The big freeze is a state of mind

As readers in the Dublin area will be able to confirm, getting around this city over the past day or two has not been easy. Although snow and ice have descended upon us again, there is no sign of any kind of local authority gritting. The snow has simply piled up and has made many, perhaps most, roads treacherous. Having lived in places where such weather is not so rare, I am able to negotiate these conditions reasonably well, and have been getting around in my car; though it is a slow business, as other drivers struggle to keep their cars going as they want them to.

But what has struck me is the utter lack of concern for others that I seem to be witnessing. Since yesterday morning I have encountered some 15 motorists who were stuck – skidding, unable to move forward, unable to get up a hill, unable to get out of or get back into their drives, and so forth. And nobody was helping them. Here’s an example.

Yesterday a woman driving a people carrier was trying to drive along the road as it went up a small hill. She had got about half way up with the car skidded sideways, and now she was standing with her car across both sides of the road, unable to move it. Because she was right in the middle of the road cars were able to pass by on both sides of her, which they did, and not one stopped to help. As I got out of my car to see if I could do something for her, a taxi driver passing by slowed down, pulled down his window, and shouted at her to stay at home if she didn’t know how to drive, and that she should get a ‘proper car’. When I reached her she was in tears, but with a little help I was able to get her back on her way; though as no good deed goes unpunished, I found that my own car was now stuck on the hill – but I was able to get it moving by easing back down again first.

I am not suggesting I am particularly good or helpful. All too often I don’t stop in normal conditions to help someone. But at times such as these we need to show solidarity with others and stop to help. Have we lost that little bit of compassion?

By the way, my dog also helps. When on our walks we have found motorists in distress, I stop to push and he stands at the side of the road and barks vigorously. It encourages us…

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7 Comments on “The big freeze is a state of mind”

  1. Vincent Says:

    No one is the perfect driver, but it would damn well help if people had some sort of previous experience on an oil pan. It never ceases to amaze me that to pass the driving test all the candidate has to do is tootle about some bland obstacles. No driving on a National route, no knowledge of under-steer or over steer. And certainly no notion of what to do when the rear-end begins to overtake you. For heavens sakes, even though most have abs brakes no one has felt them except in the 14sec before hitting a tree.

  2. My experience is quite different. I’ve seen people helping cars in distress and in all sorts of other ways. I’ve done my little bit too when occasions presented themselves. All this helping is usually done with laughter; it’s seen as fun! Ok, you do have the meanies but they’re around all the time and are best ignored.

    Dublin Co. Council workers have been great. Roads are gritted, cleared and gritted again. Let’s be reasonable: Any country which gets a bit more snow than it expected struggles to keep things in motion. Germany was in trouble last weekend. When we had our last big snowfall, a Canadian student of mine took to mocking the Irish for their “failure” with tiny amounts of snow when compared to Canada. A few minutes on the web gave ample evidence of Canadian chaos when snow exceeded their norms. God, but I had fun posting those links for her!

    Post has been delivered every day! Fantastic service!

    On the subject of dogs, though he tries very hard, my Flatcoat struggles to find retriever dummies in snow. Perhaps he’ll learn to do it; he’s young.

    • When the last snow hit us a couple of weeks ago, I thought the gritting work was excellent. But today I have driven around various roads in Dublin, and not one was gritted, anywhere, at all. I am myself not that critical bout it, I understand the pressures we are under, and the unexpected nature of this extraordinary winter.

      Though to balance my post, I have just been out with the dog, and we came upon a scene where about five people, men and women, were helping to get a van with disabled passengers moving again after it has got stuck.

  3. Anna Notaro Says:

    no such problems in Southern Italy guys, tropical 17 degrees, the only help people might need is with their carrier bags!!:)

  4. Em Says:

    Sad, but true reality. The Ireland I came to 11 years ago has changed… Here in the countryside, there might be more solidarity and it’s the locals who actually grit the roads. Fair play to them!

  5. Treasa Says:

    On this I have one comment. I have lived in other countries where this weather is more common. And winter tyres are mandatory. Most drivers in Ireland do not have them.

    I choose not to drive in those conditions here on the grounds that I don’t have winter tyres at present. If this weather was to be common, I’d have them fitted. The second, and more pressing reason is that most other drivers do not have winter tyres either AND have an over inflated sense of their ability to drive in prevailing conditions. Even if I had winter tyres myself, the knowledge that many others don’t would terrify me.

    Too many drivers choose not to clear their cars properly before setting off. Barely cleared windscreens and rear windscreens. Driving too close to vehicles, no concept of increased stopping distances. Driving too fast. I feel pretty sure that many of these drivers complain about overly cautious drivers getting in their way.

    I’m all for helping people who are in trouble. On balance, however, I’m even more all for avoiding the need for getting into trouble in the first place. Ultimately getting stuck in snow is not a case of “not being able to drive in the conditions” and perhaps if those arrogant drivers who castigated those who did get stuck were to get stuck themselves, they might learn some humility on the road which might be of benefit year round.

    However, I have doubts that the country might be so lucky.

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