When it comes to clearing blacktop after a Snowstorm of Historic Proportions, the capitalistic motive far outpaces the communal state’s mandate.

At 10 a.m. Sunday, I ventured out in my Subaru, laden down with a week full of errands and the prospect of several days without school for my kids.  Even though two feet of snow blanketed the area the day before, shopping center parking lots were cleared and stores in suburban Baltimore open. Yet only one snow emergency route, York Road, was plowed and salted—all other roadways still sheathed in white.

In my big snow boots, which make a satisfying ‘I’m tough’ clunking sound when I walk, I entered Michael’s arts and craft store. It was clean and bright and full of distracting toys and things to do when snowbound and stir crazy.

“I can’t believe you’re open today,” I told a clerk.

“I can’t believe we are either,” she said.

Everywhere I went there was parking lot blacktop—valleys surrounded by mountains of snow that had been pushed back overnight by private bulldozers and front end loaders: Mars grocery store, Bank of America, Best Buy, Amoco gas station, Graul’s grocery, Staples—all were ready for business.

“Thank you for being open,” I told store managers.

“Thank you for coming in,” they said.

Even today, Monday, the federal government closed in Washington, D.C.

But the Dollar Tree is open.


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