Saturday, January 21, 2006

Oh, the Weather Outside...

OK, sorry about the potty mouth before. Usually I don't blog to emote, but last night I had the worst snowstorm driving experience of my life. I have a 20-mile commute, and it usually goes fine, even in bad weather. 30 minutes is my best time, and when traffic is bad, it might get to 45 minutes.

Last night I walked out the door at work at about 6:05, and didn't walk in the door at my house until 10:25.

There's a long two-lane road (a main artery, not a dirt road or anything like that) with a bunch of ups and downs near my work that I have to travel for about 10 miles on my way home. I turned the corner onto this road, and in a couple of minutes I came upon heavy traffic backup as far as the eye could see. I probably went 100 yards in 45 minutes. Then, the cops were waving drivers off to the left onto a country road that I had never been on before. I'm like "great." So I followed a bunch of cars along through unfamiliar territory until I ended up turning on to where I thought would bring me back to where I wanted to go. Before I was able to do that, I spent another 45 minuted waiting in a long line behind a trailer truck that got stuck somehow, in back of a car full of teenagers who thought it would be funny to throw snowballs at all the cars coming the other way.

So I finally get past all that and on to the main stretch of road that I wanted. I had been planning to go over to meet my ♥GF♥ at the house of some friends of hers for whom she was dog-sitting so that I could get the key to let the doggie out Sat. afternoon so that she could go help her other friends do something. I got down (driving slowly, of course) without much incident to the town next to mine, and I had to pull over to knock the snow off of my back windshield, because even though I had cleaned everything off before I left, all the snow that had accumulated on the roof decided to slide back onto my back windshield so that I was totally blind in my rear view. The snowfall had picked up at that point so that even if you got out and cleared your windows off, they'd be totally covered less than five minutes later.

I had half of a bottle of water left over from work and 2/3 of a bagel that I bought Wednesday that I hadn't eaten and that I had left in my car; This was dinner.

So when I got into town, heading in the general direction of my ♥GF♥'s friends' house, I came upon another traffic backup at a medium-sized intersection. In all of this there was nothing but confusion. Were people stuck in snowbanks? Were there actual accidents? Couldn't tell you. But after I sat in this particular clog for about 45 minutes or so, traffic had started inching forward. Lanes were irrelevant. I could see police cars with flashing lights pulled off to the side up ahead. Some genius started waving cars into the left side of the road, and in the darkness and confusion I thought he was a cop. Guess what? He wasn't a cop. This became evident after the real cops came over and told him to quit, but by that time I had moved out of the inch-by-inch travel of the regular lanes and got stuck in the middle of the road, halfway sticking out into what should be the oncoming lanes, totally stuck (with about ten other cars in the same predicament, on top of the hundreds that were backed up in some other manner in the same incident). This whole time, I was probably a mile and a half from the friends' house in one direction and a mile and a half from my house in the other.

Then the ambulance came. Oh my God, I can't remember the last time I felt so horribly powerless. I was envisioning the medics pulling a baby out of a rolled-over car or something, en route to the hospital, stuck behind all this parking lot, with me in the wrong lane and unable to move. Keep in mind that everyone was blind, except for their front windshield view and driver or passenger window view, if those windows were rolled down. It was horrible. Not-a-cop Genius started trying to direct things again, but the real cops went over and told him to knock it off. (Direct quote: "Do me a favor. Don't help anymore.") After what seemed like an eternity, I got my car into another lane, and managed to get it through the intersection, and made it down to the next intersection, where I saw a much smaller bunch of people (nowhere near as many as before) who were trying to push some cars out of the snow. I told them they did not want to go that way (i.e., the intersection from which I had just come) and I realized that I was quoting the guy from the beginning of the Dawn of the Dead remake. As I was sitting at that intersection, waiting, I saw the ambulance finally come through behind me and make the turn it needed to to get to the hospital.

So I made the turn to go towards my house. (I must have called my ♥GF♥ a dozen times to give her updates and/or release frustration, and I rarely make frustration-release calls) and I made it (slowly but surely) to my street. As I turned into my side street (this was at about 9:40) there was a guy stuck in the middle of the street. I was three houses away from home! Once on Lost in Space they almost made it back to Earth, and were able to see it, but couldn't reach it.

One of my best friends lives on my street. In a demonstration of why he is one of my best friends, he came out and spent 45 minutes helping the other guy get unstuck, helping me get unstuck from the area in which I had been stuck trying to get out of the other guy's way, and helping me hand shovel out a spot in my driveway to put the car, even though he had to get up early and go to work the next day (i.e. today).

So, after four hours of nerve-wracking, hazardous commuting (I was surprised I didn't have to fight the Cyclops, though I felt like I did have to negotiate Scylla and Charybdis several times) I made it home, soaking wet, cold, hungry, grouchy. I know that there are all sorts of things that could have gone wrong that didn't; I didn't go into a ditch, my car didn't get smashed up, I wasn't in the ambulance. But I was still as happy to see my house as I have ever been.

Dammit, I wish I hadn't left my house keys on my desk at work.