Don't Eat the Snow: My Winter of Disrepair

It felt like the end of the world�or at least scene from a movie about the end of the world�people were abandoning their vehicles in the middle of traffic. They just left their cars in the road and began walking.

We had a blizzard yesterday.

At least, that’s what the news channels were calling it. Bottom line, it snowed…a lot. They warned us. By 9:am, the world was covered in a blanket of soft fluffy snow.

Schools were smart; they closed. The public education system is required by law to care about the general well-being of the student body.

Safety concerns, apparently, are something we grow out of as we hit adulthood. It goes hand in hand with giving up a rousing game of kick ball at recess and the afternoon nap.

And believe me, I miss those naps.

So while children were nestled safely at home, enjoying the miracles of nature, I was at work…

Instead of sending us home, before the highways became a death trap on ice, they rewarded us by ordering pizza for lunch.

So not only were we not going to avoid the blizzard, but my company thought it’d be fun to also endanger the life of some poor kid paying for community college by virtue of delivering pizzas.

I just sat there in my fabric lined den of despair watching the snow cover my car, the parking lot, the street…

I was wondering how long it was going to take to get home.

St. Louis doesn’t handle adverse weather conditions very well. It’s anarchy on the streets. Normal rules and laws don’t apply, and common sense goes out the window.

I’m okay in the snow. I drive carefully and celebrate four-wheel drive. I’m not worried about me.

It’s everyone else. They’re nuts.

People can barely make it from point A to B on a clear, dry, spring afternoon.

So, Corporate Charlie eventually decided that after 5 hours and 10 inches of snow, it was time to send us home. I took a deep breath, and grabbed my briefcase. I made a special point to hit the bathroom before leaving, knowing it would be a long, arduous journey home.

I bundled up and headed out into the blizzard to dig my car out of a snow drift.

Thanks to the “Great Highway Shutdown” I have but one route home; a long stretch of Page Avenue, onto a highway, then another highway, then I’m safely back in the confines of the city and my beloved zip code, far from the office parks of the county.

Usually.

This time, I essentially pulled out of one parking lot right into another. Traffic was at a standstill, with no hope in sight.

One hour brought me less than a quarter mile. Aside from the tail lights directly in front of me, and a crap load of snow falling, I could see nothing.

It felt like the end of the world…or at least a scene from a movie about the end of the world–people were abandoning their vehicles in the middle of traffic. They just left their cars in the road and began walking.

I watched one car to my right, stuck, and desperately trying to move forward, to no avail. As my truck crept forward a few feet, I thought about helping the stranded car, but that would just block more traffic, and let’s not sugar coat it, I wouldn’t be much help.

Eventually I made it to the top of a hill. I could at least see the cause of the snow-blind grid lock: At the bottom of the hill was another hill, just waiting to stop all the fuel efficient rear wheel drive cars in front of me.

I watched as every third car got stuck for about 10-15 minutes, wheels spinning, the smell of burning rubber filling the air.

Almost miraculously, they all eventually made it over the hill.

The stranded cars were occasionally broken up with delivery trucks and semis jack knifing, getting stuck at the bottom of the hill, blocking all lanes of traffic. I watched them spend close to a half hour putting chains on the tires, their curse words turning to fog as they hit the air.

I read three chapters of a book before my car moved an inch.

At one point, I opened my windows, and let it snow inside my truck, letting the harsh winter air cool my lungs. I stuck out my tongue and let a snowflake fall on it. I hadn’t done that since I was a kid. For some reason it made me feel better.

When I got home, nearly 3 hours later, I saw a news report about the large amounts of bacteria found in fresh, falling snow.

It was at that point that I really, officially hated winter.

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