Sunday, January 23, 2005

There's no business like snow business

It's been almost too much to watch Greg Fishel apologizing all over the place (including CNN) for missing the forecast last week. Not quite all of us hang on Greg's every word. Some of us actually look out the window, apply what's left of our common sense and (gasp) make our own judgments.

In early February of 1978, two weeks after I was married, I was caught in a Connecticut blizzard that struck at 10:00 a.m. on a weekday. We all knew it was coming, just as the storm that has pummeled New England this weekend was well-predicted.

But we were all at work anyway.

I left my office at 3:00. That's when my stupid employer, The Hartford Insurance Group, released us, after several hours of white-out conditions. The state was already in an emergency condition. To drive about a mile and a quarter to my new husband's place of work (the Travelers Insurance Company) took me over three hours.

No cell phone. No way to let him know I was okay or on the way. Just three-plus harrowing hours, crawling through downtown Hartford like a tiny frozen snail. Thankfully, I had a full tank of gas and a brand new battery in our Honda Civic.

When I got to the Travelers, the streets were barron. They'd let out hours before we did. My new husband was beside himself with worry, having no idea the shortcuts through parks, across meridians and over sidewalks I'd taken to get there. Under normal circumstances, I'd have gotten a dozen tickets.

The problem was the snow, yes, but mainly the number of people who just threw their hands in the air, got out of their cars and walked away, frustrated that as a foot of snow had already fallen, they just weren't getting anywhere. Thousands of people were stuck-- for the rest of the week -- at their place of work because of how long it took to clear the streets.

So when this freak storm hit last week and children were stranded at school because their busses couldn't bring them home, I had to chuckle a little and wonder even more -- why Wake county was so uniquely screwed up that they couldn't manage themselves better.

It must all be on the overburdened shoulders of Greg Fishel, or so the News & Observer (oh, yeah ... a media partner of WRAL) would have you believe.

Oh, brother.

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