Ham survives bin Nature's winter wrath

February 20, 2003|by TIM ROWLAND

Humph. Looks as if we were worried about Osama bin Laden when we should have been concerned with Mother bin Nature.

Sort of like the Almighty needed to give us a little reminder of who's really in charge here. We're all hot and bothered by Code Orange when we should have been concentrating on Code White. Duct tape THIS.

Actually, duct tape did play an important role for me this weekend, because if it hadn't been for the stuff I would have had a car full of snow.

Something called a "regulator" broke in my car, leaving the driver's-side power window stuck in the down position. I took it to a glass shop, where a real nice gentleman said he didn't have tools to fix it, but he did fasten the window securely in the upward position with about 1.6 miles of duct tape.


The only down side was that on Friday I'd forgotten about the temporary repair job. Because if I'd remembered, I would never have pulled into the drive-up window at the bank.

I stopped, and the woman opened the tray and I flipped the window switch and - nothing. The window stayed securely in place. The teller and I stared at each other through the glass for an awkward minute or two before I mouthed the words, "Nothing for me today, thanks" and fishtailed out of the lot.

But I already had everything I needed for a snowed-in weekend, that being: 1.) ESPN and 2.) a 12-pound Smithfield ham.

Or I thought I did, until we received a press release from the State Highway Administration urging us to stock up on, what else, extra batteries. Having been the second time in a week that a government entity had told me to buy batteries, I was beginning to think that most of our public officials in high places have stock in the Ray-O-Vac Corp.

Like the Citizens Homeland Security Corps, the SHA had a whole long list of things it believed I needed to weather difficult conditions, none of which I have, of course. I have no tow chain, no flares, no cat litter, no jumper cables, no cell phone. But I had two emergency items that I considered infinitely more important: ESPN and a 12-pound Smithfield ham.

But this was no ordinary storm and my survival plans began to go seriously awry when the full weekend sports schedule got canceled. This left me watching those goon city news programs where they help you understand the storm better with insightful interviews:

Reporter: "How is the snow affecting you?"

Resident: "Well, I was going to go to the mall. But now I'm not."

I switched over to the Weather Channel, which I like to watch in times like this, not so much for the forecast but to observe the hyperventilating broadcasters who realize that, for perhaps the first and only time in their careers, they are being watched.

Maybe one hurricane every five years and one snowstorm every 10 - those are about the only times that we remember that the Weather Channel exists. I mean, in the middle of June, how often do you say to yourself, "My, but I wonder what the dew point is going to be today; I think I'll tune in to the Weather Channel."

So I'm sitting there listening to the guy standing in front of the Capitol building in D.C., saying, "...And there's already about 10 inches on the ground and - whoa! I think it's just changed over to sleet. Yes you can hear the sleet hitting my jacket. Can you hear it?" (puts microphone on the hood of his LL Bean jacket) Can you hear it now?"

My eyes had taken on a sleet-like glaze when they broke in with the bulletin that Gov. Ehrlich had ordered every nonemergency vehicle off the roads, under pain of a $1,000 fine. I looked out the window at the white mound where my car used to be, and thought he might as well have threatened to fine me if I decided to go out and fly to Jupiter.

So I had plenty of reason to be depressed by the snow. But at least I still had my ham.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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