Why Do Texans Let Weather Get in the Way?

RECEIVED Wed., Jan. 17, 2007

Dear Editor,
    As I sit at home, staring out at the refrigerated gloom of Downtown, I can't help but feel fairly disgusted with the Public Works Department here in Austin. It's neither a holiday nor a Sunday, yet the central post office (which is just below my windows) has been as dead today as it is on either of those; no mail was delivered. So much for “Neither rain nor sleet nor snow, etc.,” eh? Also, the lobby of our building was deserted for the third day in a row; not a concierge or maintenance person to be found. Hell, it looks from here like Austin is closed! And why? Because there's a hint of ice on the ground? A quarter inch of ice renders us helpless? We can't deliver mail, go to work, school, etc., whenever we have one of these winter storms? I mean, sure, going out in this wet, cold misery on foot is an act of masochism to say the least, but still.
    Well, I suppose ice storms haven't happened that often in the four-plus years I've lived here, but they are a fairly well-known condition of Texas winter. Suppose this weather continues; are we just going to keep closing things down, keep delaying important services, for as long as the storm goes on? This does not make sense to me. In Colorado, where I'm from, we have practical solutions for this sort of problem: salt and sand. Public Works vehicles go around in the early hours of the morning, salting (or sanding) the streets; businesses and even residents salt their own pieces of sidewalk. As a result, it takes the kind of catastrophic weather Denver has been having recently to force this kind of general shutdown. C'mon, folks; if it's bad enough to close down much of the city, it's bad enough to salt. Obviously, there are a lot of people who will have to drive in it anyway; certainly they deserve to have safer roads under their wheels. “It doesn't happen all that often,” my roommates, both Texas natives, told me as an explanation of why this wasn't being done.
    Well, it may not happen all the time, but it can happen more than once in a winter and does happen often enough that we should have effective methods for dealing with it. What do we pay our local taxes for, anyway? It is the city's job to deal with things like this so we don't have to close down when relatively piddly little storms blow into town and decide to hang around for a while. It just seems so contrary to the spirit of this city, let alone of this state, for us to let such a basically wussy winter storm keep us from doing our business; it's downright un-American! Since when have any Americans, let alone Texans, ever let a little thing like nature get in our way?
In all (well, half) sincerity,
Julien S. Walden
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