After one of the biggest ice storms to ever hit the South, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson graciously invited the cities of Mobile, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville and Montgomery to come up and stay the weekend at his historic retreat near Jackson, Ala. Stimpson had invited their mayors up to “Camp Sandy,” as Mobile affectionately called it, a few weeks earlier and said it was an “enlightening” experience, so he hoped it would give the cities a chance to relax, thaw out and exchange ideas after Snowmageddon/Winter Storm Leon 2014.
“Y’all come on in,” Mobile said as she opened the door to her mayor’s family lodge. She had to admit she really liked the sound of “family lodge” a lot.
Birmingham, Mobile’s longtime rival and frenemy, paused after she walked in and said as she surveyed the place, “Well, well, well, Mo. This is pretty swank. Did Marine One bring you here too?”
“Oh Ham, what’s that I see on your face? I think it may be a little drool,” she teased as she pretended to wipe it off Birmingham’s face.
As the cities got settled in their rooms, Mobile poured them all bourbons neat. It had been that kind of week. The cities one by one made their way back into the great room, grabbed their toddies and made themselves comfortable.
After a little small talk, Ham finally brought up what had all been on their minds.
“I’m just going to say it,” Ham said. “Last week. Holy Sleet! We did not see that one coming.”
“I know, right,” Montgomery commiserated. “A light dusting, my ice.”
“We’re catching so much hell from the media. Alll these talking heads can shift the blame to our officials all they want, but my mayor said the National Weather Service told him all we were supposed to get was a little snow and no ice,” Ham said.
The cities all nodded in agreement.
“Same with us, Ham, though I was pretty impressed with how my people reacted on the fly to the situation when it did change,” Montgomery said. “We didn’t have any significant problems because we had plans in place to react to this kind of storm and we implemented them. And my mayor doesn’t micro-manage like some do. He lets department heads make decisions and that helped a lot. I think our handling of it was exemplary.”
Mobile added, “We were supposed to be the ones who really got hit, so I think we were maybe even a little over-prepared or as my mayor kept saying, we acted in an ‘overabundance of caution.’ But yeah, other than a few 18-wheelers blocking our tunnel and other traffic situations we fared pretty well too. I mean, nothing like Ham and Atlanta had to deal with.”
Birmingham, per usual, was getting a little aggravated with her fellow Alabama cities.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know y’all were all just sooooo prepared with your little plans and your ‘overabundance of caution’ That’s really precious,” Ham mocked. “But y’all didn’t get nearly the amount of precipitation I did, and again we were told we weren’t supposed to get much of anything. Like my mayor said, maybe next time we’ll whip out our crystal ball so we can plan better. I think it may be more useful than those yahoos at the National Weather Service.”
Huntsville tried to find a silver lining.
“My heart just broke for all of your people stranded on 280 and all those poor kids and parents who spent the night away from each other, not to mention the teachers,” Huntsville said to Ham. “But I guess you just have to look at this as a learning experience so you can make sure your citizens never have to go through something like that again.”
“You should really consider formulating a plan, Ham. We used large garbage trucks. Their weight breaks up the ice,” Montgomery said.
Birmingham’s aggravation was turning into straight-up rage. She finished off her first bourbon and motioned for Mobile to refill her glass.
“It was a crazy mess and we’re embarrassed,” the state’s largest city said defensively. “But look, I’m bigger than all you bitches and have municipalities around me that I have no control over. We had way more to deal with than all of you combined, so I really just don’t want to hear it. And since we are at ‘Camp Sandy’ why don’t we sign some sort of accord saying we are not going to talk about this sleet anymore for the rest of the weekend.”
Birmingham slammed her second bourbon, threw her glass across the room and punched a mounted 10-point deer on the wall in its face.
An awkward silence fell across the room until Tuscaloosa (Denny)-chimed in. “Well, did any of y’all see the pictures of Bryant-Denny covered in snow? It sure was a thing of beauty.”
All the cities nodded and smiled, as Tuscaloosa added a gratuitous “Roll Tide,” which prompted some eye rolling from the rest of the municipalities.
“College towns,” one city muttered under her breath. “Wonder why Mobile even invited her.”
Just then, they heard a knock on the door.
Mobile made her way to the grand entrance of her family lodge (Gosh, she liked the sound of that). She opened the door and asked, “Can I help you?
“Heeeeey Girls. We haven’t met before, but I’m Jackson. I heard y’all were meetin’ out here and I figured since y’all were havin’ this in my backyard, my invite surely must have just gotten lost in the mail, with this bad weather and all. I mean it would be rude not to invite me to somethin’ bein’ held in my own city,” Jackson said with a smile.
“Um, yes, of course. I’m sure that is exactly happened to your invitation. Please do come on in,” Mobile said.
“Well, thank you Mobile,” Jackson said. “I sure do want to welcome y’all up here to our little Pine City. I know it ain’t as big and fancy as all y’all’s. But we’re pretty darn proud. And we’ve got the best people around. Whatchall been up to so far?”
“Oh, we just finished up talking about the ice storm and how we all handled it,” Montgomery said.
“Oh Good Lord. Don’t I know it? Don’t I know it?” Jackson said. “My roads were slipperier than an eel’s asshole in a bucket of snot.”
Mobile winced at her new friend’s description, though she imagined it was quite apt. “Can I offer you a drink, Jackson?”
As Mobile began pouring a bourbon in one of the family lodge’s nice glasses. Jackson interrupted, “Ah, no honey, don’t mess your pretty little glass up. Just put it in here,” she said as she handed her a Solo cup out of her purse.
“But you know,” she said as she quickly emptied the Solo. “We ended up closin’ the whole city down and things went pretty darn good, if I say so myself.”
“Oh I’m sure you just handled it fabulously, “ Birmingham said bitterly. “Did you follow your little plan to keep all five of your people safe?”
“Don’t mind her,” Huntsville said. “Ham’s just a little upset things didn’t go as well as they could have for her.”
“Well bless your little iron heart,” Jackson said to the big bitter burg. “But I can totally relate. They closed down our Walmart AND the Mexican restaurant!!! Plus, we had to put up with all those news folks from Mobile invading us. Funny, how we never see ‘em ever unless we’re gettin’ a wintry mix. Or if they’re breakin’ up hog doggin’ rings. But that’s a whole other story.”
“Hog dogging?” Huntsville asked.
“Oh girl, just Google it,” Jackson said as she made her way around the room.
“Now I don’t believe we’ve met?” Jackson said as she extended her hand to Tuscaloosa, who introduced herself to their newest guest.
“Oh hey girl. That cute little mayor of yours is just precious, If you need me to take him under the Tombigbee bridge and teach him a thing or two about city government, you just let me know,” Jackson giggled.
An awkward silence fell over the room.
Tuscaloosa looked stunned but eventually (Denny) chimed in sheepishly, “Roll Tide.”
Birmingham got up and kicked a mounted bobcat in its stomach, as Jackson guffawed. “You know that thing’s dead already, right?”
It was going to be a long weekend at Camp Sandy, Mobile thought. But a bad weekend at the family lodge was still a pretty good one.