Feb 13, 2007

Big Three-Two, Thank GOD!

Today is my thirty-second birthday. I feel blessed to be able to celebrate the passing of another year. I didn’t do a whole lot of celebrating though. In fact, I think today was the lowest key birthday I have ever had.

I started the day off late. I just couldn’t get out of bed. It wasn’t that I could hear my bones creaking or anything, I just didn’t want to get up. I woke up in the middle of the night around 4:30am and saw that it was lightly snowing. I went back to bed, but when my alarm went off I could hear the sound of cars driving through sloppy wet streets. The snow had turned to rain. So, I just wasn’t eager to get out of bed. Finally, I did. Both Holly and I got a late start. By the time I left for work, it was snowing steadily and I descended down into the metro for the long ride to work.

The ride itself was uneventful, but when I got to the last station on my commute, where the shuttle bus takes over, I had to wait… and wait… in the cold… and in the snow. Luckily, there was an overhang that provided me some shelter from the elements. The bus took so long to come that my Team Lead even called to see if I was still alive. I called back and assured him I was.

Finally, the bus came – and after waiting a few more minutes for more passengers from later trains, we were off. I had a feeling it was going to be a short day – the weather just seemed to be getting worse. Sleet and freezing rain were in the forecast – the worst kind of weather any big city can expect. I didn’t even wear my uniform because I figured it would be a waste of time to get into it and then back out again.

When I arrived at work, I took care of a few things and fit in a quick lunch with my friend Julia. She even bought me lunch – that was so nice of her. I treated myself to some fried chicken and a Dr. Pepper. This was a real treat, because Holly and I have been trying to eat healthier food these days. And fried chicken and sugar laden soda aren’t exactly on the menu!

I got back to work and managed to get a few more things done when the word came out that the Federal Government was closing up shop at 2:00pm (except for essential personnel – which I am not.) We got notice at about 1:40pm and I only had a few minutes to finish what I was doing before gathering my things to head out. It was important for me to head out ASAP because 5,000 people leaving a building at the same time and hundreds more leaving the base, and maybe half of them also using the metro, meant only one thing – MEGA traffic.

I made my way outside and onto a shuttle bus that only had standing room in the back – but we were told that we could not stand. So, off the bus I came and waited in the cold, and in the sleet, for another bus. Finally, one came, and I made sure I was getting a seat, which I did. The bus was packed and every seat was taken. There were hordes of people waiting for shuttle buses, so this driver said people could stand (wha?!?) The bus pulled away from the shelters, around the parking lot, out of the gate and onto the road… we were on our way! Or so we thought. Now we could see the disaster that lay before us… traffic – not even moving – brake lights as far as the eye can see. So we sat, and sat. Five minutes went by… then ten. Some people decided to walk the mile to the metro station in the sleet – they got off of the bus. I wasn’t going to risk walking in the icy cold with an unsteady right leg. So, I waited. The bus moved in feet – one at a time. It was unbearable. More people got off the bus. I convinced myself that I wasn’t in a hurry. But after waiting for half an hour and moving only – I’m not kidding here – only fifty feet or so – I began to grow impatient. The line of cars to the north gate was clearly over a mile long. The line to the south gate was meeting up with the line to the north gate! The south gate was over a mile away.

I then remembered that when I first started working there, I used to take the metro bus to and from work sometimes. The nearest bus stop to the metro rail was just outside the main gate, but the gate was under construction. I asked a few people if the gate was open to pedestrian traffic and they said it was. I whipped out my Windows Mobile Smartphone and went to the metro mobile website. I tapped in my starting point and the station as the ending point. Bingo! The W4 bus would be at a stop in fifteen minutes. I gathered my belongings, asked the bus driver to let me off, told the others on the bus of my plan and asked if anyone wanted to join me, but nobody did (boy was that a mistake for them.) I walked ten minutes over some pretty slippery stuff but made it to the stop with time to spare. The bus came early and I was at the station waiting for a train in five minutes. While waiting, I saw some very wet and cold people that got off of my shuttle bus earlier and walked the whole way. I felt sorry for them because they walked, but it’s not my fault that I am such a technically advanced problem solver, is it? Ha!

Anyway, I was home in thirty minutes. I just wish I had just walked to the bus stop to begin with. I wonder how long it took the shuttle bus to round the corner and make the mile long bumper to bumper trek to the station. My guess is that it took another hour.

Holly and I just came back from a nice birthday dinner at a seafood restaurant called Market Inn in DC. They’ve been in the same place since 1959. They had a piano player that has been performing there for over 27 years! The food was good, but slightly overpriced for the quality. Their broiled lump crab cake was pretty good though. But I don’t think I’d ever go there again. After dinner, we came home and now we’re going to bed. Like I said, it was an uneventful day. I actually think I spent most of it commuting! We are expecting more freezing rain tonight – in fact, I can hear sleet hitting the window as I type this. It is 25 degrees F right now and the temp is not expected to rise above freezing until Thursday, so tomorrow should be a nasty day. I’m personally hoping for a day off or at least a delayed opening.

By the way, I did have a big birthday party bash on Saturday. I hope to have pics from that up soon. Stay warm, wherever you are.

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