Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The wrong kind of snow

Another day passes, and Seattle inches closer to Snowmageddon, or Snowpocalypse, or Holofrost, or some other world-ending event with a chilly theme.

I looked out of my hotel window this morning, and the snow had cleared from the road. There was still a little sitting on the roofs, but nothing else. Even so, as we drove in to the office today, some cars passed completely coated in snow. It felt a bit like the early stages of a zombie film; occasionally the Infected would show up, but only as a hint of the terrifying hordes that would roll in later.

Just like the middle section of a generic zombie film, the offices were mostly deserted again today. There were perhaps a few more people than yesterday, but when the snow began to fall at midday, everyone scarpered, fleeing like a tide of lemmings away from Bellevue.

We remained. We were made of stronger stuff, or perhaps it was because we had visitors who had flown in and therefore we couldn't show weakness in front of them.

It wasn't really snow to begin with. When I first looked out the window, it looked more like hail, large hailstones, like polystyrene beads from the packaging of a 1990s electronic device. Yes, and just as joyful as that suggests. Within ten minutes, the roof outside the meeting room was white, and then the precipitation intensified. It snowed harder. Whatever.

It wasn't very nice snow. It's not been nice snow all week. I don't know if that is because it's too dry, or too wet, or too cold, but we haven't got soft, fluffy snow, the kind you're meant to make into snowballs and fling at people. No, we've got nasty hard, icy snow, the kind that people make into snowballs and fling at people when they're intent on hurting them. So in good conscience I couldn't enlist the others in a snowball fight, not unless I wanted to hang around with concussed, bruised colleagues as somebody from HR took me through disciplinary procedures.

With no way to go out in the snow, I had to stay indoors.

This was not without its amusements. One of the visitors had a malfunctioning laptop, which required him to enter his password but decided that only a quarter of the keys on the keyboard would work. Maybe it was too cold, poor thing. After turning it off and on half a dozen times, he resorted to stripping the battery out of the back and squeezing the case of the machine. It behaved itself when it was put back together again after that. I think that wasn't because of the battery, but because the computer heard me recommending we douse it in Dr Pepper and roll a chair over it.

Ah yes, they have Dr Pepper here. So everything starts to remind me of the year 2000, in that I was in a country that didn't seem to be able to cope with snow, and I was drinking Dr Pepper, and I had a laptop that wasn't very good.

These are poetic parallels, the kind that will bring tears to the eyes of anyone who reads them in a century's time. It's hard that I had to fly all the way to Seattle to expose my heart to such beauty, but that is the nature of things. Earlier, I pointed out a Wittgensteinian point about language that a barista made this morning while producing lattes.

That, or the anti-malarial hallucinations are kicking in at last.


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