Snowstorm Etiquette

Weather is wacky and it makes people crazy worrying about it. Cue the weatherman with his Doppler radar and terrifying statistics! But there's no need to panic. Check out Modern Manners Guy's tips on surviving a snowstorm with your manners (and a sense of perspective) intact.

Richie Frieman,
January 13, 2014
Episode #279

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Tip #2: Love Thy Neighbor

I live in a wonderful neighborhood, filled with kind people on every turn. Well, except for the mean spirited people on the HOA board. Ugh, don’t get me started.  In fact, a local weatherman actually lives in my neighborhood. Does that make me feel more protected? Not-at-all. In fact, when the weather is bad, he’s never here anyway, since he’s at the station reporting. I think it's also where he hides out when he gets the weather wrong.

I’m not trying to pick on him. In fact, he’s actually a super cool guy, even though we’ve never met. And that’s the beauty of caring about people in your neighborhood; even if you’re strangers, you are still united under the common concern for the community. With that, comes the responsibility of looking out for people around you. Being a neighbor is like playing a team sport: everyone has to pitch in for the win.

For example, on my street there is an elderly woman who isn’t exactly capable of shoveling the snow off her walkway.  For me, it takes minimal effort to hop over to her house and run a shovel through her walkway. Why not, right? That’s what neighbors do. Also, a few years ago when we got hit with a bad storm, my one neighbor and I helped shovel each others' cars. We didn’t care how long it took, we did it because we both needed a hand that day. And since then, we have this unwritten code where if one of us is starting to clean the cars off, the other hops in to help.

I’m not saying you have to be a superhero and spend your day walking house to house with a shovel – you have a life too. But if you live among neighbors, you can't just stick your head in the sand and show zero compassion for others. When it comes to handling a snowstorm – that can be easily go from mild to devastating in a matter of hours – it’s always mannerly to lend a hand without a second thought. After all, you never know when you may be that elderly person who wished they were nicer to those around you.

Tip #3: Keep Calm and Deal With It

Let me say, I’m not diminishing the effects of snowstorms. In fact, this past December a large tree in my backyard split in half because of the snow. It nearly crashed through my kids’ playground. Scary!

And two years ago, a gigantic icicle fell from my roof and smashed the front of my car. It was so heavy and sharp that had I parked a few feet further in my driveway, it would have gone right through my windshield. As well, a few weeks ago, I was stuck in my car driving 10 miles an hour for nearly two hours in a bad storm, just praying I’d make it home safely. Luckily I did, and I wish it never happens again.

My point is that I’m not a daredevil who goes out running in a snowstorm to test my limits. I respect the power of nature and I realize that when it wants to wallop us, we'd better stay in and pipe down.

However, does a snowstorm immediately signal the apocalypse? I'm pretty sure that's only in the movies. So when it snows, I simply deal with it. Do I have a gigantic Hummer SUV than can roll through a brick wall and easily handle a foot of snow? No, I do not.  Do I live in Norway where it snows several feet a season? No way! But should I let the snowfall totally wrack my nerves and make me panic like the sky is falling? You’re right, I shouldn’t.

Here’s the deal, when it snows, don’t make any plans. Don’t run out and risk your life. Don’t try and hit up a movie because you’re bored. Instead, accept what is going on outside, listen to the news, and don’t overreact.

But this level of zen-like calmness is different for everyone. If you can handle a foot of snow – more power to you. However, if the “threat” of a light dusting makes you want to run for cover, than plan on hunkering down for the day. The problem with people and snowstorms is they let the worst-case scenarios get the best of them, which can have a snowball effect on those around them.

Yes, the pun is intended!

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips for a more polite life.

Do you have any recent graduates in your circle, or perhaps someone who is looking to start a new career, check out my new book, Reply All…And Other Ways to Tank Your Career for great tips and advice on job success. It's available now!

Man with snow blower and man in snowstorm images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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