My mini journal of my 24 hour snow fiasco! lol #snowstorm #snowday
As a Georgia native, there have been few major snow episodes that I can remember. Every few years we’ll get a “dusting” or light snow fall, but this week’s storm is one for the storybooks. To think, I was actually excited by the idea of substantial snow fall. I left home with every intention to return their early to beat any real issues. Instead, I found myself stuck in Atlanta traffic with the other millions of commuters attempting to get home out of the weather. Instead of being in the warmth of my crib, I was literally sitting on the streets as the snowstorm invaded the city.
Leaving the office at 12:45pm, I started my commute a little amused! As I sat in traffic I captured a few pics, as the snow had already started and was accumulating pretty quickly. It appeared that everyone was trying to get home at the same time, so I already knew that my normal 40 minute commute would take a little while longer. Still I wasn’t tripping at all. I made it halfway home in about 2 hours and only had about 8 miles to get home. I had my lunch bag with me and decided to have one of my boiled eggs for some sustenance. Boy was I glad that I had taken the time to prepare them. It became apparent, after about 4 hours of progressing only about a quarter of a mile that this was going to be a little more than I expected. I got the bright idea to reroute to get further up the street and avoid the bridge. It was super frightening to venture through a local neighborhood of mansions that sat on high hills surrounding a massive lake. I crept past cars that had spun out or stalled, while neighborhood residents walked to get home, played in their front yards, or played slippery slide on the very streets for which I prayed for tread. In no time, I was back on the main highway! I had made it up past the bridge and was finally inching forward again. I was so proud of myself and super thankful to God for helping me to overcome the challenges that other motorists were not able to. I decided to have another egg. It was delicious!
Well, at least I had a car charger to keep my phone charged. I could at least communicate with people who were at home watching the news and could share any information that they had. I could communicate with my loved ones and reassure them that I was ok, but I realized that I don’t know anyone in my area that I could call to help. I watched several trucks cross over the median and drive in the opposite direction. I watched with envy as they slowly crept by, moving forward to their destination. I wondered if I should give it a shot, but had seen countless cars fail at their attempts.
Unfortunately that excitement faded as it started to get dark and I had only moved forward about a half of a mile. My heart started to pound as I noticed that my gas needle. I was astounded by the numerous motorists that pulled their cars to the side of the road and ventured to walk to their destination. I considered it for a moment, but realized that I still had about 7 miles to go and only had a light jacket, a coat, and a scarf to keep me warm. No hat, gloves, or boots to prepare me for a 7-mile walk. Besides, I was alone. I prayed for some resolution, as I felt like all of my patience was wearing thin. My logical thinking and faith kept me optimistic that there would be some resolution soon. I thought that there is no way that we would all be left here at a standstill all night with no resolution! I was relieved to hear from my sister. She had finally made it home where my niece waited alone for her. They were safe and sound. I turned off the car in an attempt to save gas, but it was so cold. My gas light was slowly starting to illuminate. I couldn’t see ahead to understand why all of the cars were at a standstill and that there was zero movement. I just sat and waited….ate my last boiled egg. I listened to music, perused facebook, Instagram, twitter, and the local news to gain some understanding of what the heck was going on; but there was nothing. My nostrils burned from the smell of exhaust. Then, 11 hours into the commute, I heard a loud voice yelling out to the crowd. I opened the door so that I could hear him. He yelled, “does anyone need a ride?” I heard him explaining to a few other folk. “I can take you up the road to Home Depot. They are allowing people to come and rest and get in from the cold. We’re going to try to redirect traffic in the other direction and you can come back later to get your car if you need gas or a jump”. It took me about 10 seconds to assess my situation….low on gas, no movement for hours, cold, lack of information regarding what’s happening up ahead, countless cars left on the road…..I’m going! I gathered my things with no idea of what to expect. Lunch bag…check, work documents…check, phone, coat, purse….check! He yelled, “just lock it up and leave it there”! I tiptoed across 3 lanes to get to the sheriff’s patty wagon, joining a diverse group of motorists. One of whom was having a birthday today. Poorthing. What a way to celebrate! We all piled in and drove past about 2 miles of motorists sitting with no movement. The place where the cars stopped was riddled with law enforcement that were literally shoveling snow from the road and manually putting down salt. I had seen several salt trucks pass, but didn’t witness them actually applying any on our road. I was happy with my decision to leave my car. No way I would have comfortably survived sitting there for much longer than I had. I was physically tired and emotionally spent. It felt so intense because there was no information about what was happening.
So we arrive at our destination around 11:30pm and the staff at Home Depot welcomed us with open arms. Several folk had arranged for someone to meet them there to pick them up. Me…well, I wasn’t so lucky. I didn’t know a single person that I could ask to come out into this weather to rescue me. I was also reluctant to get home, only to have no plan for retrieving my car from the road. So, I optimistically entered the store, found a spot in the designated patio area, put down all of my things and got comfortable. It was going to be a long night. The store staff was exceptionally warm. They looked on with genuine empathy, explaining that they would be setting up a station with coffee, hot chocolate, tea, and water. I immediately remembered that I had my lunch with me, as I never had a chance to eat lunch at work. I was directed to the staff lounge where I could heat up my food. I did, then ate my “lunch”, and surfed my phone to give my loved ones some idea of what was happening with me. The store staff also put out pizza and hot pockets, which the other “guests” enjoyed. The minutes crept by as I obsessed about how this would all end. I worried about my car and whether the roads would be addressed. I worried about how I would get back to my car and whether the roads would be travelable. I read about countless folk who were having the same issues with traffic. Many finally arrived at their destinations, some stayed at work, others got hotels, but the majority of them sat in the gridlocked traffic for hours and hours. So I stayed gracious, thankful for a warm place to rest, for warm beverages, for good company, and for Home Depot. I was only able to get about 3 hours of sleep before I awakened wondering what to do next. How the heck will I get my car? How long will I be here? The store opened to customers and I found some magazines to read. I checked out the ‘oops paint’ to see if there were colors that I could use to refresh my bathroom at home. I admired the patio furniture and studied the pest control options for every insect from roaches to mosquitos. I conversed with the staff, asking if there was like some sort of a plan for the shelter guests. He laughed and said that he had not heard of anything beyond getting us here. I chatted with the other “guests” in hopes that someone would inspire an idea. One gentleman whose car was in the parking lot, said that he was going to wait for a few hours before he headed out. Another was waiting for her hubby to come and get her. Me? Yeah. I had no plan. No options. Although Kaye, one of the Home Depot associates had mentioned that she has a van and lives in the vicinity of where I live. I pondered how to approach her to ask that she compromise her safety by helping to get me home. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Another friendly associate told me about his plan to get home, which was not exactly in my vicinity so I couldn’t ask him. I text my friend who had stayed in the city to find out his plan for getting home since he at least lives near me, but got no reply. It was looking grim. Of course I knew that this issue would resolve itself eventually, but all I wanted was to be home. I was a mere 4.9 miles from the house and couldn’t get there. It was driving me batty.
Finally one of the guests approached us as a group and asked if we wanted to compensate one of the associates to take us to our cars. I thought it was a good idea, but wondered how appropriate it was to make that request. I said that if she could get someone to agree, I was on board. So she asked the manager and he went off to discuss it with his team. He returned with his coat on, stating that he agreed to take us, as he couldn’t permit his staff to do so. He was clearly reluctant, asking questions about the whereabouts of our cars, the positioning of our cars, the conditions of the roads, etc. I told him that I would be willing to wait a while for the sun to maybe melt snow or for the roads to get some traction from other motorists. He seemed pleased with this offer, although the initiating guest seemed impatient with this idea. She said that she was bored and tired of sitting around. The truth is, I was scared. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I would find my car and whether I would be able to get access to it. However, she was determined. She found a couple who was willing to take us to our cars. I thought this was incredible considerate of her. She not only found a ride for herself but for all of us who were ready to go. I fed off of her courage and grabbed my things. I was also motivated by the manager who nudged, “take the ride!”
The couple who transported us was lovely. They were friendly and wouldn’t take any compensation for transporting us. They gave us advice about the roads, encouraging us to stay on the main road. My heart pounded as we looked for my car….and there it was sitting amongst the others right where I left it. Someone had tied police tape around the mirrors, indicating their abandonment from the storm (I guess). I thanked them all profusely and wished them all safe travels home. I arrived at my car and started it right up. It started with no problem, so I sat and allowed it to warm up before trying to get going. My sister called and I gave her a play by play of my crazy night while the car warmed up. She encouraged me to take pictures for memories. So, I did.
My heart pounded as I slowly got underway. The roads were salted but still very slick. Some parts of the road were better than others. Of course I also had to maneuver between the other abandoned cars, while noticing a car behind my slide trying to do the same. It was like a ghost town out there….a mere 4 cars trying to get to safety. I drove super slowly across the bridges, passing Home Depot, and a number of cars along the sides of the roads. Some areas were really rough and scary, but I eventually made it all the way to the house. I was so glad that I didn’t have far to go. It was scary because I was on my own. The public had been advised to not attempt to get their vehicles yet, but thankfully I had not heard that warning.
Walking into my house was THE BEST feeling. I haven’t left since. The stories on the news are remarkable. Mine is a mere example of what millions endured. Many had much worse experiences. I’ve slowly but surely felt the stress leave my shoulders. The back pain from being in the car and sleeping on a patio chair is still there though. My mind is finally coming to terms with what went down and the reality is I’m still here. I survived my fiasco.
A Crying Shame
It’s sometimes easy to take my life experiences for granted, especially in an effort to stay optimistic and live in gratitude. I’m thankful for so much. God’s mercy and grace have covered me and sustained me and kept me from harm. As a result, sometimes I’m just not super conscious of the day to day circumstances that many of my brothers and sisters face on a day to day basis. Fruitvale was today’s reminder that poverty has created this bubble that many families are unable to break through. It’s a pervasive and perpetual cycle that has poured over from generation to generation….shaping family dynamics and causing dysfunction that becomes the state of normalcy for many. In many cases leaving our beautiful black men hopeless and angry, turning to crime and drugs to help navigate their way, all while functioning in a system that on the surface ensures justice for all. Except, time after time, we see injustice for our beautiful black men.
After watching Fruitvale, once again I’m disheartened by the realities and injustices for minorities and communities that are predominantly populated by minorities. I can’t even get angry, mostly I’m just saddened. Oscar Grant, a young man with his entire life ahead of him, had is life cut short due to a snap reaction that is second nature for authorities across the county….not just in minority communities. It just leaves me to wonder why black men are perceived to be such a threat to other ethnicities. Men of other populations commit crimes, argue, express dissatisfaction; yet somehow “our” men are disproportionately brutalized, killed, and profiled. It makes me angry.
I always wanted to have boys. I always thought that somehow it would be easier to raise boys as opposed to girls (which I admit is an ignorant assumption given that I’ve never raised a kid). My logic was that girls have to work through self-esteem, self-love, and body image issues more so than guys do. However, the reality is that it’s just as frightening to raise boys in today’s society. You not only have to nurture and foster self-confidence (as well as all of the other fundamental characteristics); but there are a range of ethno-specific life skills that our babies must be taught now as well. Unfortunately, despite all of the teaching and preparing and coaching, some fools will continue to challenge young black boys simply because of what they look like and what they think black boys represent.
I sometimes cry for Trayvon at the mere fact that he didn’t get to live his life to its full potential. Just seventeen, he died terrified for his life and I can’t forget that. Oscar and countless others have had the exact same experience and it breaks my heart.