Thursday night I left the newsroom at 7 p.m., fully intending to go over to Hardee's and get two of those barbecue pulled pork sandwiches to eat so I would have the energy to go to Vessell's and walk on the treadmill and ride the recumbent bicycle for 40 minutes.
The snowfall did not seem a big deal to me, for I am old and remember the days before the current weather cycle, back when we had truly heavy snowfalls. In those days, "foot of snow" was not just a folk saying; it was a reality.
We've gone so many years without a major snow that folks latch on to any precipitation prediction and make it an impending catastrophe. At my day job, my young co-workers were pulling their cell phones out of lockers at every break and checking on the weather. Someone started a snow pool for charity; for $1 you could pick how much snow you figured would be measurable at 2 p.m. Friday right outside the front door of the building. I pitched in a buck and picked 1.25 inches because nothing lower was available.
By 7 p.m. there was some snow on my car that was quickly cleared, and I headed to Hardee's to get those two pulled pork sandwiches. On the way over, I noticed the traffic was sparse.
I wondered if all the Chicken Littles had gone to the supermarket to stock up on bread, milk and eggs for the duration of the snowfall. I've written before about how people around here will clear the grocery shelves even though only a few rural residents face the prospect of being snowed in. Those of us who live in town do not need to "stock up." Editor Lynn Brennan, a Massachusetts resident whose most recent assignment before coming to Rolla was in upstate New York where they have deep snowfalls, asked us why Ozarkers buy all the milk, eggs and bread when the weatherman mentions snow flurries. "Does everyone get the urge to make French toast when it snows?" she asked, not sarcastically, either. I told her that it was just an old hillbilly tradition.
As I pulled through the parking lot at Hardee's, I looked into the restaurant and noticed it was empty. It was utterly devoid of diners. I proceeded on to the ordering kiosk, rolled down my window and waited for someone to ask me for my order. And waited. And waited.
"Hey, anybody there?" I said. No response. "I'm hungry and I want two of those barbecue pulled pork sandwiches," I shouted. No response.
I pulled around to order directly from the window. There was no one there. By this time, I was steamed, so I left. I guess Snowmageddon had closed them down. I drove off and headed to Lee's Chicken to get a couple of delicious barbecued chicken sandwiches before going to walk on the treadmill and ride on the recumbent bicycle. I was very hungry by this time.
Page 2 of 3 - I pulled up to the kiosk and a helpful voice said, "May I take your order?"
"Yes, sir," I said. "I'll have two of your delicious barbecued chicken sandwiches."
"I'm sorry, sir," the helpful voice said. "We are all out of barbecued chicken."
"Well, for crying out loud," I said. "All right then. Thanks anyway."
"I've very sorry," the helpful voice said.
Apparently, a lot of people stopped and grabbed barbecue sandwiches to eat on their way to the supermarket to stock up on milk, bread and eggs to prepare for the Snowpocalypse.
"It's all right. I'll try again in a day or two," I said.
By this time, I figured the Lord was telling me that I should not eat before going to Vessell's to walk on the treadmill and ride on the recumbent bicycle. Moreover, my stomach was telling me it was hungry, so I decided I would just go home and get something to eat there, skipping the workout.
I braved my way through blinding snow and fixed a bowl of steaming soup. It was delicious.
THE HOOKAH LOUNGE:
I wrote last week about the council's consideration of a hookah lounge or bar. Monday night, the council discussed it and then decided not to take the opportunity to amend the workplace smoke ban ordinance. In Rolla, you can't smoke anyplace there's a paid employee in the building. You can smoke at the Lions Club Den where all the workers are volunteers. When a catering company shows up, though, you're supposed to put out your cigarettes and cigars and extinguish your pipes. At least that's my understanding of what goes on. If I'm wrong, I'm sure someone will tell me.
At least for now, there'll be no waiver granted to bars after 9 p.m., no allowances for businesses that sell tobacco products, no nod to cultures or age groups that want to sit around and smoke flavored tobacco through water pipes.
You just can't smoke in a building where there's a paid worker. Period.
To commemorate the occasion, I have written a poem:
SEVEN HOOKAH LINES THAT ARE STINKERS
The Rolla City Council said no to the hookah
to keep people's lungs clear of the tar and the gookah.
So chew bubble gum instead.
Try some Bazooka.
Or write a letter up North to a friendly Nanookah.
Or drink a beer and listen to a tune on a jookah
box. Or flirt with a woman who seems a good lookah.
You think you have rights?
Page 3 of 3 - The city don't give a fookah.
Yes, yes, I know it should be "city doesn't" but the line meter fits better with "city don't" so I'm using the poetic license I carry in my wallet.
Also, "fookah" is not a naughty word. It is a word I just made up, and because I made it up, I have the right to define it. It means "hoot or flip." It doesn't mean what you think it means.
R.D. Hohenfeldt, a Georgia native, has lived in Rolla since '84. Currently, he writes regular columns for OzarksAlmanac.com and occasional columns on the registered forums of Smoker-Builder.com. On the night shift, he helps cover Rolla city and school government for The Rolla Daily News. (Photo of R.D. and Henry the Wonderpoodle courtesy of