The oppressive rule of snow continues here in New England.
Like the T-virus, however, it has changed its form for no reason other than to advance the plot. Great puddles of water now often block me on my trudge to work in the mornings. This appears to be furthering the snow’s original plan of getting my feet wet, but without the precision that made that plan so elegant.
The puddles remain for my evening trudges, but their threat is reduced. If my feet are uncomfortably wet when I get home, I can just change my socks. (This is an advantage of having a home, which is something I recommend to anyone who has the means.) If I have wet feet when I arrive at work, I am screwed. Given my profession, I think I’d still be within the 50th percentile if I were to remove my socks to let them dry… But I still can’t make myself do it.
This is probably for the best.
I am in no way under the impression that the worst is behind us, though. Even the traditional exhortations of Punxsutawney Phil are not enough to convince me that warmer days are ahead. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
While I admit to a certain pessimism, I will simultaneously insist that this belief is born of experience. This is not my first rodeo. (Side note: Winter rodeo, excellent idea?) What joy I can derive from this season mostly comes from not having to shovel anything. Sidewalks, porches, driveways, none of them. And that is a perversely high amount of joy, frankly.
But I recognize that there are people who suffer more from this weather than I do. I see them every morning while trudging. Armed with shopping carts and party cups, Boston’s homeless line the sidewalks, quietly asking for spare change while scanning the gutter for discarded cigarette butts. Their constant presence and near-constant muttering remind me of gargoyles and grotesques from more fantastic cities, such as Ankh-Morpork. But these are real people with real problems who feel real cold after the sun sets.
It is an easy fact to forget as I rush past them.
Never was this more obvious than after the recent large snowstorm. In Boston, I infer that there is a limit to how strenuously the beggars are allowed to ply their trade. I have never definitely heard more than a blueshifted “Change, sir?” and a redshifted “Thank you, God bless.” (I have indefinitely heard mumblings that I cannot prove the content of.) Recently, however, I heard a truly ingenious way of circumventing these restrictions.
It’s important to set the scene before I begin. The curtain rises on the city of Boston, known far and wide as the Hub of the Universe. It has just suffered a blizzard, and the people needed all their Yankee ingenuity to band together and get through it without freezing or strangling each other. The piled snow has shut down many local facilities: schools, gyms, art galleries, and…
…the local soup kitchen.
Enter our players. Not knowing the actual names of these homeless men, I will give them fanciful sobriquets in order to reinforce my theatre metaphor.
On the left side of the street: Martimaeus F. Chesterfield, spurned heir to the Chesterfield fortune. His grief has manifested itself in a large yogurt stain on his “New England Patriots XXL” sweatshirt.
On the right side of the street: Carlton Somerville IV, descendant of the founder of the local city of Somerville. His shopping cart is filled with enough aluminum riches to keep him in rolled tobacco for a month.
All lines are to be delivered at shouting volume.
MFC: The soup kitchen’s closed!
MFC: I said, the soup kitchen’s closed!
CS4: What’s closed?
MFC: The soup kitchen!
CS4: What about it?
MFC: It’s closed!
CS4: We can’t get any food at the soup kitchen?
MFC: Yeah, because it’s closed!
CS4: The soup kitchen’s closed!
The lines repeat with speakers switched. The play ends when people give you enough money to buy a rolled breakfast taco from the 7-Eleven around the corner.
Aside from the previous disclaimer, this story is minimally embellished.