A woman walked into an Anchorage tire shop and said, “I’ve worn out all my studs.”
“You don’t say,” said the amused tire salesman, pursing his lips and smirking, his gaze trained on the counter.
Throughout the store guys popped their heads up like prairie-dogs, curious to see what female would make such an assertion.
It suddenly occurred to me my choice of words may have been suggestive, even by Alaska tire shop standards in the biz of selling studded snow tires. Duck-paddling, I rushed to clarify.
“I mean the studs on my tires are worn down.”
“Oh.” Grunts of understanding and nods of empathetic agreement followed. Every guy in the store knew what I meant, but I felt like they mutually shared a secret society of enjoying me feeling awkward with my evocative double meaning.
“You know—no snow—the global warming thing,” I further burbled. “Running studs on pavement grinds them to nubbins.”
“Don’t you love it?” one guy piped up. “I want one of those bumper stickers that says, ALASKANS FOR GLOBAL WARMING!”
I thought of my bumper-sticker, “ALASKA GIRLS KICK ASS,” and suddenly realized drivers don’t give me guff when I’m cruising around. Maybe I could fit this global warming bumper-sticker underneath it—nah, better not, it would definitely attract “guff.”
“Haven’t even fired up the snow-blower yet this year,” another guy chimed in, interrupting my philosophical reverie about bumper-stickers.
Everyone laughed, nodding their heads. We then groused about how our studded tires are ripping up the roads, causing ruts on the Glenn and pocky-potholes everywhere. We also agreed when ice is the only surface to drive on, these same studs keep us from crashing into each other (usually).
We joke about the lack of snow and how Anchorage recently broke an all-time record of 30 consecutive days without measurable snowfall. At the same time, we know the sobering price Alaska will pay again this fire season—last year was the worst fire season with the most scorched acres and highest property losses in state history. We’ve already had our first wildfire in the interior—in February—and fire season hasn’t officially begun.
While our winters have become warm and mild in recent years, there’s the camp who loves it and the camp who doesn’t. Snow removal businesses, skiers, and snow-machiners hate it. Sanding companies love it with all the freezing rain and ice accumulation that has become the status quo in recent winters. The municipalities love it because they’re saving money on snow removal. My dogs love it because their heads aren’t buried in snow when they pee (never mind that Amber skidded down our long, ice-rink driveway like Bambi, wondering how she got there).
No matter which camp you’re in—our winters are different now from the cold, snowy Alaska winters of our past. Who knows, maybe this has been an El Nino thing and we’ll return to snowy, cold winters.
Global warming, El Nino, the Pineapple Express warmth from Hawaii? No matter the word choice, the reality is that the last few Alaska winters have been more like a rainy Seattle encased in ice. Our president even proclaimed it when he stood next to Exit Glacier near Seward last September: “Exit Glacier is exiting all right, soon it’ll only be a river.”
Maybe, maybe not. Hard to say.
I smile, thinking if I walk into a Lower 48 tire shop and announce that I’ve worn out my studs, guys will hover transfixed and captivated, like a swarm of mosquitoes.
It’s all a matter of word choice.
© Lois Paige Simenson and The Alaska Philosophaster, 2016, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to The Alaska Philosophaster with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. LIPS