COLUMN: Putting the boots to preparedness

No matter how prepared you think you are, snowy weather always presents a few unexpected challenges.

Perhaps it’s the Boy Scout in me – “Be Prepared” is the group’s long-running motto – or maybe I’m just responsible to a fault, but whatever the reason, there’s not a lot thrown my way that I’m not ready for.

If there’s a big storm in the forecast, I’m the first to dig out the candles and flashlights, just in case.

If I’m going on a trip, the chances are good that I’ve got everything ready to go days in advance – from passports to appropriate clothes to an itinerary. Sure, the actual packing of the suitcase might not happen until the night before, but at least I know what I’m putting in there.

And so it was that I was well-prepared for the snow to hit us last week. With plenty of warning that snow was on the horizon – with predictions ranging from something resembling a light frost to Snowmaggedon 2016 – I dug around in my hall closet until I could find the box of winter supplies for my wife and I.

Considering our usually mild weather, and the fact that we hadn’t had any snow since 2014, the search effort took much longer than I’d expected, but eventually – after digging through hockey skates, old shoes, and parts of electronic devices now rendered obsolete – I found the cache of gloves, tuques and scarves.

I then ventured into the backyard to find the snow shovel, which had gone unused for two years and had fallen behind some shrubs.

I set it by the back door and we were ready.

Bring on the snow.

By the next morning, it had arrived, and though it was far closer to the aforementioned light frost – barely enough to throw a decent snowball – the deck and driveway still required shovelling.

So I bundled up in the winter woolies I’d prepared the night before, grabbed the shovel I’d found ahead of time, and off I went into the yard.

And then snap – the shovel broke. Right in half.

Turns out they get a little brittle when they sit outside for 1,000 or so days.

No matter, I figured. The snow wasn’t much and, in typical Lower Mainland fashion, would probably be gone by noon.

And while I was correct – the snow didn’t get worse that day – about 24 hours later we were welcomed with another dumping of the white stuff.

So, putting my truck into four-wheel drive to get out of my unshovelled back alley, off I went on a journey to buy a new snow scoop. It was a fruitless quest.

They were sold out everywhere.

And while not being able to buy a shovel was bad enough, what made it worse was that I knew what the store associates were thinking every time I asked if they had any left in stock.

You should’ve been better prepared.

Not wanting to be lumped in with all these fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants winter warriors, I actually made a point of telling anyone who’d listen – store employees, nearby shoppers, whoever – that I did, in fact, have a shovel (“I was prepared dammit!”) – but it broke.

It didn’t matter of course. I left each store empty-handed, no better than anyone else frantically buying anti-freeze, road salt and vehicle ice-scrapers.

The Boy Scouts would be so unimpressed.

Returning home defeated, I ended up borrowing a shovel from someone who, for whatever reason, owned two.

Show-offs.

The snow eventually stopped, of course, and had, for the most part, turned to slush by the time Sunday rolled around, and my wife and I set out to meet my parents for lunch.

We met in the parking lot, my mom and dad bundled up against the cold – prepared for more snow, should it come – and me wearing a hoodie, a light jacket and a pair of high-top Nikes.

“Why aren’t you wearing boots?” my mom asked, looking down at my slush-covered sneakers.

“I don’t own any,” I said.

Nick Greenizan is a reporter at the Peace Arch News.

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