I was totally in the Christmas spirit until a little snow and ice shut down all flights in and out of Europe’s busiest airport. Right before Christmas. And the powers that be have somehow preemptively decided that these major ice problems will continue past Christmas. Because why would you wait and see when you can just shut down flights for an entire week on a whim during a time of year when people would literally sell a non-essential organ to go somewhere else and be with their loved ones. In many other parts of the world, like the whole of the United States, operating one of the busiest airports in the world and running one of the busiest cities in the world and a financial and commercial hub, might justify some expenditure on things like plows and gritting (salting) machines and the like. But not here. Because that would be insane. When instead you can just lose billions in lost revenue from loss of tourism and commerce because maybe two months ago it snowed for five minutes and you can’t figure out what to do with the leftover ice.
My personal pity party is ongoing. I have already done that thing from the movies where I have sat on the floor against a door and bawled for an extended period of time. You see, we were already on a pretty tight festive schedule of joy and love and family on our scheduled visit home to the US. Each hour we were in the States was dedicated to one of our four parent sets from four different homes and three siblings all travelling in from different states around the country. For us to arrive even one day late during the holiday throws the entire fragile balance into chaos. Each time I think of subtracting 24 hours from the already limited annual moments that I get to see my two brothers makes the waterworks begin all over again. And I will not bore you with the machinations and expense we are now undergoing involving a change of plans to fly out of Manchester which will add two additional train journeys, a hotel stay, a layover in Germany, and three additional hours of flight time with a newly-walking toddler just to get to DC one day later than scheduled.
But actually, that’s not what this post is about. Because, truth be told, this is not a tragedy. There are people with much worse stories and I hate competing for misery. And in the end, I am happy to have a family I love so deeply that it makes me cry to think I won’t see them when I think I will. And how badly I would jump through hoops to make sure I see my brothers for the five minutes when our travels overlap.
What this post is about is a euphemism I now despise: “adverse weather conditions”. It’s uniquely British I have decided, and so abhorrent to me, that I am strongly considering making an early exit on my visa extension. Because I am beginning to think I can’t live in a country that uses it so extensively.
For the third winter in a row (I am guessing for every winter of all time in the UK), there are a few days that involve snow and freezing temperatures. I am going to let you take a moment to process that. Snow. And freezing temperatures. I know what you’re thinking. Snow and freezing temperatures are CRAZY. That’s like sci-fi movie stuff. Nobody has ever experienced snow and freezing temperatures and lived to tell the tale!!! Oh wait, that’s not what you’re thinking? You’re thinking that snow and freezing temperatures are a fairly common occurrence in WINTER at NORTHERN LATITUDES? Let me mull that over.
So anyway, year after year Bryan and I have been noticing an inability for people and organizations to deal with such conditions here. You may recall when I wrote last year about all the businesses and transport links that completely shut down when it’s cold enough to require a coat.
So you would think I wouldn’t have been surprised when in the past few weeks the British drama started. People stopped coming to work, tube lines began to experience “severe delays”, taxi drivers bailed and one store even kept its door closed. It didn’t close down the store, it just closed its door. You just had to walk through the door to get into the store. On Saturday night we were on our way to Fulham for a birthday party and passed an electronics store with a sign on the door that said:
Due to adverse weather conditions, we have had to close our doors. But we are open so please come inside and shop.
Come again? (A) You’re allowed to have your doors closed. 99% of all stores I have walked into in my life have required me to push something, turn something or be noticed by a motion detector to enter. (B) QUIT IT WITH THE “ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS”.
The British are the least dramatic people on Earth except when it comes to weather, when they become the most hysterically dramatic. If you don’t believe me, read the Armageddon headlines from all the major papers after everyone had to put their scarves on. Why can’t we just emulate American weather reports and tell it like it is: snow. freezing temperatures. wintry conditions. Why this mysterious “adverse weather”?? Adverse weather can mean anything. Is the tube not running because there was a tsunami in East London? Did all those secretaries bail on work because of brush fires due to extreme heat in Stratford-upon-Avon? Did the busiest airport in Europe shut down because London was instantly hit by the largest tornado of all time?
Cold weather in one of the northernmost countries in the world does not constitute “adverse”. I’m pretty sure it instead constitutes something I like to call “The normal logical thing that is supposed to happen.”