As you may have heard, we in the Northeast are due for a bit of a storm tonight into tomorrow. Or, as the increasingly nonstop TV, radio, and Internet hype would make you think, a snowpocalypse is about to smite us from Hoboken to Bangor. Sure, we're due to get a couple of feet of the white stuff, and some wind and tidal flooding. But this is New England in January—some wild and wintry weather is not exactly a rare event. We have lots of snowplows, and road salt, and emergency crews on standby, and TV reporters in Gortex standing on the roadside telling people to stay off the roads.
So why all the round-the-clock hype, which started yesterday on our local news channels? Why were the lines at Costco two days before the first flake even flew halfway to the back of the store? (Note to self: Leave the Costco run until the next weekend next time snow is in the forecast—life is too short to wait in that line!) Why the desperate need to horde two carts full of water bottles? And will you really need five jumbo packs of TP before the roads clear in about 24 hours? Why did even I feel the need to check our stash of D batteries, when I know we have plenty to power our emergency lanterns? That sense of urgency is as contagious, even to those of us who have been through our fair share of storms and their attendant power outages, as the colds and sore throats that have been going around. Unless this is a replay of the Blizzard of '78—that in fact was worth freaking out over—this is all so unnecessary. And yet we just can't help ourselves.
Which is why it was so interesting to communicate with city officials in some of our northeastern cities today about what's the happs with meetings going on the next few days. Talk about cautiously optimistic! Compared to the craziness of the general citizenry, they were keeping calm and carrying on, being prepared without being panicky. Like their meeting planning counterparts, I expect they will be communicating, planning for contingencies, checking and rechecking their backup plans, shifting where they need to shift, and keeping people safe while enabling them to meet and do business as much as the weather permits.
In our world of hype and frenzy over any attention-commanding story—and the weather is always, always one of those around here—it's kind of refreshing to be reminded that, despite the craziness of the crowds, meeting professionals and their hospitality counterparts manage to keep their wits about them and calmly do the best they can with the challenges Nature, or whatever else, throws at them.
To my fellow New Englanders: May your batteries be long-lived, your larder full, your phones and other toys fully charged, your fireplace or woodstove warm, your car safely parked, and your loved ones at your side. We'll get through this. We always do.