Showing posts with label Traffic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Traffic. Show all posts

Monday, February 11, 2019

An Angel in the Dark: How Help Came to Me on My 8-hour Journey Home in the Snow

Another heavy snowfall hit the Seattle area on Friday, February 8, and I had quite an adventure. I left my work at 1:05pm, just as the snow started to fall, but I didn't get home until 9:00pm. What is normally a 35-40 minute commute turned into eight full hours.

Seattle comes in for a lot of mockery whenever we get snow. But we have some unique conditions to deal with in our area. For one, we have a high concentration of homes and businesses on very steep hills. Add to that fluctuating temperatures that lead to a cycle of freezing, uneven thawing, and refreezing, making for patches of ice in unpredictable places. What is more, the many hills and mountains create a large variety of microclimates, which makes it hard to plan, since one neighborhood might by slushy, while a few blocks away there could be inches of snow. Given that snow rarely falls in the area, our local governments cannot justify spending a lot of money on machinery and chemicals to clear all of the roads when a snowstorm does arrive. Nor are most drivers prepared for such weather, since we could go a year to two without seeing snow. All of which sets us up for the worst possible driving conditions...

As I headed home on February 8, I knew things were not working out well when it took me over 3 hours to go just five miles. At that point, I decided to stop for a break and a bite at the local Fred Meyer. As I headed out again, I tried to pick the best route on the basis of the traffic indications on my phone map. But, as it would turn out, I had made the wrong choice.

Throughout my trek, as I sat in traffic and later drove in the heavy snow, I kept my mind occupied by listening to music, talks, and an audiobook. I was determined to keep a good attitude. I was sure I would get home sooner or later and didn't panic as that later became much, much later.

But there was one pretty scary moment. After about six hours of trying to get home, as I was heading up a dark hilly area, I suddenly found that the road had a ton of snow, much more than just a short distance away. I definitely needed chains to navigate this section, but just then I also realized that one of my chains had come apart in one place, and I was not able to fix it without a tool, which I didn't have with me.

I was standing by my car in the snowfall, in the cold and dark, thinking that this time I was going to get stranded. Without the chains, I would not be able to go forward, nor would I be able to turn back. Nor was there any city center within walking distance. Perhaps I could ask for help at one of the nearby homes, but I was surrounded by large properties, where the houses were far from the road.

During my drive, I said various prayers as I progressed through the especially stressful parts. In this moment, I said a very simple, specific prayer. I simply said, "Mary, I really, really need some help now. Please help me out."

Not a minute went by, when a pickup truck came up the road and stopped. A young man got out and asked: "Are you doing okay there?" I told him my predicament, and he soon produced a tool that could get the chain fixed. Within a few minutes, I was able to get back on the road. He told me that he was just out and about testing his truck, so he had been on a number of routes. He gave me some good suggestions for how to proceed and recommended that I turn around and follow a different route. He blocked the road with his truck so I could take my time carefully jostling back and forth in the snow in order to change directions safely.

The rest of the drive was long but uneventful. I got home safe. I will probably never meet the young man in the truck again. If I did, I wouldn't recognize him, because I didn't get a good look at his face in the dark. I didn't even get his name in the midst of everything. But he was just the right person sent my way just at the right time. I am sure that his driving by and stopping when he did was no coincidence...

Picture: Our Lady of the Snow. As the first snowfall came this winter, our outdoor statue got an usual snow cover, making it look like someone is hugging Our Lady.