The WORST Car Commute Ever

Well here we are, the week before Thanksgiving.  I’ve been telling a lot of stories about WSU lately, but I thought it was time to talk about something different.  it’s turned butt biting cold here all of a sudden.  Tonight with get down into the 20s.  (OK I know, for you Midwesterners and east coasters, that aint really cold, but for us its COLD!)

Luckily for us, with the cold came clear skies.  Snow is a relative rarity around here, due to many reasons I won’t get into.  I say luckily because this town does NOT do well when the snow flies. an inch or two can shut down the whole city! (This is no exaggeration)

I bring this up because this is the 3 year anniversary of the worst commute ever.  Yes, during the day the snow started coming down in Seattle….

Now at the time, I was working in Renton, about 30 miles from my house.  I had just started at the Holy P in September of 2010, so I had almost been there 2 months.  The weathermen were calling for the potential of snow, and for once, I was believing them.

Editors note:  Our weathermen have 2 annoying habits.  They like to predict big wind and snow.  8 times out of 10, they are incorrect on both counts.  This means people don’t listen to them all the time.  I’ve gotten pretty good over the years in determining when each is coming.  This time it just smelled like snow.

 I’ve learned over the years that one of the keys to making it home in snow around here is a full tank of gas.  So at noon, I snuck out, and topped that puppy off, as well as filled the washer fluid.  All day Michelle was emailing me telling me get out of there and head home.

Now if I’da still been at PEMCO with almost 20 years experience, I would’ve baled.  But at the Holy P with only 7 weeks of experience, and no one else leaving, I didn’t want to be the first.  It looks bad when you are still trying to make a good impression.  However, at 3, when I saw the he snow start, I was OUT!

I hit the road, and jumped on I-5 and made a beeline north it took me all of 11 minutes, to hit downtown Seattle (11 miles away) and spot the Convention Center.  By then the snow was coming down hard.  Even though it was snowing, I want to point out the roads were bare and wet.

Traffic was stopped.  Dead Stopped!  We here in Seattle have a 4 mile set of reversible lanes called the express lanes.  The are open for northbound travel in the afternoon and southbound in the morning,  This helps minimize traffic issues during rush hour.  I was going north, and ready to jump in them, when I saw the sign “Express Lanes Closed!”

I thought at the time “WHo’s stupid idea was this!” Now, three years after the commute, I still swear I will punch the person (male or female) in the mouth if I ever meet the one who made this decision.  thsi person thought it would just be better to close the express lanes!

Without these lanes, we were not moving.  No stretch of the truth here.  It took me HOURS to get from the sight of the convention center (maybe a mile way) to it.  Meanwhile the bare and wet pavement, was not compact snow and ice, and it was STILL coming down.

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To make matters worse, ahead of me, buses were spinning out, cars were running out of gas, exits were blocked with cars and people were simply leaving their cars and walking off the road.

Now, after hours of being in the car, sometimes you have to GO.  Well this was no exception, to coin my  late father, my back teeth were floating and I was seeing yellow.  Yep I had to pee!  Luckily, I was addicted to Diet Mountain Dew back then, and on the back floor were a few empty bottles….

Yes much to my wife’s chagrin, I used these bottles to take care of the emergency….  More than once that night.  This commute, 26 miles, one that normally took 45 minutes on a good day took 8.5 hours.

I passed busloads of people who looked miserable, newer cars than mine left in the middle of the road. My 97 Ford Escort (manual transmission of course) blazed right through it.  3 miles north of the convention center, I passed the last obstruction.  This was at 1100 PM.  I was able to get the speed up to 30 after that and FLEW home.  I was home at 1130, 8.5 hours later.

I was exhausted…  I opened the fridge and ate something, no memory what, but the only beer was crappy Coors that someone had left here.  I had 2.

Luckily, by that time, I had accrued one PTO day, and I took it the next day, NO way I was getting on the road.  And a month later, I saw a small flurry out my window, I bolted from the office!  Who cares that it had stopped before I hit the freeway…  I still went home.

I am seriously hoping for no snow this year.  I love it in the mountains

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but HATE it down here!  Though, to this day, I keep a DMD bottle in the back seat JUST in case!

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