Centurian Wildlife Services

January 20, 2005

My Wednesday Commute; or, Get the Hell out of my way or I will beat you with my SHOE!

One inch of snow. One lousy, freaking inch of snow and all of Raleigh, NC shuts down. Completely. With Jacknifed tractor-trailers! Stranded school buses! Abandoned vehicles!

It took me from 2:20 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. to travel from my workplace to The Boy's daycare and then home. It is a 22 mile trip. The distance from my workplace to the daycare is 4 miles, which can be covered in about 6 minutes, even accounting for stoplights. Yesterday, it took me an hour. And here's why:

  • The light, fluffy "flurries" that accumulated on the road melted when folks drove over them and then immediately hardened into a solid sheet of ice in the 28 degree weather. Our intrepid "meteorologists" who make a living talking up the slightest little flurry into the storm of the century, somehow failed to mention any of this to the fine folks at the DOT, so there was no salt or sand on the road to melt the ice or give traction. THANKS!
  • The schools all let out early, which meant every single person in Raleigh had to suddenly hit the ice-covered roads at the same time, where they all crashed into one another and created gridlock that would make New Yorkers proud.
  • 99% of the native population seems to think that the best way to drive in ice is to gun the engine and then slam on brakes.
  • The other 1% seems to think that SUV = INVINCIBLE, and then wonders why people are shooting them the finger as they emerge from the vehicle that they rolled in the middle of the highway.
  • Tires with treads seem to be an exotic commodity for the majority of our population. It's called Just Tires, people. There's a franchise on EVERY CORNER. Maybe you should stop in sometime, you know, so that you actually stick to the road.
  • The fastest way to get where you're going is NOT to zoom up to the end of the merge lane and then try to muscle in. Because if you're trying to do it to me, I will cut you off and laugh when you land in a ditch. If you then have the gall to get mad about this, I will beat you with my shoe. A lot. And then I will steal your wallet, find your home address, go there and beat your family with my shoe for good measure. In short, do not piss off the woman toting a Juicy-Juiced toddler through wall-to-wall traffic. I have larger considerations here--like bladder capacity.

Fortunately, there were no casualties caused either by my vehicle or my shoe. My pal Feral Girl had a 6 hour odyssey, so I really shouldn't complain. And yet, I am. Complaining.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at January 20, 2005 12:16 PM

It's 57 degrees right now in Memphis.

: )

Posted by: Laura at January 20, 2005 07:29 PM

It's the snow.

For some reason, snow flurry = the moron call.

We live in upstate NY. We have snow...every damn winter. We have at least one snow storm that dumps an inch of snow per hour...every damn winter.

But for some reason, when it is snowing at the rate of one inch over several hours - like the entire afternoon - every moron in the Capital District gets the urge to climb behind their steering wheel.

No, I'm not pulling out in front of that SUV because physics dictates that two bodies cannot occupy the same space, so lay off your damn horn.

And yes, you still have to follow traffic signs and signals even tho a snowflake just hit your window, so friggin' stop when you're supposed to instead of hurrying into the FULL intersection to make it home that much faster!

OR would you please pull thru the intersection during THIS green light! I shouldn't be able to watch the grass grow in January.

And please don't roll your SUV in the median. After counting 5 in the median in less than a mile of travel, the laughing leads to a pretty sore tummy.

BAW, I feel your pain. It once took me 2 hours to go 15 miles, with 13 of those miles being on a highway with no accidents.

So that meant 15 miles of snow and slow drivers with no side-of-the-road entertainment (yes, I do have a sick sense of humor).

Posted by: di at January 20, 2005 08:08 PM

Try living in Canada... you'd think we'd be used to this by now.

P.S. you're supposed to merge into traffic at the END of the on-ramp - go read a drivers manual!

Posted by: innocent_one at January 20, 2005 09:49 PM

try having to go to the grocery store when snow or an ice storm is predicted/imminent.

I always wondered: when we get snow here, it's usually gone by noon, or at the lasest, noon on the next day. Why is it so imperative that you buy six dozen eggs and three loaves of bread?

For that matter, if it IS a serious weather matter and the power goes out (as it's been known to do in an ice storm), those eggs aren't going to be all that useful, unless your main form of electricity-free entertainment is to sit around and suck eggs.

And where I live, we don't have salt. The DOT throws down some kitty litter and prays no one gets killed when there's ice or snow.

Posted by: ricki at January 21, 2005 09:22 AM

Thanks, BAW. New Englanders love to have a good laugh at how Southerners deal with minute amounts of snow! This was a good one!

Posted by: Julianne at January 21, 2005 12:04 PM

I saw the same kinds of idiots on the roads every winter in Michigan when we had the first snow fall. Usually, most of us would either take a vacation day, or wait until after 10 am to go to work. Usually there were still some wrecks in the process of being cleared by then.

I just had a marvelous winter experience here in Texas. On Christmas eve, we got nearly 8 inches of snow overnight. Of course, farther north in Houston, people were doing the usual stupid-driver-tango, and they only had flurries and a bit of dusting. But down here on the coast, we had snow falling at around 2 inches per hour. About 11 pm, we went for a walk around the neighborhood. Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, was out and about, visiting and laughing and talking. It was a terrific night. There were a few minor wrecks - we have a lot of chemical plants in the area, and shift change was at 11 pm, so a few folks slid off the road and into ditches, but no one was hurt. The rest mostly stayed put and called their reliefs and told them to stay home and not get out in the snow.

Of course, there's no such thing as a snow plow along the Texas Gulf Coast. So Christmas day was beautiful, white, and QUIET. A few cars ventured out by late afternoon. Meanwhile, we all got to listen to the Houston TV stations going on and on, ad nauseum, about the few flurries that they got up there. Around the corner from us, about 15 miles to the west, they got over 13 inches - but nary a word from the big city broadcasters.

Of course, maybe our luck was influenced a bit by the large number of transplanted Yankees who live in this town, plus those of us Texans who have survived living in climates where frozen water falls out of the sky. But I was really proud of our community this Christmas.

Thanks, God, for the beautiful white present. We'll remember it always.

Posted by: Claire at January 21, 2005 02:35 PM

Over six hours for me for a 20 minute commute, which was frustrating in that after the first two hours I was within a few miles of my house, but the route was closed. I've never spent so long in a car in one county.

I only saw a few people driving like idiots, but that was mainly because no one could go over three miles an hour. I bristle when people laugh at Southerners who don't know how to drive in the snow. We naturally don't have the equipment or experience of those in other climes, but also the temperature is more likely to hover around freezing, which makes road conditions highly variable and unpredictable. Considering the situation, I found people to be very courteous, and I witnessed several occasions when people helped one another.

Raleigh, although a very nice place to live, has had a traffic problem in the best of weather for years and years, and it's not getting better. Wednesday was the logical result of years of crappy urban planning. And at no time on the radio did I hear any useful information other than be patient, and stay home once you get there. We were told not to use our cell phones (and they didn't work 90% of the time), but without them I wouldn't have known which streets were clear, and who knows when I would've gotten home. There was an impromptu network that arose, as people in the nearby cars shared the information they knew, along with the people who were walking on the shoulder of the road.

Having left our jetpacks at home, however, we couldn't really do much except snake along, and I had the disturbing realization that this could be how the world ends, and given the state of my bladder at a certain point, it would've been a relief.

Posted by: Brad K. at January 22, 2005 08:50 PM