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.