EDITORIAL: Don’t let strains of weather sour you

(Susan Barton for the Malheur Enterprise)

People are working twice as hard to get half as much done as winter throttles Malheur County. We collectively seem to be like a car stuck on ice – our engines are gunning but progress seems slow. As a result, a certain edginess is creeping into conversations and social media posts.

Consider the strains at work that collectively promote crankiness. Everything is behind schedule if it’s scheduled at all. People can’t get where they need to be, meaning other people aren’t getting what they expected, whether it’s groceries, an education, or government aid.

Schools this week will take a run at resuming normal. But it won’t happen quickly. Class assignments at in every school in the county face adjustment. Teachers are going to work double time to account for truncated lessons. Student activities, particularly sports events, get a new calendar that will no doubt unsettle already-made plans for some families.

Government agencies, from cities to counties to the state, have a lot of catch up as well. Government offices were closed, meaning work is backed up like a plugged storm drain. The state agencies charged with caring for the neediest among us wanted so dearly to keep helping that several moved to temporary quarters. Imagine the hassle of picking up and moving work that relies so heavily on forms and face-to-face contact.

Businesses closed for various reasons. Damage was one reason. Think Albertsons. Others operated on shorter hours, in part because their workers simply couldn’t make it in. Customers in some instances found it mighty challenging to reach businesses, with parking lots often a jumble of piled snow, concrete-hard wheel ruts, and pools of slush. Retailers that were open sometimes ran low on supplies most needed. Roof rakes and snow melt compounds seemed to be in short supply.

And then there was the snow removal. Public works crews battled the elements, fatigue and evaporating budgets. Entrepreneurs flooded social media with offers. Contractors turned labor crews and equipment into home rescue teams – sometimes at prices people found to border on gouging. And when opportunity knocked, locals formed enterprises to hire out for getting snow off roofs, driveways and walkways. They hustled, making a buck, and getting snow that otherwise would sit there, a threatening menace to home and business.

Getting from here to there was and remains no easy task. Side streets were treacherous, uncleaned or quickly cleaned, too narrow, and impaired more by vehicles left on streets and in the way of crews. On the roads and highways that were open, fog and ice proved to be highway trolls robbing us of our mobility. In some instances, motorists and even truckers pushed good sense and the law, going too fast for conditions.

Taken together, the conditions have tried the patience of every soul. And when people get impatient, they utter comments or take actions they ordinarily wouldn’t. Yelling at a clerk because snow rakes are sold out is just boorish. We have a long way to return to normal in Malheur County, but we will get there. Let’s be patient, work together, and think twice before lashing out in frustration at circumstances no one invited. – LZ