Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow-Covered Days

Today was a rough day in the office. It started with snow. For all my adoration and love of snow, the one thing I prefer not to do is drive in it. Unfortunately, this morning, I had no choice. When I left for work, the snow was thick on the roads and the plows hadn't yet gone through. As I'm told daily, I'm very lucky in my commute. I back out of my garage, go straight for a half-mile then make a left, travel about 2 miles and turn into the complex that leads to my building.

I know I'm lucky that it's really only about a 2 mile commute. However, for the record, I'd like to state that 2 miles in bad snow is just as terrifying as a 20 mile commute. I've done both. With a 20 mile commute, there's a period of thinking, "what the heck am I doing, driving on this crap!" Then you drive and then you get the hang of the slow breaking, the following other cars and leaving a nice gap. It's not easy, in fact, it's exhausting but when you pull into the car park at work, there's a sense of relief and knowing that it's likely, when you leave, things will be better.

With a two mile commute, there's no time to find a rhythm. It's tension, all the way. This morning, the snow was so thick that it became one of those "make your own driving lane" situations. You couldn't see the lines of the road, you could only guess. You could try to follow in the tracks of the car in front of you but it didn't do much good because it was still thick snow. I had a horrible, slightly terrifying moment where I could not get any traction and I started to slide sideways. I did what I instinctively knew how to do- take your foot off the gas, turn the wheel and try to slow. It worked. I was still a little nervewracked. Then I had the misfortune to get stuck behind a Dodge Charger. Note to people out there: Dodge Chargers might be a sort-of classic car. They might make a great noise when you rev the engine. I even think the Dukes of Hazard drove one so they're either instinctively cool or instinctively cheesy, take your pick. However, Dodge Chargers? Not good on snow. The one in front of me lost its traction at a light and it never recovered. It was painful to watch it try to regain its grip on the road but slowly slide sideways. At one point, it moved backwards and literally came within a foot of my bumper.

By the time I got to the light where I turn to go to my office, I was already shaking with stress. Add to that the slight horror of realizing there's an unplowed hill that you have to maneuver to get to the office? Not fun.

I made it. Then I realized that everyone else had too. We're all parking around the back this week which meant my lovely, normal parking space was claimed by an interloper. I found a spot but I had to search for it.

So, by the time I actually got to my desk, I wasn't in the best of moods. I was shaken and stressed and all I really wanted to do was go back home and curl up in my bed. However, I couldn't do this so I tried to work. All through the morning, I received comments of "you're so lucky you live so close!"

As I've said before, it's partially luck but mostly planning. I did it ON PURPOSE. I knew this would happen so I bought my house accordingly. Also, while I respect that I have a short commute, sliding sideways on a major road is no more fun within two miles of the office than it is within twenty. I'm not belittling the intrepid drivers who made it from afar but I think a little more sensitivity would go a long way. When Captain Monkeypants is holding her highly caffeinated tea mug for dear life with white knuckles first thing in the morning, DO NOT remind her how lucky she is that she lives so close. She does NOT want to hear it. Now, if they invented teleportation, then she'd be lucky.

Aside from that the bad weather, I also discovered that since we changed health insurance companies after the first of the year, my necessary 'treatment' for a condition that I have was no longer covered even though I was told that is would be when we signed up for our coverage. This meant when I called to authorize a medication be shipped to my doctor, I did not get the $30 copay I was expecting, I got a $415 shock. It's one thing to expect that type of co-pay but when you have no idea, I think they call that blindsiding. Several phone calls later, turns out I have to pay it.

I had tried to remain upbeat to this point. I went to the bathroom to try to be inspired by the optimism there. This did not work. I realized I was just not going to be in a good mood. Then, to top it all off, I got an email at work. One of my coworkers wanted to know if it was a possibility that she might 'crash' at my house tonight so she didn't have to risk the snow.

Now, I have some coworkers I consider 'friends'. I have some that I consider to be quasi-friends. Everyone else is a coworker. This was a quasi-friend. In any other circumstance, I would have been more ok with it. In this case, it was more the principle of the thing. You see, as I mentioned yesterday, we're having a training workshop this week, in the office. We have 'Visitors' in the office. They're here. Thus, some of our personnel HAVE to be here too, those heavily involved in the training. The coworker who asked if she could crash is one of these personnel.

My problem is that I tend to have an idealist view of life: What's right is right, what's wrong is wrong. The problem is the world does not work like this. I'm learning that every day but still I live in hope. You see, the coworker who made the request of me and ALL of her 'team members' all have the same boss. He lives five hours away from our office. Each Monday, he drives to our office, each Friday, he drives home. In between, he stays in a hotel. Our company pays for his hotel. Our company pays for his mileage. Yet today, his staff made a request that since the weather was so abysmal, would it be possible that they, too, could stay in a hotel so they didn't have to risk getting trapped by the weather in the morning?

Their request, to the best of my knowledge, was denied. Thus, my coworker asked if she could stay at my place. Because I am a softie and horribly bad with guilt, I said that she could if it was an emergency. I wasn't terribly encouraging but I did not say no either. I did not WANT her to stay but the 'good' voice in my head told me that I had to do the right thing. In the end, she decided to take the risk and drive home anyway. I was thankful. I feel bad about that.

I think the biggest problem I have is that our company is hypocritical and contradictory. Today, our president was 'sick' but he 'worked from home' anyway. Few other people worked from home, even though we had a level one snow emergency. We did not get to leave early, even though the snow kept accumulating. One of our managers is permitted to rack up the bills so he can be in the office weekly without having to compromise by moving closer yet he could not permit his own staff to save the stress of hazardous travel by sparing the expense of letting them stay in a hotel.

I suppose part of me is a put out that a coworker asked me if she could stay with me just because I live close. I suppose it is convenient. It does not mean I want to become an inn for stranded coworkers. If I was a better person, I'd say, "No problem!" and permit them to stay. And, honestly, if it was a true, definite, absolute emergency, I would. It's just that once you start something, it snowballs. It sounds horrible but I know it to be true. If I let her crash this time, will it end there or will other people think, 'hey, spare bedroom! no commute!'
Probably not. It just makes me feel bad to think those thoughts.

And, as Karma happens, when I got home from work, I had to spend a long time digging my driveway out. My street is on the emergency route for the fire station and the police so they keep my street plowed. Unfortunately, when they plow, they push the snow inwards...into our driveways. When I got home, my drive was impassable. Since we were having a snow emergency, we're not permitted to park on the street so it wasn't as though I could leave my car on the street overnight. I had to shovel.

I like shoveling. It's good exercise and it's therapeutic. It's just not something you want to do before you even get home from work. Still, I did so and in record time. I'm proud to admit my next door neighbour, the Dog Whisperer, had a head start on me. I managed to shovel my driveway AND my sidewalk in less time than it took him to shovel his drive.

Now, as I'm looking out of the window, all I'm seeing is white. It's snowing hard and it's blowing. My driveway is covered again. The plows are running and piling the snow against the curb...and our driveways. I have a feeling I'll be late tomorrow because I'll have to dig myself out. I'll probably get mocked because I only live two miles from the office. It doesn't mean I get any less snow and any less inconvenience but I/m sure I'll get teased anyway. I usually do.

Yet tomorrow is a new day, shining with freshly fallen snow. If I have to dig first thing in the morning, I'll be at one with the snow, which I love. I've been forbidden to dance in it, around it, near it or even while thinking about it because, apparently, everyone I know now blames me for the snow when it falls. I know that if that happens, I'll come inside and listen to the news, my eyes flickering uncontrollably to that 'ticker tape' at the bottom of the screen, announcing school delays and cancellations, a tiny part of me wishing that, as it once had, it would again apply to me. I remember the hopeful days of watching that scrolling banner, hoping beyond hope that our school would be on there. When it was, it was like a rush of excitement, killing the actuality of trying to go back to bed but still loving that it was a day of pure, uninhibited nothingness. These days, I live in the real world. Companies don't have that scrolling banner of delays and cancellations.
Oh, but I wish they did. Especially after a day like today.

Yet I can believe that tomorrow will be better...right?

Happy Wednesday.

1 comment:

Rain Dancer said...

Captin Monkeypants...I had to shovel when I got home too...needless to say, I was NOT happy with my two sons who did not even think that perhaps their dear old mom couldn't make it through the pile of snow that the plow had pushed into my driveway. I was a little upset...which, as you know,goes along with the theme of the day. However, I found the shoveling therapeutic. Nothing like some good, hard physical work to make one feel better! Hope your day is better tomorrow!!