— Theodore Roosevelt
26th U.S. President (1858-1919)
Weather is going to happen whether we like it or not.
And don’t try dodging snowflakes by claiming absurdities like “this is the South” and “these kinds of things don’t happen in Southeast Tennessee ... that’s why I moved here in the first place!”
But the truth is, it does rain in California, tornadoes do ravage downtown districts, it even freezes in Miami and it snows in Bradley County.
Don’t blame the meteorologists.
Take it easy on the news teams.
And stop the belly-aching.
Snow has graced our little bit of heaven twice already this winter — Christmas Day and Jan. 10. I haven’t talked to anybody who disliked the Yuletide blanket of white because it warmed hearts everywhere, stirred our imaginations and naturally sweetened those comforting cups of hot chocolate. Even the hundreds of snowmen guarding front yards everywhere danced a lighter jig.
Somewhere atop a cushy cloud in that vast skyward paradise, Bing Crosby probably crooned, “White Christmas ... I told you so.”
Of course, that lovely layer of frozen chill also falls on the entire community.
Not just the yards.
Nor the parked vehicles.
Nor the trees.
It coats our heavily traveled roadways as well.
And that’s today’s topic.
Anyone who grew miffed last week at the time required to clear off the Cleveland streets and Bradley County roads of the 8 inches or more of snow, and eventually compacted ice, that graced our community’s landscape on a cold Sunday night and brisk Monday morning should get a grip. Take a Valium. Try a little yoga. Even Pilates.
Here’s the merciless truth.
Weather does what weather does.
And we must deal with it to our individual liking.
Most have a choice. Get out in the snow or stay home. Others have no such choice. They are the front-liners — the road crews — who we entrust with our lives.
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis offered a fitting tribute earlier this week to these iron men of winter and so did Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland. Both recognized jobs well done by groups of government workers who don’t always get words of thanks but who seem to always catch the blame when circumstances don’t suit the populace.
To our mayors’ gracious words, I would add a few of my own.
Saying “thank you” sometimes seems inadequate, but the genuineness behind it is what counts most. In my life, I’ve never been big on the need to hear “thank you” personally, but I’m the first to admit it always sounds good. It comforts. It encourages. It helps us to better understand how we can make a difference in the lives of others.
And although I don’t have to hear it, I do make a practice of saying it — as often as possible. Especially when it has been earned.
Those government employees staffing the Cleveland Department of Public Works, specifically those on the street crew, and the Bradley County Road Department are due a huge thank you from any motorist who traveled a local roadway last week — city street, county road or something in-between.
Admittedly, unrelenting cold temperatures slowed the thawing process on many secondary routes, side streets and parking lots. That’s to be expected. Many folks were kept away from work because they couldn’t emerge from their driveways. That’s to be expected. Schools were closed because of these hazardous conditions. That’s to be expected.
But here’s something I didn’t expect. I don’t know which crew to thank — city, county or state — but somebody made my trek to the office that Monday morning possible.
We already had six inches of snow by 5 a.m. but here’s every newsman’s dilemma. News doesn’t stop — not for rain, wind or snow. So, at that awful hour I ventured into this frozen world of white. My tire ruts on Spring Place Road and the ramp heading onto APD 40 were among the first.
It wasn’t an easy go.
But it was a go nonetheless.
Thanks to road crews whose heavy plows had already made at least one pass. The snow was still deep, but navigable. My vehicle’s front-wheel drive helped. I made it to work safely, albeit quite slowly as did a few others, thanks in full to those early morning road crews. For all I know they probably worked all night.
I credit their toil for my ability to get here safely.
I recognize their diligence for our skeleton crew publishing a Monday newspaper.
Call them simply government road crews if you like.
But don’t take them for granted.
These guys are heroes.
And I’m glad they’re here.