January 4, 2022
When The Hippos Danced on Glenwood Avenue 4.0
Earlier this week there was a HelluvaHumongousMess on I-95 between Richmond and Washington. 14″ of snow in a short time sent 18-wheelers slipping and sliding which sent SUVs et al into 8-10-15+ hour gridlock.
No reports of cannibalism YET but then again WHO would report it. Those cannibalized can’t and would YOU report yourself?
The plight of 10s of 1,000s immediately reminded one of BLSays Solid Platinum Oldies – The Day The Hippos Danced on Glenwood Avenue. From way back yonder in 2005.
This is the 4th Replay of this one … trailing only PDEWs on the All-Time list of 2,463 and counting. …. ENJOY!
Background: on January 19, 2005, Mother Nature slammed The Triangle Area with an unexpected ICE STORM beginning in mid-morning.
By mid-afternoon thru a combination of bureaucratic bungling and human nature at its most cannibalistic, said “Triangle Area” resembled Dresden after the bombing in Feb 1945.
The Day The Hippos Danced on Glenwood Avenue.
January 19, 2005…
… If you live in the Sunbelt you accept that certain stereotype clichés are NEVER going away. “Driving in snow” … “Mayberry references” … grits … etc. A classic Twilight Zone episode came alive in my Sunbelt community this week. There are lessons to be learned regardless of where you live.
If Rod Serling could have only lived another 20 years to see how utterly dependent our society has become to our incredible technology. Serling’s classic Twilight Zone episode The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street forsaw just the beginning of whether man or machines are really “in charge”. Backtracking a few days to this past Wednesday …
Do you know how to give a Chamber of Commerce executive nightmares? Let him read/hear headlines like these in the national media …City of Apalachacola Florida Disappears into Giant Sinkhole …. Bill Clinton to Build A Library In Little Rock ….. Raleigh NC Paralyzed by 1” Snowfall (Yes, 1”)
Yes, Raleigh, North Carolina … once honored as a Money Magazine Most Livable City … fell victim to a meteorological love tap from Mother Nature this past Wednesday. Your humble Internet Legend was at ground zero of this metropolitan calamity.
Watching my fellow Raleighites exhibit the dark side of that renown “Southern Hospitality”, I may have been the only one smiling.
For what other saw as mass confusion, I saw as column fodder “manna”.
I had spoken to the Monroe NC Rotary Club that morning and drove back home alongside the “itty bitty blizzard”. How bad was it? I had my wipers on intermittent so thoughts of The Donner Party were not paramount.
To be fair to local authorities what happened between 1 PM and 5 PM on January 19 in the thriving metropolis of Raleigh was actually the perfect storm.
The minimum amount of precipitation created the maximum amount of chaos. It had nothing to do with sweet tea or azaleas.
The local CBS affiliate’s weather guy is generally considered THE local weather guy although the local ABC affiliate’s weather “hottie” is hottier. THE weather guy consulted his dopplers and his Ouija Board after the fact and declared in his most erudite tone “sometimes sh*t just happens”. OK, he said “stuff” but 1,000,000 area residents knew what he meant.
NOTE: That “local weather guy” has since been “sent packing” when he was discovered “enjoying” hard-core porn in his weather guy office with the door apparently not fully closed … OH MY!
The one tomato can holding up the entire end aisle display was yanked out at 1:15… when the local school system brain thrust decided to close all the schools two hours early … at 1:30.
The immediate effect was Tsunami-like. 10s of 1,000s of frantic soccer moms piled into their giant SUVs and hurried off to pick up Little Susie and The Beav.
Imagine the Nazi Panza tanks barreling through the Woods of Bastogne in the Last Blitzkreig during the waning days of WWII. Moms On A Mission (in SUVs) hit the major thoroughfares at the precise moment that the 1” of precip turned into black ice.
Refer now to the title of this column … The Dancing Hippos.
Putting a steely-eyed “Junior Leaguer on-a-mission” behind the steering wheel of an armored personnel carrier does not grant her the skills of a Joey Chitwood driving instructor. It simply means her vehicle is now large enough to clear the curb on an out-of-control skid and wipe out every mailbox, lawn jockey, and birdbath within 50’. To be gender-fair … compu-geek guys are not exactly Dale Jarrett behind the wheels of their armored personnel carriers either.
Take 20,000 Moms On A Mission driving 20,000 Suburbans, Yukons, Expeditions, Hummers, and other assorted huge freakin’ vehicles and put them on “black ice”. Tell them their babies need them. Is that not the perfect recipe for disaster … not quite!
It’s 2005 … what are 10,000 Moms On A Mission GUARANTEED to do when sliding sideways down a traffic clogged artery in giant bumper cars? Get on their cellphones of course.
Modern day June Cleavers immediately try to call “Ward” to alert him that “The Beav” is probably a frozen popsicle standing outside the school wondering if Mom has deserted him. Since it was balmy at 7:30 AM, “The Beav” had left home that morning with no galoshes, no idiot mittens, and no “under armour”.
Churches are not built for Easter Sunday and cellphone systems are not built for 30,000 frantic Moms simultaneously calling hubbies to “stop everything you are doing and GO GET THE BEAV”.
Some hubbies managed to actually get through … which of course dumped 5.000 more cars onto the already iced-over gridlock mess.
Meanwhile Beav may not have had his galoshes and idiot mittens but he did have HIS CELLPHONE. So now we have bundled up Beavs standing under school overhangs panicking because the entire regional cellphone network melted down by 2:00 PM and Beav cannot reach June or Ward both of whom are stuck in terminal gridlock.
The Raleigh area is a high-tech mecca so our local compu-geeks figured out that their Blackberrys circumvent the cellphone systems. A 1,000,000 people sitting deadstill in a 1,000,000 stalled SUVs cussing into 1,000,000 useless cellphones … and the compu-geeks are e-mailing each other … “Yo, dude, this is really rad, Do ya think they will cancel the basketball game tonight?”
Everybody ends up with a story in one of these “where were you when …” crises. Our Kid bless her heart, tried to drive the family Volvo home … got 2 blocks from school, did a 180 trying to get up an incline, somehow (yes, there IS a God) got into a nearby parking lot, hyperventilated, tried to “call mom” on her useless cellphone, had the presence of mind to lock the car, walk 4 blocks to a local snack shop where she coerced the shop owner into free hot chocolate while she read The Great Gatsby. Resourcefulness is a family trait.
I was dispatched to GO GET OUR BABY! and joined the 1,000,000 stuck and mad as hell cellphone-less neighbors. With a F-150 SuperCrew I was not intimidated at all by the Dancing Hippos.
Two and a half hours later I walked into the snack shop. How glad was Kid to see me? She ran up and actually HUGGED ME IN PUBLIC! YIKES!!! Any parent of a teenager knows that public displays of parental affection is a worse sin than still carrying a Backstreet Boys backpack. When a crisis brings parental affection to public view … it’s A Cat-5 CRISIS.
By 4 PM many of the gridlocked Junes and Wards had become McGyvers’ and fashioned any number of obscene symbols from their dead cellphones and hung them from their rearview mirrors.
Go back to that earlier reference to “Southern Hospitality”. Southerners and “Yankees” have completely different profanity vocabularies. We have a large number of relocated Yankees in our community. You get native Southerners and transplanted Yankees all stuck in terminal gridlock with dead cellphones and you get an obscenity cloud that can be seen by the Mercury astronauts.
What does any normal person do when your cell call does not go thru? You keep banging on REDIAL and yelling obscenities at it, silly rabbit! LOTS of cellphone repair business to be had in Raleigh right now.
On Rod Serling’s Maple Street, the wily space invaders simply tweaked the electrical and mechanical devices and the frustrated earthlings quickly turned on each other in frustrated acts of technological cannibalism. Man’s inability to cope with disruptions to his daily routine is inherent in the species.
1,000s of Wards and Junes never did pick up their Beavs that afternoon. The stranded kids had great fun staying overnight in the schools. They made mystery meat sandwiches and midnight snacks from the mashed potatoes overdosed with saltpeter.
Sordid tales of how Mr Witherspoon The Vice Principal and Miss Cathcart, the provocative Home Ec teacher, huddled together “to preserve body heat” lingered for months in “locker chat”.
By the next morning local authorities played hot potato with “whose fault was it”. The City blamed The County blamed The State. The Governor just shut his door and played Solitaire on his laptop until Greg The Weather Guy melted the ice.
The local towing companies had a bonanza hauling off the 2,509+ stalled and abandoned vehicles. Abandoned when the drivers realized it being Wednesday it was 24 NIGHT. Leaving Beav stuck at school, the Wards and Junes trudged home like Napoleon’s army giving up on conquering Russia.
Within 48 hours all was once again well in our pristine world of Raleigh…. UNTIL the next time.
There is ALWAYS “a next time”.
I hope you have enjoyed Dancing Hippos 4.0 as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you a fourth time …
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