Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow Stories

As blizzards go, the one we experienced over the past weekend is supposed to have been a record-breaker. The record broken, however, is apparently for snowfall before the actual start of winter. Or snowfall on the last shopping weekend before Christmas. Or snowfall in years that you might think are prime numbers but aren't. We got somewhere in the neighborhood of a foot and a half of snow, but virtually all of came overnight and the plows seemed able to stay ahead of it as far as keeping the streets relatively clear.

As blizzards go, however, this one did wreak havoc with travel plans. Sammi was supposed to fly home on Saturday afternoon, but Delta, apparently succumbing to the doomsday scenarios being broadcast by the media, cancelled all four of its flights for the day, including two in the morning, well before a snowflake had fallen (and while it was only raining on the Richmond end). When Sammi was finally able to get through to a live person at the airline, she was rebooked for the same flight on Sunday. All well and good until Delta cancelled all the flights for a second day, despite the fact that the storm had blown out of here by mid-morning.

Since Sammi was scheduled on a flight from NY to California this morning, this created a rather large problem. There were no flights she could get on that would get her here in time. There was, however, AmTrak, and so I was able to book her a ticket on a train from Richmond to NYC yesterday. Of course, since nothing goes as planned when we're in blizzard mode, the train, which was due in at 4:45 p.m., finally arrived at 9:30. After another hour on the Long Island Railroad, Sammi was finally in the door at 11:30 last night. Her planned day and half home before departing for LA was reduced to about five hours, most of which were spent sleeping, as she and I were out the door at 4:45 this morning on the way to the airport.

This morning's flight, on American, seems to have departed as scheduled. Delta, on the other hand, has sent Sammi an email advising her that they have rebooked her on "the earliest convenient flight" from Richmond to NYC. It's at 6:30 tomorrow morning.


Bob and Deb Greenberger's flight from Florida yesterday evening, on the other hand, was not a problem. In fact, it arrived some twenty minutes ahead of schedule. As we had custody of both their car and their puppy, I was picking them up.

Despite a few icy patches on the roads, getting to LaGuardia Airport last night was fairly easy. Not many folks were out driving on a frigid Sunday night after a blizzard. Those who were, however, all seem to have been headed for LaGuardia. It took me as long to get from the entrance to the "arriving passengers" area to its exit (having extracted Bob and Deb from the crowds of waiting folks in the process) as it did to go the 25 miles to the airport!

First, two lanes of traffic were forced to merge into one because the other was filled with cars whose drivers were apparently just waiting. The single lane then spread to four in front of the terminal, three of which were filled with more "waiting cars" as drivers in the only moving lane tried to squeeze in among them. Add a traffic light that turned red every time a pedestrian appeared and it's little wonder why it took almost forty minutes to make a quarter-mile loop.

The pick-up and drop-off areas are usually policed by security personnel who blow their whistles and wave you on if you are stopped for more than thirty seconds. (On one occasion a few years ago, I was confronted with one who kept yelling and angrily waving at me to move even as a crowd of pedestrians were walking in front of my car.) Last night, however, they were all missing in action -- lost in a giant snowdrift, perhaps -- and so, chaos ensued.


CRI's office is in a group of buildings that form a U-shape around a central parking area. Said parking area accumulated quite a bit of snow, which the plowers pushed into a couple of sizable mountains in the middle. Actually, I should say that's where they pushed most of the snow. The rest got pushed up against the buildings... including the office doors and garage doors and loading docks. Employees of the various businesses here got quite a surprise when they drove in this morning and discovered their workplaces were virtually inaccessible. (We at CRI were a bit more fortunate; our truck driver, his son and a friend came by yesterday and dug a path to our doorway.)

Today, due to numerous complaints to the landlord, there was a payloader dispatched to move all the snow from in front of the buildings. Of course, since the parking lot is now filled with cars, he hasn't got as many options for where to put it as he would have had yesterday when we were all at home.

Those two mountains of snow in the middle of the lot... I think they're going to be with us till spring rolls around.

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