Through snow and sleet, some businesses brave opening

Telegraph staffJanuary 29, 2014 

A taxi driver picked up a cup of coffee and $10 worth of gasoline about noon Wednesday at the Circle K station on Riverside Drive and Pierce Avenue.

He wasn’t sure if he would have to work and was waiting to hear from his company, Yellow Cab of Macon.

He looked out at Riverside Drive and saw a few people in cars braving the snow and ice. His own sported a layer of white on its roof, grille and trunk.

“People are starting to get along a little bit,” he said.

Business along Riverside Drive and other midstate commercial areas was slower than usual Wednesday, with many stores and offices closed due to the winter storm. Still, some working men and women did not have the luxury of a day off to play in the snow. They had people to serve.

Mail was delivered across the midstate, although it’s possible there were delays, given road conditions.

“The situation in general is that if there is mail and we can safely get it to the mailboxes, we are making the attempt to do that,” said Stephen Seewoester, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service.

The Waffle House Index

Customers lined the front counter and filled most tables all day Wednesday at the Waffle House on Riverside Drive near Pierce Avenue, said Shaunice Jones, a waitress.

Several of her co-workers who take Macon Transit Authority buses to work were left without a ride in the morning, but her district manager went out with his pickup and picked them up at their homes.

Cedric Finch returned to the restaurant with the fourth employee he picked up about 12:30 p.m. Shortly after arriving, he was outside the restaurant clearing the sidewalk with a shovel.

“We gotta take care of our customers,” Finch said. “Somebody’s got to feed the people.”

That area Waffle House locations are open shouldn’t surprise anybody as the restaurant has earned a reputation for staying open and reopening quickly after weather emergencies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency informally measures the level of an emergency by whether area Waffle Houses are open.

If a Waffle House is closed, an area really needs help, said Brent Henson, unit manager at the Watson Boulevard location in Warner Robins.

Along other parts of Watson Boulevard, most fast-food restaurants were open for regular breakfast business, but Wilson’s Bakery appeared shuttered. Used car dealers were closed, their windows covered in white snow, but auto parts dealers seemed to be doing steady business.

Tuesday night, Scott Peterman’s Circle Ace Hardware in Warner Robins was busy with people buying kerosene heaters, kerosene and flashlight batteries -- everything to stay comfortable if a bad storm hit or the power went out. On Wednesday, business was very slow, with his few customers mostly looking for ways to melt their ice.

“I got some salt in last night, and I’ve got two 10-pound bags left,” he said.

Back on Riverside Drive in Macon, Quality Computer Systems was the only store in its shopping plaza open for business.

Because customers depend on the store for computer support, not opening Wednesday was not an option, owner Brad Spiegel said.

Spiegel said he was thankful the bridges were well sanded and salted along his commute.

‘Ain’t got no business on the road’

A short drive north at 20’s Pub & Subs, a few grizzled older men sat around a TV discussing snowfall accumulation.

The sports bar is open 365 days per year, owner Ben Dickson said.

One customer, Thomas Carmichael, of Lizella, drove 15 miles to pick up two orders of the bar’s “Ding Dang Shrimp,” which is shrimp on lettuce marinated with a Thai chili glaze.

“They’ve got the best shrimp in town,” Carmichael said.

Self-employed, Carmichael gave himself the day to play around in the snow with his children.

“We had fun. We’ve been four-wheeling all day,” Carmichael said, “making snowmen, throwing snowballs at each other,”

He also was a good Samaritan, pulling a stuck vehicle free near his farm by the Tobesofkee duck pond.

“It’s nasty out that way,” he said. “The roads are still covered in ice and snow. If you ain’t got a four-wheel drive, you ain’t got no business on the road.”

To contact writer Andres David Lopez, call 744-4382.

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