Brings Back Memories

I have been home from work the last 3 days.  Why?  Because of our 2nd “snow storm”, which started with light rain on Tuesday, turned to ice during the day or Wednesday, and snow on Wednesday night.  Temperatures have finally gotten above freezing and the snow is melting fast.  But before it had the opportunity to do so, i got out the snow blower and took care of the driveway.  Speaking of the snow blower, I have had 3 people ask about since our storms but I didn’t bother with the first two inquiries because they happened on the day of the storm (the second offering me $100 less than I asked) and the 3rd inquiry didn’t leave contact info.  Not too bright.  It looks like tomorrow, which i was originally going to take off, we will be back at the office.  Many folks are in Vegas for the annual sales meeting, conveniently avoiding this mess.

As I said, this is the second storm that hit us and while it was more serious, it’s the first one I will never forget.  it was a little different than my typical day in that I started early so I could use our workout facility.  This is key because these clothes will come in handy later.  Much later.  We all knew snow was coming, and I knew it was going to cause traffic congestion.  Julie contacted me around 10 to say it was snowing there and about 30 minutes later she said it was pretty heavy.  Interestingly enough, we had NO snow falling at the office. I wanted to leave BEFORE it started, and at noon I wrote to my boss to ask if people were going to start leaving.  Instead, we got to talking about how I was from Iowa and could drive in it.  That was never the issue.  The issue was how would everyone else respond.  I didn’t want to find out, but I decided I would follow her lead and wait for the company to officially dismiss us.  That never happened.

Viraj took off around noon as I had planned and it wasn’t until about 10 minutes to one that I received an e-mail from my boss that she was having everyone leave. I looked outside and the snow was now coming down fairly heavy. I packed up quickly, hit the restroom, and then it was down to the 3rd level of the parking garage.  I never park on 3, but did that day because I was using the gym.  i don’t know how much worse it made things, but I found myself in a line going down to six and waited about 15 minutes outside the elevators on 6th before giving up and going back inside.  I wasn’t the only one.  I actually followed a coworker’s lead.

I tried to work but I kept looking outside, thinking that the traffic mess was due to everyone trying to get out at the same time.  The reason why the garage was not moving is the road outside the garage (NOT typically a busy road) was totally congested.  I kept talking to coworkers, asking when they would be leaving.  Around 3pm, the other Paul decided to brave it. I believe he was driving toward the city.  I couldn’t take it anymore around 4pm so I decided to go.  I didn’t want to wait until rush hour, and effectively (and stupidly), I did.

The garage had cleared out and I made a right out of the garage because I had planned to take the highway.  When I was inside, I noticed 285 was moving much better than the side roads.  But I didn’t like the backup going right, so I winged it around and went left.  It was a lose-lose situation.  No one was really making a left at the light, but once I did, I found we weren’t moving.  Still, I called Julie to tell her my 45 minute commute was going to be more like 2 hours.  Boy was I delusional.

It took me an hour to get to the highway entrance, so it was around 5pm now….officially rush hour in most cities.  The highway was no longer moving like what I witnessed from my 18th floor window.  In fact, it wasn’t moving at all.  I inched down the highway, averaging about a mile each hour.  Julie kept calling asking me where I was.  She didn’t seem to understand me when I told her I could literally see the same things as I did when she called me previously.  I was moving so slow that I started reading a book on my phone.  Then things got really crazy when I witnessed semis getting stuck on ice right in the middle of the highway.  Uh oh.

I wanted off as soon as possible, and that meant the Roswell Road exit.  The thought of going down Riverside on ice scared me to death.  Riverside is more twisty than most mountain roads, plus very hilly.  When I finally reached the exit, it was a mess because people were trying to get on from 400 south.  I managed to get over and get off, though I had to make a right in a left turn lane at the exit because no one would let me get over.  Of course, we weren’t moving fast enough to really make a move, so I can’t blame the drivers to much.  By now it was dark…..right around 9pm.  Things were just getting crazier as I saw a ton of rescue vehicles (police, fire trucks) racing up and down Roswell, plus at the exit on 285.

It took me yet another hour to get to the light at Johnson Ferry.  I decided it was time to stop and take the pee I had been holding ever since I left.  How I held it this long was beyond me.  Plus, I figured I could grab a bite at Wendy’s.  I passed the parking lot to Wendy’s but pulled into the building next door and walked across. That’s when another motorist who had been on the road since 1pm told me it was closed.  Great.  But she reminded me I was a man and could go anywhere.  I went behind some bushes on one end of the parking lot and it was one of the longest pees I ever took.  Sweet relief.

Yet another transpired when I reached the intersection of Johnson Ferry and Abernathy, only to find out that the bridge into Cobb County was closed.  I should add that I had been checking the radio for information but was getting nothing but music!  And I don’t want radio music.  Frustrating.  The other thing I should add is Julie had been trying to feed me information, but mentioned nothing about this.  As I approached the lone cop who was giving us this information car by car (!), my phone went dead.  So what now?  How do I tell Julie that I just got the worst news of the night and have no idea if I can get home.  My options were to park the car and walk home (7 miles or so in below zero temperatures) at 11pm or hang a right and take Roswell Road north, which was a roundabout way, but would eventually get me there.  I ask the cop, “Is traffic heavy on Roswell?” “Oh yeah”,  he replies.

He was right.  It was no different than any other road.  Yet, I kept thinking that this late at night, most people had to be home, right?

I sat in the car inching away and it got to be about 2:30 in the morning.  I stopped at a Chevron and borrowed the owner’s phone to call Julie.  She was a bit freaked out.  I wasn’t all that tired and wanted to continue.  She wanted me to go to a shelter, but I knew I was still going to have to make the drive on ice the next morning.  Plus, I really didn’t know where a shelter was.  Later, I would pass restaurants that traditionally would be closed but remained open for the stranded drivers.   But I pressed on.

It had to be around 4:00am when I reached the part of Roswell Road that goes uphill and is essentially two lanes with a lane that can change direction in the middle.  The passage into this part of the road was littered with cars and a bus, pointed in all directions.  Would I be able to drive it?  To my amazement, I drove it with no problem at all.  And there was no traffic! Where did everyone go??  But up ahead, I smelled trouble.  There was a car going much too slow and the middle lane for some unknown reason was closed for traffic going south.  NO ONE was going south….all night!  In fact, I think the police should have opened a lane on the other side to ease traffic but never did. Perhaps it was too icy.

When I turned left onto the other Roswell Road, I was greeted with a ton more cars.  It probably took an hour to get down to the bottom of the hill, and that’s where I got greedy.  I made a right turn onto Wileo and planned to take backroads the rest of the way.  I was moving just fine, but unfortunately, a white cargo van was two cars ahead of me and got stuck.  A bunch of guys got out of the their cars (including me) and tried to help him go. It was ridiculous; they were putting boxes and floor mats under the tires and jumping on the back, trying to get him up the road.  But we could only do this so far and the road was pretty long.  There was really only one option for this turkey: pull over.  He finally did.  When I got back in my car, the car ahead of me took off just fine….and I got stuck.  I had to pull over and let everyone go by, which took awhile as others got stuck.  I kind of got an offer from someone to take me close to where I lived, but I declined and stayed with the car.  When everyone passed, I turned around and went back the way I came.   Another hour lost.

I almost lost control of the vehicle going down Wileo, but managed to get onto Roswell Road.  I realized we weren’t moving at all on Roswell, and on the other side of the median I saw cars driving AGAINST traffic. Of course, there really was no traffic.  I threw the car in reverse, passed about 6 cars, and got on the other side before anyone trapped me in.  We zoomed (relatively) up the other side of the road and I saw two cars were stuck and blocking all the traffic.  I would have never gotten through.  When I came upon an area I could move back to the lanes going in the right direction, I did.  Mistake.  It was a total sheet of ice and it was mostly downhill.  I couldn’t see any of the white lines.  It was the most panicked I got all night, hoping no one would come near me as there is always some dipsy doodle that wants to pass.  I survived, and once again got cute.

I turned onto Bishop Lakes Rd, another twisty road we take to go to church.  Unfortunately, someone else turned in front of me and again was going TOO slow.  I actually passed him on the right (a turn lane into the church) and then though that if I didn’t make it down the first hill without going off the road, I was going to be a huge fool.  I made it just fine, made a right turn on Chimney Springs Rd (I think that’s what it is called) and noticed cars parked on both sides of the road up ahead.  I was forced to slow down just a bit because one of the cars was either parking or pulling out.  That hesitation cost me.  I did not have enough speed to make it up the hill.  Close, but no cigar.  I backed it up, parked the car in front of someone’s house, and started changing me clothes for the walk home.  I found out the same thing happened to the other car.  Someone came out of her house and was offering to help us get our cars out with sand she had at the house, but we were both beat and just wanted to get home.  I have a feeling she just didn’t want these strange cars on her neighborhood street.  Too bad.

I walked with this other guy, whose name I never got.  He let me borrow his cell phone to call home.  He lived in the subdivision across the street from me, so we were together most of the way.  It is likely I would have just gotten stuck on Oak Ln anyway, which was a sheet of ice.  It was about a one mile walk from the car and I had no hat that covered my ears, just a baseball cap.  When I crossed over Johnson Ferry, it was like I was the last person on Earth.  Not a sound.  No cars.

I walked in and just wanted to sit in front of the fire.  Julie wanted me to tell her about everything that had happened, but my sister called at the same time, which frustrated me.  I would talk to everyone late.  I logged into my computer to find out that work was closed.  No surprise.  Everyone in the department was talking about how long it took to get home, as Candace wanted to know if everyone was safe.  A prize was going to the person with the longest commute.  Officially 16 hours.  No one was going to beat that.  However, one person did end up staying overnight at a barber shop very close to where I passed around midnight.  How weird it would have been if I had stopped there too.

I was so would up, but eventually fell right to sleep when I laid down around 10:30am.  I only slept until around 2pm.  What an adventure.  This was something I would never forget, and hopefully never have to relive.  If ever they call for snow in the forecast again, I will not go into work.  The office ended up being closed for the next 3 days.  Gotta love it.



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