Tuesday, March 11, 2008

montréal snow.

When I was little, my favorite movie was The Empire Strikes Back. It was also one of two movies I had seen by the age of 7, the other being The Black Hole.

What I liked most was the scenes on the ice planet Hoth. I really wanted my winters to be just like Hoth. I wanted to walk to school in trenches made of snow, constantly wondering if some storm troopers might be around the next snow bank. That would mean that mom and dad would certainly have to provide me with a lightsaber or at least a blaster.

So here I am in Montréal, enjoying as close as I'm likely to get my childhood dream. There are no storm troopers, but the sidewalk clearing snow machines provide a similar level of danger and excitement.

Apparently this winter has give the province of Québec nearly the all time record for snow fall. It always seems to mostly melt between storms, because climate change has still provided above freezing temperatures most weeks. Still, this is how winter in Canada is imagined by the rest of the world.

However the bitching and whining has not stopped since the snow first flew way back in October. According to my landlady, 'ten years ago this snow would have been cleared as soon as it hit the ground. Where are the trucks right now?'

The peoples are never satisfied.

Garbage collection in Montréal occurs twice a week, even in the winter (in Edmonton, it is once every two weeks in winter - try missing garbage day in January... ), yet that's not good enough. Education is the cheapest in the land, yet that still isn't cheap enough - apparently it ought to be free. French is all around and spoken even by the majority of anglophones that have moved here. Still not good enough. I don't know what the proposed solution to that might be... but it makes me very nervous. Montréal has a brilliant transit system that assures that most citizens don't even need to own a car and can still access nearly every part of the city, but I'm still the only person who smiles in the metro.

And now it's the snow.


Marcel Tremblay is the man that most city folk are directing their rage towards. He is in charge of clearing the snow for the city, and I hope he takes the summer off. Just to be clear, he didn't ask for budget breaking snow falls. He has promised that by tomorrow most of the snow will be off the roads and sidewalks. I'm not sure if he can manage it. There just aren't enough shovels. I'm nervous for him, and I already imagine an angry lynch-style mob marching to his house come Thursday morning. I wouldn't be surprised to see pitchforks and torches. Francophones love clichés.

I can't imagine how disheartening it must be to see all the snow melt anyway as the sun effortlessly erases all the money spent just to move snow from one spot to another. Truly a job with absolutely no hope of satisfaction... ever.

I guess if you own do own a car and decided to use it this week, it must be maddening. The above photo is a visual representation of Sartre's statement 'L'enfer, c'est les autres' (Hell is other people). That snow blower travels at about the speed of a geriatric with a walker. And due to notoriously bad parking habits complicated by giant snow banks, the actual lanes available for moving cars has shrunk, like a fat man's arteries, by at least half.

But you'll note, on closer inspection, that the pedestrians are moving past the traffic, walking free and easy. That's because sometimes legs are better than wheels. Even Luke Skywalker and Han Solo knew to use tauntauns when the going gets snowy.

2 comments:

french panic said...

I like snow, too. When the snow banks are so deep that you sink in with both legs up to your ass. The possibilities for snow forts!

I also enjoy the idiots who think that they are going to get their vehicles unstuck from the snow by gunning their engines until it makes that burning smell and the engine starts to scream with pain.

I want more snow.

wire monkey mama said...

Satre? Now, would he be related to that wall-eyed dude named Sartre? Just askin'.

Snow: *&(*(?(&%%?#$##@#%*(&*

Marcel Tremblay: I agree. Throw him a bone people. The drivers of these immense trucks are working day and night; everybody is exhausted and depressed; and there are still some people who do not have the courtesy to move their cars when the little orange signs go up. Just let them do their job and we'll get through this!
I think.
Having a car in this weather: Sucks. Sucks so bad, my significant other now walks with a permanent browbeaten shuffle and speaks barely above a whisper. He also has a tooth ache. I am worried for him.