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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Continuation of the Snowplow Saga

Well, it appears that I really don't know how to handle tone when writing here, because folks seemed to think I was more pissed off than I actually was when I started writing about snowplows last time.  Believe me, walking through downtown I was frustrated, but by the time I was back in the apartment, I decided to channel that frustration into something that, I hoped, would be almost comical in its extremism.  Clearly I should never be a comedy writer.

That being said, it inspired an exchange between Anna Koivusalo, my lovely Finnish renter in SC, and me about snow, snow culture, and lack of snowplows that I thought you guys might be interested in.  So, here with Anna's permission, are our emails!

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From: Anna Koivusalo 
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2012 07:20:17 -0500To: Kathryn Edwards
Subject: Re: Travels with the Dude

Ha ha -- your Finnish collagues got it right. Reading your blog, I didn't understand why you were so mad, because the situation seemed completely normal to me. It is just the way it is. People may not 
like it, but they accept it.

If the city wanted to get the sidewalks clear, someone would have to do it by hand since snowplows are too big for that purpose. Do you know how expensive it would be to pay someone to shovel the snow by hand, especially early in the morning? (I am constantly amazed here in SC how there always seem to be at least three times more people doing the same job than in Finland.)

Last year, when we had the snow record, they didn't plow streets at all in the suburbs where I live (they plowed our street TWICE during the whole winter!) Cars just struggled through the piles of snow and there was snow two feet deep on the sidewalks. Compared to that, Töölö and downtown had it much better; at least someone cleared the streets and sidewalks there, if not sanded them..

And Finns don't sue since our legal system really does not support that kind of lawsuits (you don't get compensation other than perhaps the cleaning expenses of your pants or something like that -- too 
much trouble) and because this is, after all, normal..

You just deal with it -- with sisu ;)

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"EDWARDS, KATHRYN" 
kirjoitti 20.1.2012 kello 8.05:
Hi Anna,

That's pretty funny.  Talk about completely different approaches to the situation.  If you ever get snow in SC, you'll see that the world shuts down before and for several days afterwards because  businesses, government agencies, and other folks are so worried about the ramifications if someone's hurt  The interesting part, though, is in areas of the states where they get snow like you do here, they have the wild cleaning and plowing crews and people do shovel and sand their sidewalks.  (It's one of the reasons snow blowers are so popular.)  Employees at shops are expected to do it, or if they've got a good boss, s/he hires someone to do it. Teenagers make a lot of money in winter shoveling snow!

With that in mind, would you mind if I posted your reply to the blog?  My friends at home would get a hoot out of the differences.

Take care,

Kay

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From: Anna Koivusalo 
Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2012 08:23:55 -0500To: "EDWARDS, KATHRYN" 
Subject: Re: Travels with the Dude
Hi Kay,

Sure, use my reply if you like -- I can understand why it would be funny (now, having spent time in SC).

I guess that as Finns have spent all their life dealing with snow, it just isn't a big deal for anyone. And, remember, we are also accustomed to walk in/on the snow. (Snow, in fact, is not slippery at all so you don't have to sand it; only ice is. That is the second reason (the expenses being the first) for why they haven't sanded so much as you'd expect. And the third reason is that if you sand every day, you'll also have to clean the sand afterwards -- you'll see what it's like in spring with air filled with dust particles.) So it's not about carelessness or lack of "snow-how" (as we say), it's just the realities of winter.

Be careful and take only small steps with putting your whole sole down!

Anna

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"EDWARDS, KATHRYN"
Sent: Friday, January 20, 2012

Ah, but, Anna, it's packed and icy within 2 days. :-)  Actually in all seriousness the main time I mind it is on sidewalks in major streets and in areas where you only have a really narrow area to walk, like the tram platforms.  I get that just dumping sand into fresh snow is ridiculous; it's the hard, packed snow in downtown that has me stunned--and, especially, that ice dam that has built up right outside the Kasienemi (sp?) metro exit.  OMG, it's already bad enough that I think I'm going to walk across the street to avoid it.

All this reminds me that I must trim Ted's paws this weekend.  The hair's gotten long enough again that he's starting to get snowballs between his toes.  That's got to be unpleasant.

Take care,

Kay


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Sent: Friday, January 20, 2012

I know. Actually, precisely because they do plow in downtown and have the heaters under the streets, the snow keeps melting and re-icing, making it packed and slippery. It's not slippery in the suburbs - but there you have to plunge into deep snow with every footstep. Don't know which is better.. Personally, I hate black ice, because you can't avoid it if you can't see it.

Here it's spring again - the birds are singing, the flowers are starting to make buds, and squirrels are building a new nest in the tree behind the kitchen window. It's just so odd in January!


Anna


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