Last week’s epic snow and ice storm was interesting in terms of noted psychological phenomena. For one, there seems to be the creation of a tremendous sense of ennui, a lack of interest in doing pretty much anything. I’m always moaning about needing time to write my next novel, for example, and last week presented a day or two of a perfect storm of opportunity. Pun intended. And how much did I write? Nada. Zero. Zilch. When I queried others who returned to a more or less normal work day yesterday, having been out for three of four days, most of them had a similar experience. They did nothing of note – at all.
A second effect I do not understand is how I, and many others, can watch hours of TV coverage that does not change a whit. Here is the reporter out driving in a car reporting on how being out driving in a car is not a wise thing to do, and virtually all of the views out of the car are the same. And yet I sit there transfixed, flipping channels repeatedly to watch the same thing. As a person who does not like to watch the same movie twice, this is inexplicable.
The third effect is that many of us seem to go to great lengths to go to work, even if there is no work to go to and no real reason to make the effort. Force of habit? Puritan ethic? I do not know, but I dutifully drove to work on Thursday for about one hour, and spent most of the day there Friday. For one thing, few people are likely to trek to a motorcycle dealership in a blizzard. For another, many employees of motorcycle dealerships do not have 4wd vehicles, so they cannot get there in the first place. I can unlock the doors and turn on the lights, but I do no have access to the money and have not been trained in the operation of the computerized cash registers, so I could not sell anything even in the unlikely event that a customer arrived.
So does this come from our childhood, where the rare snow day was a time to cherish, even though after a day or two I would get bored and want to go back to school? Is it a side effect of Americans working more hours and more days that most other cultures, so that when forced to not work we simply shut down?
I don’t really know. Most of these essays try to make a point, but this one is much like the response of so many to the storm. It just sits here… inert.
David Preston Copyright 2012