Hay: There’s snow business like snow business

All kinds of records are being set these days. The coldest “cold snap,” the most snow, the most visits to emergency after “putting your back out” shoveling snow, and the most number of moron politicians elected in a single year (in the United States of Ahellofamess).

Moronic politics aside, snow has been quite the story this year, even forcing the main stream media to be occasionally distracted from riveting front page stories about Brad and Angelina or the ongoing debacle known as “the Kardashians” to report about snowplows and walking like penguins. Thankfully.

This week in Berlin: German trauma surgeons advise public to walk like penguins. Reuters news service warns that temperatures in Berlin are expected to “plunge to -10 C” (the wimps) and the last time this horrific event happened municipal authorities were criticized over their failure to sprinkle pavement with salt and as a result more than 750 (!) emergency calls were received and the ERs were overrun with bone fractures. Sort of like Vancouver when they get 1.5 cms of snow once every five years.

So to avoid the surreal scene of Berliners flailing around like drunken sailors, the German Society of Orthopaedics and Trauma Surgery have issued an official advisory officially advising people to walk like chubby flightless birds. The notification – complete with a diagram – instructs humans to “lean the torso forward so that the center of gravity is on the front leg.” So it would be a kind of half a turn left, then half a turn right, etc, shuffling along with our arms at our sides like King or Emperor or perhaps a Southern Rock Hopper. This adorable penguin amble apparently decreases the risk of slipping and definitely increases the risk of neighbours laughing at you. But I wonder how well the penguin waddle works shovelling snow, which is all we seem to be doing these days.

And speaking of shovelling snow, last week in Parsonsfield, Maine: Snowplow driver quits, residents clear streets with shovels. It seems that this southern Maine town of 1,900 souls wasn’t exactly prepared for a storm dumping 25 inches (95 decagrams) of snow on their sleepy village.

Especially since their ONE plow truck driver quit. So the hearty Parsonsfielders did what they had to do – move to nearby New Hampshire. Just kidding, they “grabbed shovels and got to work.”

It took several days and no doubt more than a few trips to New Hampshire chiropractors but the robust residents managed to clear the roads “in time for the weekly garbage and recycling pickup.” No word on whether the Maine folks were seen walking like penguins.

And in a related story, people are dropping their pants. Yes, once again it’s time for the yearly event whereby: Subway riders strip down to their underwear. It’s called the annual No Pants Subway Ride and since seven participants started it in New York in 2002, chilly people everywhere are riding the subway in their gotchies. Even if there is snow around those who feel so inclined will drop their drawers in public. It works like this: “participants are told to get on trains and act as they normally would and are given an assigned point to take off their pants. They’re asked to keep a straight face and respond matter-of-factly to anyone who asks them if they’re cold.”

Thing is, the No Pants Subway Ride now takes place all over the world – from Boston to Poland, and yes, even Berlin. Where it’s -10 C and they walk like penguins.

Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, award-winning author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate. His books can be found at Chapters, Coles and Sunworks in Red Deer.

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