A Helpless Bystander

On January 27, 2011 · 2 Comments

Snow hit the Washington, DC metropolitan area yesterday evening (January 26, 2011). It wasn’t a bad snow, certainly nothing compared to last year’s "Snowmageddon," but the timing was awful: right at the height of rush hour in an area with the worst traffic congestion in the United States even on a perfect day. Predictably, the entire area jackknifed. Gridlock formed on an epic scale. I think people will be talking about this one for years.

I found a lot of related searches in my website logs this morning, the most poignant being "get off gw pkwy during traffic jam."

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I learned this morning that people were trapped on the George Washington Parkway for as much as fourteen hours last night, some until dawn this morning. I can only hope that my random website visitor from Great Falls (an area near the Parkway) accessing my page via "research in motion limited" (in other words, a BlackBerry device) found his or her escape and made it home safely. I’m going to guess it was an all-night adventure.

I followed the various social media in fascination yesterday evening as friends and loved ones updated their Facebook status and Twitter feeds using mobile devices, live from the road. Multi-person conversations pinged from and among those stuck in automobiles with those of us hunkered-down for the duration at home. I saw real world applications of the Six Degrees of Separation principal as Facebook friends-of-friends offered shelter to weary commuters who couldn’t escape past the inner suburbs. I watched events unfold electronically, but unable to do anything about it.

My story? I have none. My employer offered a choice: leave the office at noon and telework the remainder of the day or leave two hours early with no strings attached. I chose the former, worked my normal day, and sat comfortably at home as thunder-snow rocked the neighborhood. Doubtless, one of my better recent decisions.

On January 27, 2011 · 2 Comments

2 Responses to “A Helpless Bystander”

  1. Peter says:

    Higher unemployment rates make these situations worse as people are afraid to stay out of work or leave early.

  2. Craig says:

    I stayed as long as contractors were allowed to remain, before my superior’s superior told us all to go home. Then I got on commuter rail and rode home without incident.

    My commute was an easy one, and most folks didn’t have it nearly as good. A friend of mine in the Baltimore suburbs abandoned his car well past midnight and walked the remaining 3/4 mile to his home when his car and many in front of it couldn’t make it up the grade of their access road. His story was far too common the other night.

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