Because… That’s Just What We Do Now
In a shock seasonal weather event that has Canadians reeling with the absolute expectedness of it all, Toronto, the largest city in a country famous for hardly anything apart from its cold winters with masses of snow, ground to a total, shocked halt on January 17th, 2022 — a day that will surely live on in the infamous annals of what you’re just supposed to deal with in the winter, in Canada, since, like, forever.
The gob-smacking, not even really very big, standard, totally-to-be-anticipated blizzard that we all were warned about in advance caught everyone — from city snow plow driver to Uber driver to taxi driver to bus driver, in short, vehicle drivers, who are those worst affected by snowbound roads so you’d think they’d prepare for that, but, no — by complete surprise.
Sidhur “Sunny” Sikhu, a Pakistani physician who left a thriving medical practice back home to emigrate to Brampton and be a cabbie, had set out nice and early that morning, planning to head into Toronto via the 401 to pick up an airport fare. He didn’t give a second thought to the terrifying, grey-black clouds, howling winds and churning vortices of snow engulfing his car and reducing visibility to zero when, all of a sudden, he turned onto the highway and — kaboom! Snowmaggedon, eh?
I’d found all this out because I’d been wandering around the collector lanes in just my pajama bottoms in the total whiteout ever since I took out the garbage bins before breakfast and like, whoa! random! lost my bearings in the swirling, sub-zero ballet of ice crystals that occurs every year just about this time, and finally just banged on Sunny’s passenger-side window and hopped in.
“Yeah, like the Weather Network has been saying for three weeks that there was gonna be a cold snap with blizzards, starting today, but I thought, like, come on, dudes!” he complained as he poured a steaming cup of masala chai from the Thermos in his tiffin bag.
Sunny estimated that, what with the crazy, out of nowhere blizzard, by the time I’d jumped into the passenger seat, he’d now been sitting there in exactly that same spot for probably ninety-six hours with no end in sight.
His diatribe picked up steam as he lamented the perpetual vendetta against drivers, who, as probably the most important people in the world, just want a little respect and, maybe, High Park turned into a car condo with 24-hour Petro-Canada pumps and a concierge. Honestly, I felt for the guy.
“Why would they have snow on a Monday, like, the traditional start of the work week?” he wailed. “It’s insanity! I dunno who’s in charge of all this, but what with bike lanes, and no talking on the phone, and seatbelts, and toll roads, and Trudeau-flation gas prices, and Hindu nationalism and carbon offsets, and now this? It’s like a war on cars, man. I mean, inshallah and everything, but seriously.”
I was nodding in sympathy as I listened and was just about to ask if there was anything ordinary people could do, like killing ourselves, to make driving cars easier, when suddenly I caught sight of some highway salters in their cheerful blue and white uniforms.
Thank god that Doug Ford’s conservatives, realizing that hordes of unvaccinated pre-teens who’d been permanently removed from school were sitting around doing nothing, had conscripted them as interns at large. And now here they were — deployed tossing handfuls of Sifto Table Salt onto the icy tarmac of Ontario’s vast network of highways.
Canadian grit and ingenuity at its finest! One or two of the tiny tots managed to wave back at me before a quick smack upside the head from the overseer urged them back to their grim, socially responsible, and in the end, to quote the Premier: “…far more practical than a lot of old codswallop from books that you never use anyway!” task.
Bidding Sunny a hasty farewell, I scrambled out of the car and staggered blindly in my bare feet and jammies a little further along the eastbound lanes, where I suddenly noticed a number of young women in an open convertible wearing cut-off shorts, sandals and bikini tops. Sure enough, more victims of the total fluke, unanticipated January snowstorm.
“Yeah, so, the Weather guy literally has one thing to do, and that’s deliver weather, right?” shouted the driver of the stationary vehicle, trying to be heard over the gale-force winds and identifying herself only as as Candy.
“And we’d already decided to have a beach volleyball Omicron party, but now it’s like minus four degrees hellllooooooo?”
The other girls, looking blue and goosey, were very much occupied with scooping handfuls of snow off the leather upholstery and tossing them outside of the vehicle — an exercise that was looking more futile by the second.
Our intrepid bikini babe continued, “One-star Yelp review for incompetent Weather guy, excuse me? But, like, no way some random Boomer is gonna to ruin this party, it’s bound to warm up by noon! Seriously? Suzie-boo, hand me the tanning oil!”
We needed answers, and fast. I hopped into the back seat and called up the CBC website on my smartphone.
What a relief, and not a moment too soon, to see Justin finally addressing distraught Canadians about the onslaught of mysterious January winter weather that’s been a fact of life since the Pleistocene epoch.
Trudeau did not mince words.
“Please, everyone, stay inside coughing on each other during the surprise blizzard, until we can definitely ascertain that someone was supposed to remind us, but they obviously got busy with something, then didn’t, and now look what’s happened!” our PM explained in the familiar, soothing tone he always uses to assure us that, no matter how challenging the situation, he’s got our backs unless something more interesting comes up.
“Now, I’m not ruling out intervening or even throwing some money at it at some point,” he continued, “and once you’ve figured out that you’re on your own with this one I’ll definitely think about seeing what I can do! Like the man said, just watch me, right? So —à bientôt and don’t forget to — ”
Suddenly a huge snowball hit the PM in the mouth, leaving him gagging for air, on his back, in a drift, and after waiting a couple of minutes to make sure he was finished, everyone just kind of wandered off.
Being taken unawares by the known and glaringly obvious had become a worldwide phenomenon. Consider what was happening in the US with 5G deployment.
Seems that major airlines and telecom companies were both completely caught off guard when, even though 5G spectrum cellular service has been rolling out worldwide literally for years, they only just now remembered that this frequency has the potential to mess with vital aerospace safety equipment, like altimeters, that ensure planes don’t crash.
Of course, the slow-motion reveal of this information right in front of our eyes meant that telecoms like Sprint and Verizon had to hastily put exclusion zones in place all around airports.
Which probably won’t be good enough to stop all the interference, but what the heck, it’s an emergency, and what can you expect when the telecoms and airlines only had, like, forty-eight months to think about it as they stared out the window waiting for their statutory lunch break?
I spoke to the head of the FCC, or, actually, since no one ever picks up when I call there, just any old random customer stranded at Canadian Tire.
“The important thing,” said Wendy, our random customer, sounding a little harassed, “is that smartphone users get ten times faster service so they’ll be able to share pictures of that muffin they got for breakfast instantly.” She paused for a moment to throw junior league hockey sticks and knee pads into a giant bag.
“…Or the sunset they snapped from their bathroom window, or maybe disseminate misinformation about Covid… or complain about Joe Biden… and generally never stop bitching that their smartphones suck, except — oh, awesome! Medium rough sandpaper is two-fer-one!”
Wendy was on a roll. “Customers have suffered too long,” she continued, “from waiting more than a nanosecond to receive those out of focus shots of, for example, my ass, when they hit reply all, so this is a welcome development, even considering the 5G/aircraft safety snafu kind of hit them out of left field, eh?”
She continued to cram handfuls of caramel latte coffee pods and a couple of collapsible bicycle pumps into her puffer coat pockets.
But what about the safety issues? Could the public be confident about the deployment, seeing as everyone was asleep at the wheel about such a basic fact?
“Honestly, I’m no probability whiz kid! But basically, we get a faster smartphone, and as a trade-off, maybe a hundred people are gonna die taking off from La Guardia, but, statistically speaking, you can’t really know if that includes you.”
Suddenly everything fell into place. “Let me see if I’ve got this straight,” I said, while Wendy tried to shove a nine-in-one multifunction cooker under her waistband.
“In layman’s terms, a completely preventable hiccup such as a couple of short-haul flights colliding just before landing is probably going to happen, but there’s no guarantees. On the upside, thanks to 5G, we’ll get that video of a cat vomiting up a hairball on TikTok without any latency.”
Wendy nodded and gave me the thumbs up.
“You got it,” she said. “And you know what?
“Totally worth the risk.”