Stress relief costs $129, plus tax. I'll explain in a minute.
The big weather-related story for the Washington DC area in 2010 was the blizzard of early February. Snowmageddon ultimately involved four feet of snow, breaking all records. Most movement in the entire region stopped, airports were closed, trains were not running, the local subway and bus system was shut down for days. Most roads were impassable for days. Everybody has a story to tell about that week. Weather forecasters predicted that one accurately, from start time to snowfall totals. The storm was a slow and steady event and, all things considered, it was relatively easy for the general public and emergency officials to adjust to the conditions.
The biggest weather story around here for 2011, so far, happened yesterday. It was a quick but powerful storm dumping snow at the rate of 3 inches per hour. That storm started just a little bit earlier than the insanely long 'normal' DC area commute usually begins. As conditions rapidly deteriorated, the Federal Government and hundreds of local businesses decided to close early, all at the same time, dumping a quantity of vehicles normally travelling over a four or five hour period onto the roads all at once. Commutes that normally take 15 or 20 minutes took three or four hours. Some commutes that are usually an hour took six hours. Some drivers abandoned their cars, adding to the mess.
I attempted to leave work at 4:30, at the beginning of the road mess. Long story short, 45 minutes and two different routes later I was still less than a mile from the office. My usually 42-mile ride home takes more than an hour in afternoon drive time. I felt my stress level rising as I 'flew' down the road at a blistering 2 mph. "No, not gonna do this," I said out loud to myself and I returned to my office. I called the hotel next door, the one my company used to have a good relationship with, to see how much a room would be. They said $129, plus tax. That is more than I wanted to pay, a lot more than I did pay the last two times I stayed there but less than it could have been. A comfy room, free internet and no stress.
No snow in the forecast for today, I'm leaving work early and I get to sleep in my own house tonight. Low stress … except that it snowed 13 inches at home and unless a kind neighbor with a snow blower cleared some of my driveway I'll be digging out a Honda-length space with a shovel tonight. Ugh.