I have been in Washington, D.C., for over 30 years and have gone through many evolutions of how we deal with snow here in our nation’s capital. Having grown up in Wisconsin and spent my undergraduate years in Chicago, I’ve seen, shoveled, trudged through and played in more than my share of the white stuff. However, during my first week on the job working for Congressman Obey from Wisconsin in the early 1980s, it started to snow. I was mystified by the crowd of my fellow staffers by the office windows, watching and monitoring and pondering when the office would close. I noted that we were all from Wisconsin so I didn’t see why everyone was worked up about driving in the snow. I was quickly told “it’s not us, it’s them.” Meaning of course, people like Rosa, our longtime nanny from Ethiopia, who would simply leave her car in the middle of the road at the bottom of the hill when she felt she had had enough of driving in the snow. She would send Don or me down to drive it up the hill to our home. But there are other lessons I have learned along the way here …
There are millions of people on the D.C. roads, and that volume doesn’t take much to create havoc on the roads. There are times when a strong rain or sun in your eyes can slow entire highways to a crawl.
There are a lot of people in the D.C. area who not only have never driven on the snow but some have never even seen it! That creates an entirely new obstacle to deal with.
Snow tires? Not to be found out here. And while I love my little sedan 360 days a year, I’m the first to say that its “no-wheel drive” action makes exiting my driveway, on a hill, always an exciting adventure.
Snowplows are now at least seen in most localities, but when I first moved to D.C., snowplows used to be simply converted dump trucks.
Tonight, on the drive home, we had a clipper system that came through dropping an inch of snow, but given the cold roads and more snow than was anticipated, cars were flying everywhere. Virginia police reported that they were seeing over 170 car accidents AN HOUR all evening long.
So, all that being said, I have given in to the urge to be ready and to hunker down if/when necessary for the foot or two of snow that is supposedly coming our way. I stopped at a grocery store that is on my route home, marveled at the full parking lot and made my way in to get my staples.
Now I am all set!