Friday, December 28, 2007

In response to a comment to my grumblings about the possibility of snow in Seattle, the comment was made:
“I’m gonna have to make fun of you people on the west side of the state's inability to deal with an inch of snow...”

Be my guest.

I frequently do myself. Having grown up on a farm in Eastern Washington, I am very familiar with snow. Not a year went by when the water lines from out well froze up or we drug bales of hay behind us on our sleds out to the livestock. My fondest winter memories are those of my father and I plowing the long, winding mountain road that connected out farm to the rest of the world. I would man the road grater as it was pulled by our old, ww2 era tractor, its ancient headlights dimly illuminating the way ahead as we made way though the blinding white.

Yeah, I know snow.

I also know that being self employed means you don’t get things like paid time off or sick days. If I want to keep myself and my crew fed, I gotta be in the shop and filling orders. Sure, back when I worked for someone else I loved it when there was a threat of snow in the forecast. Even a dusting meant I could take the day off, mix up something warm to drink and watch as the morons in SUVs slid sideways down the hill in front of my house… news flash guys, a 4 wheel drive means nothing on ice.

These days I just cuss.

See, those same morons are also getting into three car piles ups on the bridges that separate me from my place of business, effectively shutting down access to my work for the rest of the day. Seattle traffic, already some of the worst in the US, comes to a grinding halt when it snows. Shipments don’t get delivered on time; orders can’t be sent out and must sit, forcing good customers to wait. If we can’t fill orders, we don’t get paid. Employees call in and inform me that the bus they would be taking in today just slid down a hill backwards in front of them and is overloaded with people who are not driving so they might be able to get into work, eventually. The work still must get done, so now yours truly (and whoever else manages to brave their way into the shop) have to shoulder the rest of the burden.

Top that off with the fact that the Abbey is a stone’s throw from the ocean, so when the temperature drops low enough for snow, the wind off the sea blows through this place like razor blades and no boss likes to watch his people shiver and suffer for a job. I may be a sadist, but I am not a monster.

So make fun of us all you like, but keep in mind there is more to this than just the stuff falling from the sky. Left to my own devices I love to stand outside and listen to it fall; the crushing lack of sound is otherworldly and strangely peaceful to me. However I have customers counting on me and employees banking on me to pay them.

Like the postman, I gotta be here no mater what the weatherman says.