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Blizzard spawns bad behavior

Date: 1/24/2011

By G. Michael Dobbs, Managing Editor

Jan. 24, 2011

I used to think that if you spent a year or two living in New England, you were a New Englander.

You go to your state's capital and have your visa stamped, get the secret password and your decoder ring. Now you're one of us.

As part of the naturalization process, you're told, if you're a sports fan, to root for the Bruins, Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots. You also should be supporting the Falcons and the Armor, locally.

You know that the best maple syrup, apples and cheese, for instance, come from New England. There are some of the prettiest views in the world here in the six state area.

We have accents that range for quaint to unintelligible.

New England, historically, isn't just a place that was among the earliest places settled by the Europeans, it has also been an entrance for a wide variety of people from other places. We're a melting pot. Everybody lives here.

So, as I am a transplanted New Englander — born in New Mexico but lived here most of my life — I'm pretty accepting of new folks.

I'm now doubting my open-mindedness.

I don't know about your neighborhood, but in mine there are plenty of New Englanders who suddenly act as if living through the winter was a new thing and they don't know the etiquette.

After our 22-inch storm, followed by ice and, as I write, we are hearing about another storm, I was hoping people would do the right thing.

I was wrong. I saw many idiots, morons and selfish jerks. Pardon my vehemence. Perhaps they skipped that part of the "How to be a New Englander" class.

Since I was stuck at my home for nearly 48 hours — my street didn't get plowed until about 3 p.m. on the day following the Nor'easter — I witnessed too many acts that were completely unnecessary.

One neighbor parked her car in the street instead of the driveway. I was told this was common, as people want to prevent plows from filling in the entrance of the driveway so they park their cars there even though that impedes the clearing process.

This neighbor, though, had parked her car elsewhere on the street. She then moved it into the driveway once it had been cleared. Of course, the crew that cleared the driveway blew that snow into my driveway.

Since other neighbors left their cars on the street there were huge piles of snow everywhere after plowing that left the street with blind spots and enough room for a single lane.

And I had a neighbor blow snow into the street. He still hasn't cleared all of the walks for his rental properties, either.

Of course, despite the fact the city told residents trash wouldn't be collected, there were plenty of people who left their bins on the sidewalk or in the street, which complicated clearing as well. What can I expect from neighbors who won't bring a recyclable bin 20 feet to the curb and instead allow it to become an ice floe?

People, people, people.

Naturally, I wanted to retaliate and toss some snow in their direction, but I didn't. It didn't seem prudent.

I know there were acts of kindness and consideration during the storm, but I didn't see any in my neck of the woods.

With the forecast of more storms, I can only hope my neighbors get the memo.

Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. And as always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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