A travesty is ravaging the city of Ann Arbor.
Akin to genocide, snowflakes — lost and without a home — are being trampled left and right. For some, this means melt. For others, it just means the pain of being trampled. Why? Because many people are not shoveling or salting their sidewalks. Nary in history has such a widespread genocide gone so unnoticed.
In 1986, a radical group formed the People for the Humane Treatment of Snowflakes (PHTS). The group was founded on the belief that snowflakes are people too — er, well, not exactly, but I think you understand the point. “No snowflake,” states the preamble to the PHTS charter, “ought to be trampled and left for melt because a tenant has not properly kept their property.”
Some think snowflakes that land on sidewalks deserve to get trampled for landing on our sidewalks. “If they didn’t land there, they wouldn’t have been trampled,” said a prominent House Republican.
But this philosophy is nothing short of social darwinism and should be discouraged. It’s not of the snowflakes’ fault that they land where they do. PHTS has worked hard to make sure that people understand that snowflakes have very little choice in where they land.
PHTS has a simple solution: Sidewalks should be shoveled. This simple gesture would save millions of snowflakes from a horrible fate of melt and refreeze.
PHTS isn’t mum on the issue of salting, either. Their official website policy states: “PHTS recognizes that salting is a suitable alternative to shoveling. This spares snowflakes the embarrassment and agony of being trampled.” Opponents, of course, are quick to find this hypocritical. They question whether we should believe that PHTS is actually invested in improving conditions for snowflakes, or whether they are merely invested in their own personal gain.
And the opposition might be on to something there. The PHTS website also goes into great detail regarding the human benefit from snow removal: “Laborers, students and the physically disabled all use sidewalk paths regularly. These paths may become dangerous when walked on repeatedly, as friction causes melt and the melted snow then refreezes, forming ice patches. These ice patches can often cause people to slip and fall, causing injuries.”
I can see the point they’re trying to make. I walk past Alpha Delta Phi fraternity on State Street every day, and in the winter, it’s a trek. I can’t even make it to the Union bus stop in time if I run. Between the boots and the six inches of snow, it’s almost impossible. And I know that in just a few weeks the snow is going to be completely iced over. Then I won’t be able to walk on it, let alone run to catch a bus.
Then I consider the mail carriers who are obligated to report to every house in the city. At least where I’m from, the mail carriers have the option to cease delivery if the mailbox is inaccessible, but it almost seems like that never happens here. I don’t think the people on Cross Street can go without mail for an entire month. But the snow stays there the whole time. Mail carriers should just cease delivery, though, and as long as they have that option, I can’t offer them any sympathy.
I heard a campus myth that you can actually get ticketed up to $1,000 if you don’t shovel your sidewalks. I laughed when I heard it first. But really, I can’t wait until The Michigan Daily asks University President Mary Sue Coleman whether it’s true or not.
No, I’m not deranged, high or stupid. Yes, “People for the Humane Treatment of Snowflakes” is completely fictional. But if treating snowflakes humanely is what gets you to shovel your snow, I’m not complaining. The problems and annoyances of people not salting and shoveling their sidewalks are very real, so I implore the citizens of Ann Arbor to shovel or salt their sidewalks. It’s difficult, I know — we all have class. But if you won’t do it to avoid the fines, the liability, or for the students, the mail carriers, or the physically disabled, please: Do it for the snowflakes.
Eric Szkarlat can be reached at email@example.com.