January 26, 2011

pretty sure this wins my Worst Commute Ever award


so. my 7 hour commute. it started at 3pm this afternoon, when the THUNDERSNOW!! (which is a real thing!) started in Sterling, where i work. "holy crap," i said to myself. "i'm getting out of here before this gets bad."

so off i scooted to my car, where i drove (carefully) home.

well, almost home. i got about halfway through the Pit of Despair called Tysons Corner, then at about 3:30, traffic came to a dead halt. just.. stopped. not like, "oh man, we sure are moving slowly!" more like, "have i literally gone 0.5 miles in 2 hours? i... believe i have. fuck."

at this point, the snow started coming down in earnest. i noticed my rear window was getting hard to see out of. my side windows were completely covered in snow. it was kind of funny at first, like "ha! i'm getting snowed in WHILE IN TRAFFIC! who'd've thunk?" but then it became pretty scary. i was in the left most lane of three, and started thinking maybe i should pull into a restaurant or something and wait the traffic out, but how do you merge across two lanes of traffic when you can't see out any window but your front windshield, and both mirrors are covered in snow??

at this point, people were regularly getting out of their cars to clear them of snow. like, while in the middle of the road, in traffic. because it was coming down so hard and sticking so quickly that within literally minutes, you'd lose complete use of your mirrors or windows.

it was one of those traffic jams where you assume at SOME point it has to break and get better. i mean, they all do eventually, right? ....right?

yeah. FOUR HOURS into it, i was still in traffic, and now we had LEGITIMATELY stopped moving, for good. there's a median on the road i take, so you couldn't turn around and try another route. it became pretty apparent that something was blocking the roadway ahead - there was a big hill coming up, so i thought maybe cars had skidded down it and collided. this would be a problem for me and my little civic even if they moved out of the way, since.. well, it's a civic.

and the roads were SERIOUSLY terrible by now. the entire storm had taken place WHILE the roads were gridlocked with traffic, which meant that all the sleet, followed by the several inches of snow that had already fallen AND continued to fall, were being beat down into a thick layer of solid ice. since the roads were completely blocked with cars, there was no way trucks could come through to treat or plow the streets. if cars were skidding up or down a hill, it was a pretty good bet that i would be too. crap.

turns out i wouldn't have to find out how my car fared on the hill, because right then it died. kaput.

i'm not sure what happened; i was running really low on gas after FOUR HOURS stalled in traffic, but the gas light never actually came on. the battery has been under a lot of strain since i've drained it a couple of times recently (my headlight chime that lets you know your lights are still on stopped working, and.. uh.. turns out that's really helpful). in any event, my car was completely dead. in the middle of a traffic jam, in the middle of a blizzard. in the middle of the road.

what do you even DO at that point? it's not like a tow truck or an emergency vehicle could get to me; there were literally MILES of traffic backed up on all sides of me. i tried calling Geico roadside assistance for advice; they had a 2-3 HOUR wait to talk to someone. i tried calling the non-emergency police number, over and over again; i never got through to someone there either. the entire region was an emergency. there was no way i could get through to someone about a disabled vehicle.

at this point i just about lost it. i called chris, but what could he do? he couldn't come get me, seeing as the roads were impassable AND i was stuck in several miles of traffic. but i couldn't just leave my car - it's illegal to abandon a vehicle, plus it was just sitting in the middle of the road. a black car, at night, in a snowstorm, with no hazard lights because the battery ran out while i had them on. THAT wouldn't cause an accident!

but dude, chris came through in a huge way. i hope all of you are dating someone as great as my boyfriend, because even from his house he still managed to save the day. he realized he knows someone who lives near where i was broken down; he called another friend, got this guy's number, called him, and asked him to come help me. and the guy did. this guy barely knows me, but he walked in a freaking BLIZZARD to meet me at a starbucks, bought me a peppermint mocha after seeing my bedraggled state, walked all the way back to my car, and pushed it across two lanes of traffic into a parking lot. he is my freaking hero. i don't easily get super despondent, but without this awesome guy coming to save the day i would have... not been in a good place.

at this point it was about 9, and i'd been wandering around outside for almost two hours between trying to get my car to start, calling various people, calling chris in increasing amounts of panic/despair, and then finally moving the car. it was still snowing like a motherfucker. i was not dressed for outdoor blizzarding, and i was cold and soaked through. but my car was temporarily ok and i felt 1000 times better about the situation.

so then i spent the next hour walking home two miles through the blizzard, where, THANK ALL THAT IS HOLY, we still had power and i was able to take a hot shower.

so! now i'm home, with tea, and feeling a little delirious (good thing i wasn't home sick the past two days, right before spending 3 hours in a blizzard! oh wait! HA!) but i'm HOME. with tea. and heat. so it's ok.


  1. I’m glad you and your car are ok and that you are now home safe.

  2. Oh my god, Alice. That is craziness! Cheers to Chris for being so awesome! So glad you made it home. During our most recent snowstorm, some people were stuck in traffic for 12 hours. I can't even imagine!

    My brother and his family live in Woodbridge and my brother works in Arlington. He said the roads were crazy but he goes in super early in the morning and gets off early in the day so he was ok.

  3. Holy.


    So. . .not going in to work tomorrow then?


  4. I would just like to say congratulations to you for holding it together. I may have just started sobbing in my car.

  5. Thank goodness you're safe and sound! Why don't you come and visit us in Chicago where we hardly ever have snow anymore ;)


  6. I think the fact that you were 2 miles from home makes it so much worse!!

    So glad you are okay.

  7. What a crazy story! We had one of those clusters years ago when it took me 7 hours to drive home. No stalling, it was just that slow. Glad to see you've lived to tell about your, errr, adventure. xoxo

  8. Oh, men... so glad you are ok (and I am glad I came home at 2pm) - Hope you get to stay home tomorrow!

  9. That is insanity, friend. Woah! I would have lost my shit. So glad you are home warm and safe.

  10. OMG!! I went to bed thinking about you and hoping you were home by then!! How scary. I'm also glad you didn't spill anything from S'bux because I'm sure that might've sent you to the DEEP END. ;) Enjoy your snow day (uh, you do have a snow day today, right???)

  11. Holy macaroni! This would only happen to you. Thank the gods for the kindness of near strangers!!!

  12. Wow. That is insanity! Big props to Chris for coming through. He is awesome! SO glad you made it home eventually!

  13. I was following along on Twitter and I just wanted to CRY for you. Seriously. I'm so glad the story ended well, with a warm apartment and tea and a shower!

  14. AHHH! I'm feeling all tangled up in knots just thinking about it! Thank goodness for great boyfriends and kind acquaintances!

  15. I actually SAW Tyson's Corner on the NEWS. GAH GAH GAH!

    This is the kind of thing that you can't really believe ACTUALLY happens. It's just...unreal.

  16. Wow. Just, wow. So glad you are home safe!!

    "Pit of Despair" is my new favorite term for Tysons Corner.

  17. Oh Alice, it was so tough following this on twitter... I am so glad that Chris was able to help you. I think that you were able to hold it together very well! I am not sure that I would have been able to...

  18. OMFG. I would've been a sobbing, raging wreck. And then to have the car die?? Murderous RAGE. I'm so glad Chris's friend came to help you - that is awesome.

    P.S. I cannot believe you walked TWO MILES in a blizzard to get home. You now own the Best Worst Commuting Story Ever.

  19. So glad you finally got home!

    Now onto the next item of business: ACQUIRING AN ALL WHEEL DRIVE.

    What a mess.

  20. Oh my goodness, I want to buy that dude a drink! Thank God for the kindness of semi-strangers!

  21. So glad you got home safely eventually. I had a similar experience about 10 years ago--stalled traffic on the beltway in whiteout conditions and eventually my car dying--so now I don't bother to try to be brave. I left work at 2 yesterday and beat the crowd.

    You? Deserve the day off.

  22. Christ on a cracker. I am so sorry you had to deal with this, and yet SO HAPPY that you have such an awesome person (people) in your life to help save the day! Ahhh, a little faith in humanity restored :)

    Glad you're home safe & sound!

  23. All I can say is holy fuckballs! Seriously! I'm so glad you're OK! And so glad you got out of that mess. YOU WIN THE AWARD, HANDS DOWN!

    We had a storm like that, where it started during rush hour. It took me 5 hours to get home. And I drive a Sentra. And at one point, I was like 1/2 mile from home, just sitting in traffic and I seriously debated just leaving the car.

    Today is a snow day for you, right??

  24. Holy shit.

    When I started reading, I was thinking, "god, it sucks that so many people got stuck in this traffic," and then you went and took it to the next level.

    I'm so so glad you're okay. (And you're right, Chris is beyond amazing.)

    Any word on how your little Civic's doing?

  25. Gee-zus! I am so glad you made it home safely.

  26. O...M...G...!!!

    I wouldn't have even known what to do!! A couple of years ago a similar thing happened here with the deadlocked traffic on the interstate for hours and hours -- except for it was due to a 1/4 inch of ice. Yes, a QUARTER of an INCH.

  27. :( :( :(

    poor Alice!!!

    I would have FLIPPED out in that situation. So glad you got some help and got home OK. WOW.


  28. Oh my gosh! Worst commute ever award goes to Alice! Best boyfriend ever award to Chris (and bonus award to his friend). How awesome that they came through.

    I hope today was better, hon!

  29. Wow. I'm so sorry about your commute. Glad you are finally home. You deserve a big glass of alcohol. And a mental health day tomorrow. :-)

  30. Oh my goodness!! I just wanted to say that I feel for you!!

    My family and I were stuck in the Nashville Flood for 5 hours in traffic just like you described (only the danger was rushing water not a snowstorm) and I cannot imagine how you did that all by yourself. I would have been scared to death. Thank goodness it all worked out =)

    (Hope your car is okay now?)

  31. Poor thing! That must have been absolutely awful. It took me seven hours to drive the eight miles from my office downtown to my house in Falls Church. But thankfully, my husband was with me. And I insisted we get gas that morning on the way to work.

    I chuckled when you said people had to get out of their car to clear the snow. About half of my seven hours was spent in the E Street Expressway Tunnel so we had no idea if it was still snowing.

  32. Good gravy, that's awful! So awful that it made me say "good gravy."

    I was just saying today that I'm already so over winter, but I can imagine you're well past me on the "over it" scale.

  33. I saw your feed and man that really sucks. I'm glad your boy came through in the clutch.

  34. Oh, fucking hell.

    I - I don't know what to say. This is HORRIBLE.

    You so deserve your vacation. Jesus.

    (P.S. Maybe the car's exhaust system got plugged by snow and that is why it is working now?)

  35. So, I liked Chris before. Now I kind of love him. So glad you got home ok.