Friday, January 8, 2010

Snowy Cultural Nuances

Interesting that they do not shovel snow off the sidewalks in Stockholm when it snows. It has been snowing here for weeks I presume. It was snowing before I left for the states and the snow was still going strong upon my return. Sure, with lapses in between but the temperature has been below freezing the whole time which has allowed for the accumulation a of fair amount of snow. Not shoveling the sidewalks has left mini-icebergs of varying heights all over the sidewalks, some five or six inches high.

I guess the lack of ambulance chasers will leave the business owners a little more ambivalent about the idea of someone breaking their necks outside of their establishments but even and still, just shovel the 10 foot by 6 foot area outside of your store, already. I contrast that with my German neighbors whom I would routinely catch with buckets full of bleach water and scrub brushes scrubbing off their front steps. So, yeah, I couldn't picture them allowing ice, sand, snow and cigarettes accumulating at their stoops. Sometimes living in a litigious society has it's benefits.

Even stranger, I keep seeing people shoveling snow off the roof tops. I was walking along yesterday as an avalanche of powdery white snow came flying off the roof ahead of me. Later that day I saw the same scene coming from the roof of a different building. A middle aged Swedish dad had stopped with his two toddlers to witness the spectacle. I stopped and asked just why they were shoveling snow off the roof tops. I thought it unusual that they'd go to all the trouble to shove it from the roof tops as it accumulates on the streets below. His response was that it clogged the drain pipes. Further proof that you do indeed learn something new everyday.

Knowing a little more about the snowy weather than I would ever care to have to recollect, I do know salt is by far the best antidote for road or walkway slipperiness after a snowfall. The dirt thing, not so much. I gather it is some environmental concern why they do not use salt though I can not really say for sure. Why use what works seems to be the mantra of policy makers in modern times.

Although, the oddest thing I have seen relating to the snowy weather was walking into the entrance of the grocery store yesterday. It's a rather large store with a large brick face opening to an industrial sort of building. I believe it used to be an old train station. As I walked up the ramp to the entrance I noticed, strangely, no snow or ice but water and hot steam simmering up from the ground. I looked up to see boiling hot water streaming down from above the entrance way. I don't mean misters or some organized method of dispersing water I mean water haphazardly flying out of some sort of hose and lots of it.

I looked around thinking clearly something was wrong. A pipe had burst...something. I peeked in; the store appeared open. I carefully maneuvered my way in through the about seven inches of clear area through the hot shower coming from above. Pools of hot water lay in the walkway. About an hour later, I came out through the same small dry space, water still raging from above. I guess you just have to file this one under "shit you just can not make up". I will also file it under reasons why it's a good thing we'll never be as cultured and civilized as the Europeans. (;


  1. Structurally speaking snow will collapse a roof of allowed to accumulate too much. Also I would guess that salt is more expensive than dirt.
    The steam bath baffles me.

  2. Hey AC--Yep, made it back safe and sound. I actually slept most of the flight.

    KOOK-See the update above. Seems they have some open market share for rooftop snow shovelers if you are the adventurous and sadistic sort.

  3. We don't use salt if it can be avoided, because it's corroding. The cars would rust.

  4. Probably the wisest man on earthApril 21, 2010 at 7:50 AM

    Hmmm, the most obvious reason not to use salt to me is that salt mixed with water lowers the freezing point to maybe -5, so if it's -15 outside, pooring salt will do absolutely nothing.