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Well, January's wrapped up and already we New Englanders are sick of the snow. We ask ourselves why we live here; why don't we just go further south, but we stay. I chalk it up to the fact that I love going on vacation to Florida or the Caribbean, so living here in the tundra only increases the anticipation and makes me appreciate the vacation all that much more. I guess I need something to look forward to.

New Englanders have been panicky about blizzards since February 1978 when we were supposed to get a little snow, and instead, got a two-day blizzard. I had just passed my driver's test two days before, so I was sure this whole blizzard thing was one big conspiracy to keep me off the road. No one in the neighborhood had a snow blower, so everyone made his or her kids go out and shovel. We didn't have school for weeks and the governor wouldn't let anyone drive, and after a time, things got a little desperate.

  
 
My friend and I set out one day to walk to the grocery store, clutching lists given to us by our mothers. On the way home, while approaching my friend's house, I slid on the snow and ice and ended up face-first in the street. My bag of groceries spilled and I remember seeing a package of pork chops and a box of Trix cereal spinning wildly up the icy street ahead of me. My friend laughed so hard she had no strength to help me get up. I gathered the Trix cereal (my little sister wouldn't eat anything else at the time), the pork chops and what little dignity I had left and continued on home to bring my mother her groceries.

Last year I remember clearly on December 1, we got a blizzard. There I was out in the middle of it, driving down Interstate 93 from New Hampshire to Boston on my way to work, minding my own business and then it happened. I felt the back tire get caught up in the snow, and the next thing I knew, I was spinning. During the second 360, I noticed the proximity of the guardrail, and I thought to myself just before I hit it, "I wonder if this is going to hurt?" Fortunately (I guess), there was a small snow bank in front of the guardrail, which took the brunt of the impact when my Explorer hit. I ended up facing the oncoming traffic, wondering how I was going to get out of this mess. The other drivers just kept whizzing by me; nobody cared. Then a nice man with a tow truck (what a coincidence!) pulled over, jumped out, ran over to me, and asked if I was okay. By this time, I was out of the car looking at the big dent in the left quarter panel. But the car was still running and nothing was on fire, so I assumed it was all right. The tow truck driver blocked the right lane of the highway with his truck, so I could turn around and get back on my way, which I thought was nice since he wasn't going to make any money off of me that day. I thought about going home, but I was just outside of Boston, and I figured it was safer to continue on than to go back home. I got to work without further incident, grateful that the cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee in the cup holder didn't spill. That would have been a disaster.

As the day passed, the nasty blizzard roared on, and it became very clear that I wasn't going home that night. Luckily, I had my ESPN-Walt Disney World overnight bag with me (we New Englanders know how to prepare) and the firm was kind enough to put a co-worker and me up in a hotel for the night (read: make sure someone shows up for work the next day), which I thought was better than sleeping in the ladies' room. I left work around 10:30 that night and, after retrieving my ESPN-Walt Disney World overnight bag from my car, which was parked in the garage under the building, I set out alone through the front door of the building into the blizzard with the intention of walking a few blocks to the hotel.

Silly me.

The wind was blowing and the snow was drifting, and I found myself walking into the wind. After a short time, this triggered my asthma, which I had all but forgotten about since it hadn't bothered me for a long time. Onward I struggled, gasping for breath. I ducked into the alley between the hotel and the office building beside it, hoping I could get into the hotel through an entrance there. But alas, it was not to be. There was no entrance there; only a big glass window and I just couldn't go on. I dumped my ESPN-Walt Disney World overnight bag and knelt down in the snow, digging through my pocketbook and tossing the contents left and right looking for my inhaler. It was becoming very difficult to breathe, and I seriously contemplated a call to 911, but I couldn't find my cell phone, and I figured by the time the ambulance got through the snowdrifts in the street, I'd be passed out in the alley, mistaken for a snow bank and left to freeze. There was a pylon in the alley, and I found myself hanging over it, the contents of my purse strewn about and my ESPN-Walt Disney World overnight bag cast carelessly aside, trying to catch my breath. Through the big glass window, I noticed people strolling through the hotel's lobby. They were gawking out the window at me and my belongings. No doubt thinking I was a transient of some sort, not worthy of assistance. No doubt these are the same people who whizzed by me on Interstate 93 whilst I was careening into the guardrail.

Finally, I located the inhaler. I calmed myself down and my breathing eased. I set out to continue one more block around the corner to the hotel entrance. Of course, by the time I got to the hotel entrance, I was wheezing heavily again. The doorman was shoveling. He stopped long enough to look at me and my ESPN-Walt Disney World overnight bag and then went back to shoveling. I had to open the door myself. I was met in the lobby by a man in a snorkel parka, hood zipped up, who merrily clapped his mittened hands and said to me in a sing-song voice, "You're just coming in and we're going out!" What? Who is this guy? I told him in ragged breaths to perform an anatomically impossible act on himself, as I leaned against the wall and slowly slid to the floor, still clutching my inhaler. "Oh, dear," the man said and shuffled away in his parka. Damn tourists. After a couple more hits on the inhaler, I was better and was able to check into my room. The firm, of course, was grateful and sent along a $25 American Express gift check to those who showed up to work. Unfortunately, it didn't cover the deductible for the damage to my car.

We just had another blizzard the Blizzard of 2005 they're calling it. That was exciting. Fortunately, nothing happened to me during this blizzard. But this year, I was smart. I stayed home. There's only so much a person can take.

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