I didn’t want to believe it, but now I can confirm it’s true: Chicago winters are the worst.
As an expat Torontonian, I have lived through my share of blizzards, brushing heaps of snow off my car, slipping and falling on icy sidewalks, annoying street closures, and public transportation sitting at a standstill. But never have I had to dig my vehicle out of a pile of snow as massive as what Chicago saw this week.
I could’ve kicked myself as I walked out of my apartment building to the back parking lot at around 6 a.m. Tuesday. The night before I had wrestled with whether to head downstairs and begin clearing off the car.
“That will give me a head start on this storm,” I thought. Wrong! In hindsight, I looked at the condition of that parking lot Tuesday morning, with at least 15 inches of gorgeous, fluffy snow, and quickly realized there’s not a thing I could have done to prevent the monstrosity staring back at me. The neighborhood snow removal service hadn’t shown up to clear the lot or back alley — the only way our vehicles can access the main road.
6am in Chicago. What’s your morning looking like? 😤 pic.twitter.com/qayjStlQO0— S A S H A (@SashaAnnSimons) February 16, 2021
“For God’s sake!” I heard from nearby. It was the voice of a neighbor, whom I hadn’t met before, as she struggled to shovel and dig out her SUV parked across from mine.
“I’m about to give up. This is ridiculous!” she added. I laughed hysterically to keep from crying.
“Well, I have no choice but to give it a shot,” I eventually replied. And then, I did it. I now cringe at the thought. I said…
“After all, I work on the radio. You know, in the news business. So, I have to head into work.”
“Oh, cool. Well, I work at the hospital. I’m a doctor,” she snapped back, unimpressed with my so-called essential gig.
Boy, did I feel silly. Here she is … barred by heavy snowfall from carrying out her actual essential work, saving human lives. And I was there worried about hosting a talk radio show, a job which I adore and is important, but just doesn’t compare in this situation.
We then shared a nervous laugh, continued shoveling, and I knew I was back in her good books.
Another decision we made together — about five minutes later? To put the shovels down and use our frozen fingers to order rideshares to get to our respective jobs.
I moved to Chicago during the winter, in the middle of a global pandemic. And with the record cold temperatures over the past few weeks, my winter experience here so far hasn’t been ideal. But what I hear from virtually every local I meet is how much I will enjoy the spring and summer Chicago has to offer. “Summertime Chi,” they say, is short but sweet. It’s when I’ll truly be able to explore the city and try all the great food Chicago is known for. Plus, apparently, I live only 15 minutes from the beach. Amazing!
*loses focus dreaming of days basking in the sun*
Back to reality. I suppose there are several lessons one could gather from Snowmageddon 2021. But a lesson I’ll cherish is one of gratitude. The parking spot I had to dig out of was mine. All mine. When I do manage to get the car out and leave, the snowy spot will be waiting for me when I return. No dibs required! That’s got to count for something.