My Trek Through Snowmageddon

20 Dec

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As forecast, the snow started falling just after noon. At first, it didn’t stay and I was relieved. Maybe my afternoon commute wouldn’t be that bad, I thought hopefully.

And then it stayed and my anxiety began to rise. While my students discussed their book club novels, I checked the forecast and traffic reports. None of it looked good.

Sixth grade teachers have plan at the end of the day and we were all abuzz after the kids left for their last period class. By then, I had decided to leave my car at work and take public transportation home. One of my teaching partners lives near a transit center and he offered (was coerced?) into driving me there, once we could leave.

We’d received an email outlining that buses would be late, due to snow-caused gridlock. Walkers were to be dismissed first, parent pickups second and, once they were ton, bus students were to gather in the upper forum. All teachers were to meet there and help get kids organized.  Although it seemed chaotic at first, once students were sitting and reading or using a device, it was remarkably quiet.

“Teachers, I know some of you have kids at home or long commutes. If you can stay and help, we would appreciate it, but if you need to go home, go.” I caught the eye of the my driver and we made a beeline for our rooms to get our coats.

We turned left out of the parking lot and had gone less than a mile when we saw the first flashing lights at the intersection where we would have to turn. We decided to turn around and go for Plan B. What should have been a 15 minute drive to the transit center, took over an hour. Cars crept along on snow-covered roads that were getting slippery. My colleague and I breathed a sigh of relief as, near 5:30, we took the last right that would lead us to the transit center. The scene that greeted us was disheartening. Abandoned cars faced all directions up the small hill and a truck was almost sideways. We weren’t going that way.

“Turn around and drop me at the nearest bus stop,” I told my colleague. “Get yourself home and I will catch the next bus.” After I assured him I;d text when I was on a bus, He left me off at the nearby corner that had a bus shelter. I felt good. I had a plan and the bus would have chains.

There was a woman in the shelter when I got there. She had abandoned her car a mile away but was unsure how long she’d been waiting. We talked in the way stranded travelers do, but in her calls to her family, I could sense her anxiety rising. When a man stopped at the shelter to tell us no buses were coming because of the traffic, and that he had walked from 185th ( 3.2 miles, I later Googled) she seemed to lose hope. He was walking to the Transit Center, he said, but we would be waiting a long time in the shelter.That was enough for my shelter companion. She decided to walk back to her car and try again.

I was alone. And this is where my confidence faltered.  Did the man even know what he was taking about? Should I wait? Should I walk? I  was unsure about how far it was to the transit center or the ability of my healing knee to make the trek. Turn right and walk or turn left and find shelter?   I decided to turn left and go into the grocery store across the street and regroup.

The little Starbucks area was full of others like me: watching the news on the TV on the wall and trying to figure out how to get home. I got out my phone and computer and started texting and emailing people. cabs didn’t seem to be running, but public transit was, though buses and trains were delayed.

“Adrienne, ask for help” was the advice my sister had given me when I first hurt my knee and she repeated this advice in her messages to me. And so I did. I contacted a neighbor to go to my house to feed and walk Lucy. Once I knew she was cared for, I could take care of myself. My confidence rose as my plan took shape. I would walk to my colleague’s house and take refuge there until things cleared.

When I left the grocery store, the snow had stopped falling and the traffic on this street was lighter. As I neared an intersection, the bus I needed stopped on the opposite corner. I waved, hoping the driver would see me and stop, but he didn’t.  I had a little cry as I continued my walk. Just before I arrived, I texted my friend to let him know I was close. He texted back that he was having dinner in the pub next to his apartment so I met him there.

By this time it was well after eight. School buses were still driving past the pub, but the commute seemed better. After discussing options, I decided to see if I could get an Uber to either take me home or to the nearest train. After a few jobs that were picked up then dropped, Uber driver Robert picked me up. It turns out he was a teacher in another district and we had a nice conversation as he drove me to my destination. My confidence buoyed as we made progress. I was going somewhere at last!

I had to wait about 30 minutes for a train, but once I boarded the train, at 10:20, I felt warm and more assured that I would actually make it home. The train took about an hour to get to the station nearest my house. As I mounted the stairs from the tracks, I again had a choice: left to the buses or right and walk home. I saw no buses, didn’t know if they were running or when one would come, so I turned right.

Less than a block from SE 39th, I saw a bus going my direction. Yet again, I was just a little too far away to get it. But by that point it didn’t matter. Every step was taking me closer to home. The snow had stopped and the night was cold and quiet. It was a beautiful night for a walk. I got weepy again a I rounded the corner to my street. I walked in the door and was greeted with Lucy’s usual enthusiasm and my eyes filled with tears of thanks. I dropped my bag and put on her leash to take her out for one more potty break. When we came in, the clock read midnight.

 

 

 

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12 Responses to “My Trek Through Snowmageddon”

  1. cvarsalona December 20, 2016 at 8:31 am #

    Adrienne, your snowstorm story was intriguing but I am sure not so appealing to you as you crisscrossed paths and found the best option to go home. It’s holiday time so gridlock alert is going to be high in New York City as I try to bring family there for a stroll to see the holiday sights. Stay warm.

  2. arjeha December 20, 2016 at 8:56 am #

    What an adventure. So glad you made it home even though it took forever. Lucy was glad to see you. I’m sure she was wondering where you were since you were not home at your usual time. Wishing you a Merry Christmas.

    • Adrienne December 20, 2016 at 8:59 am #

      The up side is we get 2 extra days of Winter Break. Lucy gets me home a lot for the next 2 weeks.

  3. newtreemom December 20, 2016 at 9:07 am #

    Oh, my! I was in a Portland “snowmageddon” a long time ago. We lived in an apartment and lost power. So we took a bus to a friend’s house on the outskirts of the city. We stayed there a couple of days. Here is the unbelievable part: when we arrived home, the power had come back on and the pot of ham and beans I had on the stove which I had forgotten about when we rushed away were perfectly cooked!
    Glad your story ended well, too.

    • Adrienne December 20, 2016 at 9:18 am #

      Too funny!

  4. Joanne Toft December 20, 2016 at 9:16 am #

    So glad you made it home and are safe! What an adventure! Enjoy your break!

  5. Terje December 20, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

    Scary snowy story. I am glad it had a happy ending.

  6. Karen LaBonte December 20, 2016 at 12:29 pm #

    Yowza! We followed Portland’s snowmaggedon with deep interest– our family’s out there, and we’re relocating from NY in the spring. When I told my daughter we’d decided not to sell the snow shovels, she laughed.

    When people don’t understand that you shouldn’t– can’t– drive in ice, all hell breaks loose. Plus, you have to leave quadruple the distance between vehicles and drive a zillion miles below the speed limit. But try telling that to SUV & AWD drivers, at least around here.

    We have storms in NY when no ploughs can get through & we have to drive in 6 inches & white-out conditions, so I can say with confidence that the lack of experience of PDX drivers probably was the most significant factor in the disaster-ness.

    I’m glad you made it home to your Lucy. Let’s hope the end of the year is reasonably calm weather wise. Hope your holidays are happy!

  7. terierrol December 20, 2016 at 12:37 pm #

    God bless you! Sometimes Mother Nature just wants to let us know who is boss. I am so glad to read that you did finally make it home safely. Enjoy your holidays!

  8. anita ferreri December 20, 2016 at 6:34 pm #

    OMG you describe one of those horrific commutes home that are part of the job…but not a fun part of it! I think you beat me in the category of longest commute!

  9. Brian Rozinsky December 20, 2016 at 8:00 pm #

    Whew, what an odyssey, Adrienne! In the glass is half-full department, does all that hustling through the elements mean your knee is feeling better?

    • Adrienne December 20, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

      It is a lot better! Thanks for asking.

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