There’s something in the air… is the dry static? Whenever it snows, it feels like an insurmountable amount of friction is building. Building, and building. Thundercrack, flash and boom – one bolt of lightning across the sky to release the friction and brings down the snowstorm, the blizzard.
I don’t do well with restricted mobility. I love the way snow turns an entire city into a new place, a fantasy-like land. My imagination does well in it. But the restrictions on mobility quickly set me into a depression. If the snow sticks for days, it triggers this heavily. I can recall the experiences that created such a pointless trigger.
When I was younger, I used to deliver papers. When the snow came down, I still delivered the papers. With no access to a vehicle like my older siblings when they delivered papers, I strapped the bungie cords around the tall red dolly to the short black stand-up cart with two wheels. The cart was something a grandma might use, like the ones in the senior’s complex I delivered to. Its two wheels removed, strapped to the dolly gave it stability and carrying capacity. However, there’s no winter tires for dollies.
Pulling this metal creature across deep snow… the treads immediately catch up powder and swirl it around until it can’t be pulled any further. Then, when I try to kick it off and start again, the lack of momentum has me jammed in the snow. Unlike today, where I took the day off, or the three days prior that I’ve stayed homebound, I had no choice but to stay out in the snow. What took an hour and a half thus took three? Sort of like the transit I make every day.
I survive both in the same manner. With music, headphones blasting out any chances for dialogue. At least, until the stimulation of music has me needing a break. Snow is silencing. Transit is deafening. Both, extremes, and both make me want to scream.
The energy of pulling the cart filled with hundreds of papers, walking around in snow that won’t let up, cold and wet, I want to collapse. I used to help my older siblings after we lost the van, and when I was 8, I literally did collapse. I was brought home by my dad and my sister was furious that she was never taken seriously when similar happened to her and she had to continue delivering.
I didn’t have that luxury back then. Three times a week, when there’s two weeks of snow was arduous and pretty much torture. Kids or adolescents shouldn’t be put through all of that. Even the emotional rigour had me coming back home and screaming at my parents about quitting. I didn’t know that I could pick the phone up and do it myself, I just obeyed when they told me I could not quit. I don’t know why I never did use my free will in these situations.
Today, I know there’s snow, and the first week is fine. I’m excited that there’s snow and that I don’t have to deliver papers in it, anymore. But when transit goes from an hour and a half between Vancouver and Surrey to a whole three hours – I might not be delivering papers anymore, but I’m cold, and as helpless as when I pulled that cart. Except, I can’t even try to kick the snow off my tires. I just stand at the bus stop, waiting forty minutes for a bus that should have came thirty-two minutes prior. I sit on the packed tin can, a car strapped to a crate by welding that shakes like it was done with bungie cords.
When I delivered papers, I was the only one there. Now? The packed tin can is superfluous. I look up and around at the gross grey walls, sticky, wet, and muddy floors, dirty blue seats, and them. So many of them, all just as disgruntled as I am, not even attempting to hold it in. Especially in Surrey, which is a good thing. Living in Vancouver is teaching me that holding it in just makes it worse.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” a weathered man in the back calls every time we get stuck for a second.
“Holy fuck, move!” from a cranky old bat with a let-me-speak-to-your-manager haircut.
An automated voice chimes, “Please move to the rear, of the bus,” with a break between rear and of. This doesn’t end for ten minutes; the driver must have mashed it too many times. This at least gives the old bat and weathered man a moment of humour.
Then, the driver cannot just kick the snow from his tires, either. So, what would be a twenty-minute ride becomes thirty, sometimes forty. Forty becomes over an hour, and quickly, my commute doubles. I don’t have a window seat, bus is too packed for me to get one. I’m between a seat on my left and three people on my other three directions. When I go to look out a window, either it’s foggy, slick with snow or there’s tired faces in the way. I don’t get to see the lovely scenery when you look south on Marine Drive, Vancouver, headed East or West. The aesthetic of a changed city with white all around is as inaccessible as the transit.
Then, I get home. Generally, roads have been cleared to an extent but I sure would hate to pull that dolly around the roads by my house. No one cares about low-rise apartments so no one clears our roads. Just giant piles of slush, shoveled snow becoming ice, and salt, dumbly poured over ice, slush and snow on the sidewalks outside my apartment. The dog park, which is a little triangle, each side a block long, was this flat white desert the first day. Now, the dirt and hundreds of feet have gotten to it.
If only I delivered papers here, I could bring thirty at a time with me into these low-rise apartments. That would have made things a lot easier. Some days, I miss the simplicity of it. Not on snow days, though. On snow days, I just wish I had taken the time with the nicer weather so I wasn’t cancelling my whole schedule because I don’t want to deliver papers at 23 years old. I will remove this trigger, when I stop avoiding it. Such a soft trigger…
Between the hours of commute and trudging relentlessly down the snowy sidewalk, the friction builds again. No visible streak of lightning, no crash or boom, but trust me, I felt that shock. It must be time for the storm’s second phase. A delayed reaction, and when I’m home and safe, I finally crash. Boom.