The Abominable Snow

It snowed again here in the Seattle area today. It began around 4PM, and while it wasn’t as cold or quite as bad as the last time, somehow things managed to turn out much worse for me.

I left work “early,” around 4:20PM, to avoid the horrific inclement weather driving abilities of my eastside compatriots, or so I thought. First I present Exhibit A.

Keith's Trip Home - Exhibit A
Exhibit A

Use the numbers in the image to follow along as I share my latest saga of bad weather meets bad drivers…

  1. I inched my car from Building 17 on the main Microsoft campus toward NE 39th Street.
  2. As I prepared to turn right onto NE 39th Street, I was rear-ended by a woman in an SUV (Nissan Pathfinder). I hadn’t even made it off campus!
    • I knew from the impact the SUV did more than just scratch my car (Mazda 626) so I got out to survey the damage. My bumper had a big chunk missing and was badly scratched. Fortunately, there was no major damage, like a displaced trunk, so I threw up a hypothetical high-five to the Mazda engineers.
    • The snow was coming down really hard as I began walking toward the Nissan and I bundled up as best I could. The woman from the SUV approached me as well and asked if I was ok. I replied in the affirmative. As if on cue, she told me she had been pushed into me by the car behind her. I glanced at the car behind her SUV and, sure enough, there was a Ford Escort with a badly damaged front-end. “How in the world do you rear-end an SUV, in an Escort, leaving a parking garage, in a snowstorm, with so much force, that it damages the car in front of it?” I pondered momentarily. The answer (“Horrible Seattle drivers!!!”) was too obvious for me to feign bewilderment.)
    • Nissan Woman and I began approaching the crumpled Escort in true Kool Moe Dee, “Wild Wild West” fashion. Someone had some ‘splainin’ to do. We must have looked menacing. A woman slowly appeared from the driver’s side of the Escort looking Cockeyed & CluelessTM rocking a classic Steve Urkel, “Did I do that?” expression on her face. Nissan Woman looked perturbed. Seeing all the cars and snow pile up ruining any hope I originally had of getting home quickly, I was pissed.

    • There the 3 of us stood, in the snow, Nissan Woman, Cockeyed & CluelessTM and yours truly, waiting for the other to say or do something. As the only person who hadn’t hit anyone, I was hoping one (or both) of them pulled out some hush money so I could be on my jolly way. Shoot, the 626 is already battle-scarred and a little duct tape would surely give that bumper a little character. No dice.
    • I took the lead and dialed neun, eins, eins. I was transferred to Redmond PD who instructed me to have everyone exchange information and be on our jolly way. (I don’t blame them for not wanting to come to our aid in those road & weather conditions.)
    • We exchanged licenses and proofs-of-insurance and e-mail aliases since we all work for the same company. Nissan Woman and I had to keep repeating ourselves to Cockeyed & CluelessTM and helping her copy our info. I tried to be patient when I realized English isn’t her first language but those jumbo snowflakes and my non-jumbo jacket made that extremely difficult.
    • All was done and we, Nissan Woman and me, headed back toward our vehicles. Cockeyed & CluelessTM then asked, “What should I do now?” I felt really sorry for her. Her car was still drivable but a streak of sheer terror swept across her face when I suggested she just drive home slowly and safely. Noticing her reaction, I then suggested she pull into the nearby lot, return to her office, and call a taxi or someone to pick her up. Nissan Woman also offered to take her home. She decided to take the taxi.
    • I wiped the 2 inches of snow that had accumulated on my rear window away with my arm and climbed back into my (damaged) ride.
  3. From NE 39th Street, I slalomed my way down 159th Ave NE and onto NE 40th Street.
  4. Thirty minutes later I made it about 300 yards to the intersection of NE 40th Street & 156th Ave NE. This is probably the busiest intersection around the main campus.
  5. While waiting for the intersection to clear enough for me to continue down NE 40th Street, I noticed that small incline between 156th and SR-520 had already claimed several victims in its icy clutches. A double-length, articulated King County Metro bus was stuck on the hill, cutting off two lanes, with all its massive tires spinning. There were also a half-dozen cars fish-tailing and sliding back down the hill. Was the 626 up to the challenge? I knew I had no choice but try since turning left or right onto 156th would immediately tack on another hour or two to my trip home due to the backup and conditions along the ancillary roads.
  6. Five minutes later my dumb butt was stuck on that same hill, next to that same bus, with my front-wheel drive spinning furiously and doing no good. I used all my Midwest blizzard techniques. I even pulled a couple Nor’easter moves from my bag of tricks. Let’s just say the 626 was the Ohio State offensive line, I was Troy Smith and that hill was the University of Florida defense. We were getting our butts kicked. It was so ugly, a couple of the owners of those half-dozen fish-tailing cars who had called it quits came over to assist me. They pushed, I spun, they pushed, I spun. They finally got me to the top of the hill and I somehow made it on up 40th to the other side of SR-520 and joined the long caravan of cars attempting to escape.
  7. Ten minutes later I had moved 20 feet and decided to pull into the Building 122/123 satellite campus, park the 626 and walk the rest of the way home. It had taken me 45 minutes to go 1 mile and I was 3.5 miles away from home. I parked, raided my gym bag for a pair of tennis shoes, a couple extra T-shirts and a couple extra pairs of socks. Everything smelled nice & fresh since, as TB says, my gym bag is just for show. :eyeroll:

It took me exactly 61 minutes to walk the 3.5 miles in the snow. Exhibit B shows my entire route from start to finish. The light green line shows the part I drove, the dark green the part I walked.

Keith's Trip Home - Exhibit B
Exhibit B

A very memorable journey, indeed. I hope the 626 is ok out there in the cold. We’ve been through a lot today.

4 Replies to “The Abominable Snow”

  1. I am so sorry to hear. Similar experience. First storm, it took me 2.75 hrs to get home via 405. This time it took me 1 hr to get through 1.5 miles and then I decided to park & ride to get home, at least I was home by 8:15pm……

  2. Yes, the weather has been awful since Thanksgiving. We would be better off in Chicago this winter. I hear it’s supposed to snow even more tomorrow morning. :eeek:

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