Weeks of bad weather have taken a toll on Triangle residents

jshaffer@newsobserver.comFebruary 14, 2014 

— With all of Raleigh stuck indoors, Seth Hoffman trudged to work in the slush this week, dutifully manning his post at one of the city’s most essential bad-weather jobs:

Wine delivery.

In a storm too wet for sledding, too messy for snowmen, too slippery to drive, Hoffman catered to a population driven slowly insane by hibernation.

Once crossword puzzles were solved, Netflix was exhausted, and chicken soup got consumed, he arrived bearing a basket of Chianti and pasta sauce.

Shut-ins with jangled nerves make for big business.

“If you lose power,” said Hoffman, owner of The Raleigh Wine Shop on Glenwood Avenue, “I want to make sure there’s something nice to drink.”

As Wake County faced yet another snow day, the toll of cooped-up winter showed in its eye bags and short temper.

Bad weather, bad mood

Scholars have long seen the connection between bad weather and bad moods.

In December, a Scientific American article noted that a Swiss-led group analyzed tree-ring data and found that long periods of cold “overlapped with raucous historical events ranging from a Celtic expansion around 350 B.C. to modern migrations from Europe to the Americas in the 1800s.”

So in Raleigh, a region unfamiliar with seasonal affective disorder, the sort of depression that frequently turns up in winter, found itself in kinship with Alaska.

Note this Facebook post from Katherine Ball, 43, who had ventured into uneasy territory with her Labrador retriever.

“Housebound for eighteen hours,” she wrote, “and Fletch just gave me the Jack Nicholson ‘All-work-and-no-play-makes-Jack-a-dull-boy’ look from ‘The Shining.’ Gonna be a long snow day.”

All across the Triangle, people with flickering electricity turned to laptops and social media to note the ice sculptures dangling from their roof gutters, and to thank their stars that they still owned a few books printed on paper.

Many passed around recipes for snow cream: Combine snow, vanilla, sugar. Mix.

In Durham, multimedia developer Daniel Niblock, 39, provided online evidence that it is possible to photograph a cotton ball in a snowstorm.

“I bet this is a world first,” he said.

This storm offered the Triangle little outlet for its pent-up snow angst, so crippling that it didn’t just shut down the UNC-Duke men’s basketball game Wednesday night, but it also delayed a funeral. Due to inclement weather, J.C. Norris’ service will be held Saturday.

Snow humor

Perhaps not as surprising, considering its baristas dress in bikinis, Cup O Jane’s coffee provided no afternoon lift.

With no outlet for frustration, some turned to vain attempts at humor. Snow jokes abounded on Twitter. SNOMG.

From Ahmed Amer, a former N.C. State University student working at Ipreo downtown:

“Hey guys ... Did North Carolina change it’s name to Edward? ... ‘Cause it sure is SNOWED IN!!!!!! #yolol #jokes2014”

Even angels such as Hoffman held a tenuous edge over the weather.

He abandoned his car to the snow on Wednesday, then borrowed a friend’s car, which sadly had rear-wheel drive.

“My girlfriend is a Wake County school teacher ... with no school,” he said. “She’s my chauffeur in an Accord.”

Shaffer: 919-829-4818

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