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Eclecticisms: Blizzard - 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Blizzard - 2011

The madness began Jan 31st, 2011. A blizzard was headed towards Chicago, covering many areas of the country, leaving people stranded. We'd experienced these storms before in 1966, 1979 and 1999. 1999 was the first year I drove (16 years old) and I remember it quite vividly. That's probably part of why my storm-anxiety had set in days before this, as soon as I heard the weather forecast.

Lake Shore Drive, after they closed it. People were stranded for up to 15 hours and how it was handled is a point of controversy right now. Picture via The Chicago Tribune.
 Our CFO told the people in my department to head out early to make sure we got home safe, especially given that two of us have an hour-long commute on a regular day. Well. Leaving downtown Chicago with thousands of other panicking people is NOT something I want to ever experience again. (Honestly, it could have been way worse, too.) I got to Ogilivie (Metra station) around 2:45 for a 3:30 train... which was not there. Apparently, trains were leaving as they filled up, leaving conductors behind in the confusion. The next train headed to my stop was at 4:05, and the announcements of cancellations and trains having already left early cued me to get as close to the platform as possible, in hopes I would get a spot. As close as possible didn't mean close. We waited in a mass, stressed and anxious, for the doors to open. As we were finally herded like cattle towards the 4:05 train, I was called an "effing-b" (full words) by a woman who was about 65 years old when I asked her nicely to stop pushing me. (After she started yelling, I did upgrade that to, "Can you please stop rubbing your gentials against me?", as she was full body pushing me forward in the mass of at least 150 people going to the train.) I'm not claustrophobic... but I sure was that day.

Once my area of the massive crowd made it around the sign displaying the train time and stops, I ran to one of the furthest cars and made it on.. barely. Panic ran through my body as  I jumped on with everyone else, bodies fully pressed against each other, no man-space to speak of. (I'm a big fan of man-space.)  The doors closed and locked, and we sat there for about 5 minutes, unsure of what would happen or how long it would take the train to pull out of the station. A pregnant woman started having a panic attack and we couldn't get the doors open. People later pushed around to make way for her to get to the stairs, so she could at least sit down. We finally headed out around 3:45. We needed to stop twice at each stop to let people out, as the train wouldn't fit on the platforms (due to so many extra cars) adding even more time onto the trip. We welcomed each stop though, as the doors opening meant gushes of crisp, ice cold wind filling the cars and cooling us off. Those of us pressed again the doors (the "Do not lean on the doors" announcements were not made that day!) occasionally rubbed off some of the condensation on the windows to view the storm outside.

Have you ever heard thunder and seen lightning while it was snowing? I have!

Luckily, I was standing near two men who were cracking jokes and making us laugh. They really helped me get through that ride. My stop came (after a 2.5 hour commute!), and they joked, "This isn't really anyone's stop.. these people are going to warm up at the bars!", since my stop is near about 5 of them. The walk home form the train felt shorter than I expected, even with the freezing cold wind at my face and the snow collecting in masses on my hat, coat, and in my purse. I was just glad to nearly be home. I ran into a man shoveling who I knew immediately was Eddie's brother. I said hello and introduced myself, and we chatted for a few seconds. I'm glad to have finally met him!

Finally home!

Here are pictures I took that night, and the next morning when I let Foose out. The snow is still causing havoc and I was able to work from home again today, something I am extremely grateful for! I'm a bit anxious about commuting in tomorrow, but it will be interesting to see how it goes.

Wish me luck!

Foose was afraid of the wind...

Our front door. Brian had to dig his way through snow to get to it, when he got home from work around 6:30 AM.

I really think this one says it all...

It's a good thing I don't drive much!
Pooped from playing in the snow!
I hope everyone is safe and warm at home!



At February 3, 2011 at 6:05 PM , Blogger Susan said...

Val, your description of the train ride absolutely cracked me up! Glad you made it home safe too. =)

At February 3, 2011 at 7:53 PM , Blogger Leslie said...

Sometimes when I'm working on crossword puzzles I think of your hatred for the CTA - and it always makes me laugh. I'm glad you made it home safely!

At February 3, 2011 at 9:27 PM , Blogger gypsy_jewels said...

Foose <3's it.

At February 4, 2011 at 5:01 PM , Blogger ohkeeka said...

I think you guys definitely got more snow than we did. Although it is about halfway up our balcony door, which is pretty crazy--it's going to be SUCH a mess when it melts.

Glad you got home safely at least! And spending a few days at home isn't the worst thing, right? :)


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