummer commercial. The owner of the car below doesn't care about any of that. He's just saved $130.

This is my corner liquor store, Thomas Liquors. If I were a wine snob, I would probably be even more ruthlessly dedicated to this store. That said, I feel guilty when I find myself buying beer from any other place.

Across the street from Thomas Liquors is Grand Performance, a bike shop that I have never been in -- primarily because I do not own a bicycle. If it had been a spring/summer/fall day, the shop would be swarming with hard-core cyclists in all their fancy skin-tight gear. Whole platoons of cyclists will use the shop as a starting-/ending-/mid-point.

With Grand Performance to my left, the picture below was taken facing south at the corner of Grand Avenue and Prior Avenue. Rachel and I had been celebrating my mother's birthday in the wilds of Bloomington, Minn., Friday night, so we got in rather late. As a result, I had to park my truck two blocks down.

The picture below was taken at the intersection of Prior and Lincoln (still facing south) -- one more block to go. You'll notice that the plows have simply gone around the car on the left.
Incidentally, this is the route I take when walking to the bar. Had it not been 8 a.m., I likely would have done that after moving my truck.

The picture below is a wintry scene facing west at the intersection of Prior and Goodrich. One of the cheesily beautiful things about St. Paul is that it has the capacity to at times look like a Thomas Kinkade painting. I wonder if I could sell outrageously overpriced pictures of my neighborhood to ridiculously wealthy Southerners? Probably could, actually. But it would make my soul hurt.

Turning around and facing east from the same intersection, you can see my truck there on the left. The guy on the right was stuck in and I had to help push his car out of a drift.

And here's a close-up of my beloved always-causing-me-problems Ford Ranger, which was manufactured at the Ford plant just a mile or so down the road. In the summers, the guys who work overnights at the plant like to spend their mornings getting drunk and fishing the Mississippi River.
Anyone who has ever been to St. Paul is probably at this point shocked that I walked about three blocks without passing a church. I assure you that there is an Episcopal church just one more block down.

And here's goofy-looking ol' me, proudly holding my ice scraper like some sort of scepter. I am considering replacing the current "About Me" picture with this one. What do you think?
After scraping all the ice off the truck, I then drove it up a whole entire block onto a street that had been plowed, trudged back to the apartment, and Rachel made me pancakes.

The end.


Rebecca said...

lucky you with the snow...just lots and lots of rain here, but that's what Seattle is known for, right? However the 60 degree temps are a little out of the norm...

I vote that you DO sub that pic for the old one.

Jenny said...

That was fun! I wish it would snow here.

I vote YES to photo change. You look very noble.

Desert Cat said...

If I had to live in an urban area, I wouldn't mind living in that part of St. Paul. I lived there once for about a year, on Ashton (was it Ashton, or something else that starts with an A, two blocks north of Grand) Avenue in a graceful old house--the kind of house that would be greatly rewarding to restore.

But that would require me to live in Minnesota again. After 32 years I had quite enough of what your pictures depict.

kari said...

it does officially look like winter now.
a couple of winters ago, i was one of the sad sacks who were not only ticketed in minneapolis but also towed during a snow emergency -- i missed saving my car by 5 minutes. so now i'm glad to hear that, as a homeowner in st. paul, they choose not to add insult to injury and will just plow you in. seems decent in this harsh climate.
thanks for the field trip.

Charlotte said...

That's a nice picture and all (and especially menacing with the inclusion of the ice scraper), but I can't help but think that you should put those two sexy guys from Wednesday's post as your "About Me" picture!

Chris Cope said...

Charlotte, if I could be bothered to isolate just the French bloke, that would be the "About Me" picture.