The account of yesterday’s punch from Mother Nature has made the media rounds, we in DC getting a wallop, but further north…..
Left The Firm a bit earlier than usual, to try and get ahead of the storm, but by that time the roads were clogged with federal workers, released early from their jobs. A nice thought on the surface, but all it served as to instantly clog the already overburdened road system with vehicles going nowhere fast. Then the snow started to fall, if that is the right word. It fell so fast and furiously that by the time I got to the car, the roads were clogged not only with traffic, but with a slushy, mushy mixture of snow, ice and water, making progress very slow along the local roads. This would resolve itself I thought once I got off on one of the main roads, Rt. 50 west, things would improve.
How wrong I was. It was only worse; a devils brew of sorts of every increasing numbers of cars, all going nowhere with snow plow/treatment trucks stuck in the traffic, unable to do their job, creating every increasingly treacherous road surfaces, with hill negotiation, becoming more difficult, for me as well as others.
I finally gave up and pulled into a small shopping center with the idea to park the car in a safer place, sit and regroup mentally as to my options going forward. Found an Outback Steakhouse on 1st street in Arlington, whose manager and staff were very solicitous of my and the situations of others who had also come in to seek shelter. They could have kicked all of us out, but they didn’t. Great people. Called and got a overnight reservation at a small hotel about 2 miles eastward and then sat to wait for a taxi.
Was reminded of how complete strangers seem to band together in situations like this; much like when I was trapped in Canada for 3 days during a massive power outage in the northeast several years ago. interesting speaking to e greeter on duty that night too, a young woman from the Ukraine who had lived in Michigan, but found the winters too long. Thought that was an odd comment coming from her but hey, what do I know?
Gave up on the taxi and hitched a ride with a guy who had also managed to secure a room at the same hotel. Told me it was his cancer car, that it was a gift from his family for having overcome prostate cancer. What a family. The situation must have gone viral too, as son of all people called asking if I was OK. Had to cut the conversation short as the cellphone’s battery life was getting critical.
Got to the hotel, only to find my reservation did not exist. Was NOT happy about that and had to re-book again and now have to deal with the other reservation so I am not charged. Had no great expectations of the hotel, but God, the rom looked very much worse for wear, a place as a last refuge or some very tawdry, gritty tryst(and I am sure there have been a fair share of these). But it was dry, warm and had a bed.
As the cellphone’s battery was getting critically low and given when I might next need it before getting home, had the bright idea to ask if there was one that fit in the lost and found. Nope. Everything but.
Got a taxi this morning and was driven in 10 minutes the distance tat took me an hour and a half last night, the car was still there and not terribly blocked by snow. with a bit of effort, got out onto the now quite clear Rt. 50 west, passing car after car after abandoned car, not only on Rt 50, but also on the Capitol Beltway and on the main road near home. Whew!
So for a while, I could not round the corner to get into my driveway. and to top it off, another tree fell nearby, cutting off another route to home. The car is now in the driveway, but ony after quite a roundabout route.
But its all a matter of comparison; I did not spend the night in my car as many others did, was able to retrieve my car today and unlike some of my closer neighbors, I have lights and heat(one tree took out the power line).
Postscript: To illustrate there are always those less fortunate, a fellow contractor at The Firm told me it took her 5 hours just to get across and into Va, one of the short bridges that span the Potomac. Another story from another contractor, stuck on I-270 looked over at a cab with a passenger, the meter reading $100.00 and counting. Some of the contractors couldn’t even make it out of DC!
And last a bit of back-handed commiseration for yet another contractor, from Chicago, who has needled we locals on how we can’t handle snow, that this week’s storm ‘was a pretty decent snow storm’.
Lessons learned? One look real hard before setting out; think out all other options. Get 2 true winter tires for the drive wheels in the future. Carry a snow shovel in the trunk as well as the proverbial container of cat litter.