Blizzard of ’78

I was talking to a friend last Friday about how we were fortunate to have avoided the bad weather. I was referring to the blizzard that missed New England and instead tormented the neighboring southern states dropping close to 30 inches of snow in certain areas. We talked about how states like Virginia, so ill equipped for snowstorm, might be crippled in the coming week.

Over our conversation, my friend talked about another blizzard of similar magnitude. It was 32 years ago, exactly the same time period (first week of Feb) the only difference being that it did not spare New England. He mentioned how the blizzard had brought the entire New England to a standstill, cars were stuck on the MassPike, people left their cars on the highway and walked miles to reach the confines of their home, schools were closed and most offices were closed for a few days. Over a few days the snowfall had accumulated up to 44 inches (with 27inches on one day).But he didn’t remember that blizzard for the damage it inflicted; instead he remembered how it brought the best out of everyone. He remembered that after the first day people came out of their houses, walked together to the grocery, tried to help each other in clearing up the snow, small kids teamed up to make snowman and older ones took up tubing and snow boarding. It was kind of a festive atmosphere, with the blizzard and its affect taking a backstage.

Adversity brings out the best in people. So true!

“That guy is always there”

An interesting little incident took place while I was on my way to office today morning. It wasn’t groundbreaking nor eye-opening but it did epitomize what the fourth estate has been blaring about for some time now.

As I entered the first floor of my office building, a woman entered through the door on the opposite side. Something about her caught my attention; she was probably in her late thirties, petite and good looking. But it wasn’t that which distracted me, she was staring in my direction rather ungainly. Even though the cafeteria (filled with people queued up to get their morning coffee and bagel) and the large television screen was on the side where I was walking, my limited skills in kinesics was indicating that it was probably me that she was disturbed about.  As we got near the elevator door and I pressed the elevator button my mind began racing – was it my dressing sense that bothered her, was it about this Indian guy (me) walking into office when so many Americans (probably some close to her too) were out of job or was it the middle age crisis that she might have been going through. Thankfully before my mind could come up with more absurd reasons the elevator door opened and I let her go in first, so glad that my etiquettes were still intact.

In the elevator, she got a chance to look at my confused expression and probably realized what the cause was. To my good relief she said “That guy is always there”.

I was so glad to hear that. So, it was not me. It was some other guy. The relief that sentence brought, reflected on my face and I smiled at her in acknowledgement.

But now I wondered who “that guy” was? Was he the colleague on my floor who could always be spotted at the kitchen area or the canteen? There is a joke going around in my group that “Wherever there is food he will show up”. I began to think if this guy was equally notorious on the fourth floor too (where this lady worked, I am on the sixth floor).

I politely asked her “I didn’t notice… who was it”.

“Didn’t you watch the TV” came the pat reply. I almost blurted “Lady…I was so perturbed by your distraught expression that I missed the big screen!”. So it wasn’t my colleague that she was talking about, he could not be on TV, at least not on the AM news primetime. Then who was it?

I realized she was better at kinesics than me as she answered the question I had only asked in my mind. “It was the President”.

I quipped “Certainly it had to be him, the President”.

She went on “It’s been more a year since he took over. Nothing has improved, things have only got worse. All his big promises have fallen apart. But, he still lives the life of a rock star and is always on TV. He is no different than Woods or Edwards who are always on TV these days just for the wrong reasons and does not deserve that star treatment …”

Before she could complete her sentence the elevator stopped at the fourth floor, she slowly moved out and I could barely hear her say “Have a good one!”

I did not respond to her as I was still in a trance. Her statement was not an out of the world revelation by any means, but I was surprised by the level of resentment. That too towards the same guy who was the darling of the masses, not just America but the whole world loved him, a guy who I think is genuinely capable but somehow has not been able to walk the talk yet.

As I reached my office the first thing I did after logging onto my machine was to google for “president approval”. Google returned tons of blogs, news articles and polls. The Gallup poll pretty much summed up the presidents plight. I remember having woken up to “What goes around…comes around” in the morning, the graph on the Gallup poll reflected that so well.

The firm believer that I am in the president’s abilities and vision, I hope for his good, for America’s good and for a better world that he is able to turn the tables soon. Hopefully the graph has reached its nadir with only one way to go now…up!

Till then “that guy” will continue to take the flak. 
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