notes from the commute: surprise storm edition
Well, people (and especially Scot), I realize I've been incommunicado. And I realize that some of you (mostly Scot, I think) may be aware that my general vicinity (which is definitely an island) (in the South Pacific, for new readers) was hit by a tremendous and sudden storm. And those people (and definitely Scot) were a bit worried about me.
I can't decide which is better...
We are/I am fine.
But, oh, do I have a story...(if only there could be music, just at this point - but I'll tell you, I've tried and not been able to crack the whole music embedding thing.)
I left the office at 5:00 after a truly tedious day. I had shuffled my poor boss from one meeting to another from 9:00 till 3:00 when I put him in a car for the airport. It was stressful but off he went. Paris. On a 6:45 flight.
So, as I was saying: left the office, feeling sort of washed out, arrived on the street and had a quick look skyward. (I had known that rain and a possible thunderstorm was expected. I did not have my umbrella.) I decided, whilst walking the block to the corner, that the greenish tinge in the sky demanded a ride on the subway rather than my usual 15 block jaunt to the train and proceeded underground during the first rumble of thunder.
A train arrived pretty quickly and I rode it three stops and exited (still underground).
I got a seat on the 5:27 and settled in.
I was surprised when I noticed the fellow sitting behind me and to the right was completely soaked.
(Too much detail at this point? I ought to rein it in, don't you think? But it's a long story and I could post it and not post tomorrow!)
The couple sitting across the aisle from me were going to my town to see his parents. She was doing her make-up, snapping her gum and chatting loudly. This caused me to reach for my puzzle and iPod.
The train left the station on time.
We moved slowly through the tunnel (the first 5 minutes of my commute is underground).
We suddenly stopped.
There was much convo between the conductor and the motorman (?).
We were told: a. There was a lightning strike. b. There was severe weather. c. There was debris on the tracks.
They reversed the train (So CLOSE to being able to get home!), pulled us backwards into the station, opened the doors and told us (this all took about 30 minutes) that there was now no rail service of any kind.
The woman visiting the inlaws took out a bottle of vodka cocktail and drank it.
I phoned K who was working uptown and we made plans.
I exited the now-closed totally mobbed (angry mobbed) station and went upstairs to see a wet and in-shock city.
Thousands of people with no rail system = some mayhem.
I walked across town and waited for K.
K had been editing for a very kind woman who heard him planning with me on the phone and leaned over and handed him her car keys.
Imagine such a kindness?
It took him some time to reach me and we set off to escape the city with the news radio on.
As we approached one method of egress we heard that it had been closed. We heard that the highways beyond it were closed meaning we'd have to take a sub-highway home.
Plan B was put into operation - a slightly less-used bridge uptown.
We sailed across the bridge with some ease, night had fallen, and we found ourselves in what I like to describe as a sort of post-apocalyptic Mad Max sort of setting.
The area we had driven into was one of the areas that had been devastated by the storm (which, incidentally, lasted about 15 minutes). Of course, as this had just occurred, no one was aware of which neighborhoods had been destroyed.
It was a straight shot from this section of the city to our town. About 13 miles.
It took us just over 5 hours.
We crawled so slowly that, at one point, I exited the vehicle, went in a chain-store, found and used the loo and went back to the car while K had driven less than half a block.
We stopped and ate in the most hideous food establishment I have ever beheld. That we do not have some sort of food poisoning is a miracle. It was populated by pregnant diners who, no doubt, could not sit in stopped traffic any longer than we could.
We inched for many hours until K was miserable and uncomfortable and I took over whilst he navigated with his iPhone.
We left the two-lane road at that point and dodged and wove through about three miles of downed trees (hundred year-old and mighty trees) and around downed power lines.
There were police and firemen and the mayor and his accompanying motorcade.
There was a fatality not far from the apartment we lived in when the boys were little.
It was surreal.
We arrived home (Oldest manned the pumps, Youngest was asleep, Middle was out) to downed trees and limbs.
It was 1:00am.
My boss was delayed three hours but made his meeting (whew).
We had a glass of wine and slept the sleep of the dead.
We rose early to return the kind loan of the car (and there was no rail service).
I thought I'd have some closing thoughts, but I don't seem to. Perhaps I'm still exhausted.
The Weather Service will now determine if tornadoes hit the city, but it's hard to imagine one didn't.
I'm sort of sorry I was below ground. I would have loved to have seen it.
I can't decide which is better...