Editor’s Notes: It really ain’t that bad
May 11, 2017
By now we've run out of superlatives to describe this past winter, which is good timing because it's officially in the books … or so we thought.
Yes, the forecast said snow was likely this past weekend. Yes, snow is essentially a year-round possibility in the mountains.
But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't surprised Saturday when I looked outside and found a couple inches of snow on the back porch — a discovery punctuated with a couple four letter words.
It was irritating, mostly due to Mother Nature taunting us with truly spectacular weather all week only to give us gloomy skies, rain and snow once the weekend rolled around. Irritating, yes. Enraging, hardly.
One personal change I've noticed in the nearly six months since coming to Tahoe is being less prone to anger. Certainly it's not due to a lack of opportunity.
Just hours before Saturday's snowfall I found myself waiting in a slow-moving (understatement) line at Kmart. Like my fellow shoppers, I too started expressing exasperation when the line failed to move. Grunts, huffs and homicidal facial expressions — common sights when shopping at some of South Shore's larger retailers.
But as has been the case more and more, I caught myself.
"If waiting in line at the store is the worst part of my day then I've got a pretty sweet life. Come on, I'm living in Tahoe."
I ended up thinking those calming thoughts about an hour later at Safeway.
Beyond the "tribulations" of this past weekend, I find myself injecting this needed context when my blood pressure starts to increase.
An example: The bros partying it up a couple weeks ago, blaring country music and each spiritedly proclaiming he would have more luck — they weren't talking about gambling — than his other bros vacationing at my condo complex.
Another example: A neighbor, or more likely a weekend visitor, parking in my designated spot.
And a third example: The plow truck driver blocking my car in with a giant snow berm, again and again and again.
The more time that passes here in Tahoe the less irritated I become when these things happen. We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and having some visitors disturb the normal tranquility or having to wait in a long line at the grocery store really isn't that bad. After all, at the end of the long grocery line we're going home with food, a fact most of us don't worry about.
Yet, 12.7 percent of U.S. households in 2015 experienced food insecurity, which the USDA defines as: "At times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food."
And while it's easy to point to places like Syria — a poster child of human suffering, where around half a million have died and millions more have been displaced — to help reassure ourselves that we have it pretty good, the example needn't be so extreme nor so far away.
According to 2014-15 data shared by Welldorado.org, 9.3 percent of adults in El Dorado County have seriously considered suicide. American Community Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau says that 10.4 percent of El Dorado County residents are living below the poverty line. A different metric from the Census Bureau states that the percentage of "persons in poverty" in South Lake Tahoe is 18.5 percent.
Anecdotally, I can tell you that after checking the El Dorado County jail inmate bookings nearly everyday for the past couple of months, the number of domestic violence arrests in our county is sickening.
To be sure, many of Tahoe's issues, which are not unique to our region, have real consequences and need to be addressed. Depressed wages combined with high rental costs can lead to long commutes or picking up another job in addition to a full-time job, both of which contribute to sub-standard quality of life.
It's easy to be frustrated with things like long grocery lines, snow-packed roads, rowdy visitors and the like. My advice: Go for a walk by the lake next time you're feeling angry about something like this and take a deep breath. It's a better use of the energy you'd otherwise spend huffing and puffing about something trivial.
Or don't. Summer is right around the corner which means construction and traffic — plenty of first-world problems to fuel your next Facebook rant or embarrassing public tantrum.
Ryan Hoffman is editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He can be reached at 530-542-8006 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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