Friday, February 1, 2008

Laughing stock of Canada

It snowed here this week. Not the little one-day sprinkles that have been a recurring theme of this winter, but a good few inches.

This being Vancouver, a few inches were enough to bring the city to a halt. The weather as first item on the news and all that; the rest of Canada is no doubt laughing (politely) at us.

I get grumpy when I can't cycle and have to take the bus, especially as it takes much longer and requires me to deal with idiots (i.e. everybody else - I really don't handle our ridiculously overcrowded system very well. This antipathy doubles on snow days, when lots of people who usually drive decide to switch to the bus for the day. I haven't had a full-blown panic attack for a few years, but I can often feel one coming on when I'm jammed into someone's armpit, the bus is lurching to a halt twice on each block (once for the bus stop and once for the inevitably red light), yet more people are getting on, and there's a rugby scrum between me and the exit. Must. Remember. To Breathe. Deeply. On those days I tend to arrive at work in a foul mood that requires at least one cup of tea and a trauma cookie1 before I'm back to my usual chipper self. Thank goodness for this week's discovery that a colleague lives close to me and can give me a ride on snow days).

Anyway. I digress. I was going to mention a sight that made me smile on the first day of snow on Tuesday. It united, in an eruption of laughing and pointing, the ever-growing crowd of disgruntled commuters / popsicles waiting at the connecting bus stop while several buses passed us by like creaking, groaning, lurching sardine tins on wheels.

We were first alerted by the strange noise. This was eventually localised to a car approaching on Broadway, a major 4-lane city street that was by this time covered in nothing worse than about an inch of very wet slush. The car had chains (yes, snow chains. On Broadway.) on its rear tires and was being driven extreeeeeemely carefully.

As the car approached the bus stop, it was passed by a cyclist2 like it was standing still.

I bet you don't see that every day in Winnipeg.

1term coined by a German friend from my old job who suggested that we all recover from the trauma of our flu shots by going for a cookie. The phrase is now applied to all cookies eaten after an unpleasant experience.

2daft bugger. No matter how much I hate the bus, you won't catch me cycling in snow and slush with the drivers we have around here.

p.s. medical mishaps and the effects of diet on gene expression on my Nature Network blog this week.


  1. Well, I was in London to experience "London Snow Choas" (as the headlines had it, though everything is "chaos" there it seems)... 'twas less than an inch.

  2. The car ... passed ... by ... a bike (sorry, trying to control my breathing). LOL!

    (oh, and I am so stealing the "trauma cookie" term!)

  3. Yeah, I shouldn't really complain because the UK is terrible when it comes to coping with snow. Parts of Scotland are better than most I suppose.

    Trauma cookie is a very useful term that I use at least once a week. I'm glad I can facilitate its spread!

  4. ah, I would have been that daft's all about fat tires.

  5. This looked like your average road, or maybe hybrid, commuter bike. Also, there are some truly atrocious drivers here. The inability to react quickly enough to dangerous driving maneuvers would scare me far more than the risk of the tyres slipping and sliding.

  6. Call in the Army, that's what I'd do. Clears up the snow lickety-split.


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