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An Open Letter to the Person Who Keeps Blowing Up Our Phones About the Weather

Bureaucrat. Chill. 


Dear Emergency Management Bureaucrat Person,

We have a small bone to pick with you. When our cell phone buzzes at 4:14 PM on the Thursday before Christmas, the only thing we want to see is a text from our aunt telling us we don’t have to bring the green bean casserole after all. So you can imagine our disappointment when we received a text yesterday from the AlertSF Notification System informing us that, get ready for it, the weather was kinda cold.

Hey, whoever sent that text: We get it, you’re just doing your job. You're probably a great person. But, c'mon really?

Here was the message:

“Cold Weather Notice: The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures in the mid 30s in much of San Francisco overnight & into tomorrow morning. If you have to be outside be sure to bundle up & dress appropriately for the weather. Don’t forget to bring pets insides [sic]. San Francisco’s Homeless Outreach Team is reaching out to unsheltered residents to help get them indoors. If you see someone in need of shelter, please call 3-1-1. If someone is having a medical emergency call 9-1-1.”

Now, we’re all in favor of helping unsheltered residents get indoors. But you know what we actually don’t need the city government to tell us? To dress appropriately.

Look, we voted for Bernie Sanders. We like the nanny state as much as anyone likes the nanny state. But this is ridiculous. We don’t actually need the government to text us a reminder to put a jacket when it’s cold. We have a mother for that.

This is the same system that, by the way, blew up San Franciscans’ cell phones in late September to tell us that, get ready for it, the weather was hot. True story, we were walking down the street near Union Square, thinking, wow it’s fairly hot today (it was 85 degrees), when our phone went off with an EMERGENCY FREAKING ALERT telling us it was hot. We did not need a text telling us to drink water. As grown adults, we’ve got this covered. Again, it was 85 degrees out. We can roll up our sleeves without you.

While the fires were burning in the North Bay, whoever runs the system texted us to let us know that a moderate amount of “ash and smoke” was in the air. That one was more reasonable, since even trace amounts of ash and smoke can be harmful for people with heart and lung diseases. But, this was on a Yellow Alert moderate-air day, not a Red Alert day. And PS, we have noses. And know how to look outside. Did the entire city need a push message telling us to not breathe too much?

We're not against all of these notifications. We can live with Amber Alerts for missing children. Emergency messages telling us to evacuate from fast-moving wildfires. Or informing us to avoid areas of ongoing police activity. If the North Koreans lob a Taepodong tipped with a nuclear warhead at the Salesforce building, cool, we'd appreciate a text. If the Big One is coming, go ahead and hit us. If the Truffle Guy is about to run out of his stash, same.

Do we need one reminding us to bring our pets “insides” because of the cold? No. 

Because, it’s San Francisco, not Vermont. We’re going to make it through this together. We own sweatshirts. It's just a 40-degree day. You know what they say about a 40-degree day? Ain't nobody got nothing to say about a 40 degree day.

San Francisco


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