[state of emergency]

Last night, a drive that normally takes me 40 minutes (45 at the most), took me 11 & 1/2 hours. And you know what? I'm so unbelievably grateful for that. There are still people stuck, not just in shelters, grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants, but in their cars on the road. I made it home. They didn't. You see, every school and every business let out between noon and 1 pm yesterday. That meant the roads were quickly overloaded. A few sections of major highways downtown had been treated but the majority of the roads had not been. It's not difficult to imagine the post apocalyptic situation that occurred as a result. (Don't believe me on the post apocalyptic thing? Check out this article.)

To say last night was an adventure would be an understatement. It started at 1:22 pm when I got in my car to go home. I should have known things would be bad when it took me 10 minutes to get out of the parking lot. An hour later I called Mom and told her I'd be home in an hour. I was so so so wrong. At one point in time, I got so hungry I ate caramel dipping sauce with a spoon. It was all I had left and I had no prayer of getting home for dinner anytime soon. That was a low point.

About 5 hours later, Mom and I were reunited, not at home but on the side of the road. A few hours after that, we were getting dangerously close to home and thinking we were out of the danger zone. We'd picked up 3 hitchhikers, all of whom had been walking for hours to get to that point. We loaded them in the backseat of Mom's SUV and kept plodding along at a steady pace. Then we ran into a roadblock.

Five cars had stopped in the middle of the street. It looked like they were having a little meeting: none of the cars showed any signs of damage and none were even touching each other. They'd all just circled up right there in the middle of the street, blocking both lanes. Our 3 friendly hitchhikers hopped out of the care to go see if they could help push some of the cars out of the way so at least one part of the road was passable. Turns out 3/5 cars had been abandoned and there was no sign of the drivers anywhere. The other 2 drivers expressed no interest in moving. We had officially reached the furthest point either car would go that evening. So after some careful maneuvering, the car was lodged half on the sidewalk so that the road wouldn't be blocked. 2 of the three hitchhikers took off but one thankfully stayed behind to walk with us. His name was Mario and I'm fairly certain I wouldn't have made it home without him.

When I originally got dressed to go to work, I put on a pair of heels as I do 4 out of 5 days every week. But at the last second I kicked them off, grabbed a pair of socks, and slipped on Mom's old cowboy boots. While very cute, they have no traction. The bottoms are completely slick.

As I went to get out of the car, I had to sort of hop to a snow bank. I'd already fallen & hurt my neck trying to help get Mom's car up a particular difficult hill so I was very well aware that my ability to move was extremely limited in my current footwear. Still better than the heels, but not by much. So slowly but surely I maneuvered out of the car, clutching the door like a life preserver the whole time.  Mario, Mom and I were chattering all the while about how crazy this day had been. When I first glanced at Mom, she was sitting in the car, putting her gloves on before exiting. I looked back approximately half a second later and she was gone. Upon further inspection, I found her lying on her back half under the car. She didn't look hurt or even surprised. In fact, she really didn't have any expression on her face. My first thought was "Oh". Then that was followed by "huh". A quick survey of my surroundings told me that there was no way on God's green earth I would make it to the other side of the car where the roads were significantly slicker.

Mario suggested that Mom try crawling through to my door and coming out that way. After a few seconds of struggling, she was up and in the car. A few more seconds and she was on the ground on my side. We locked up the car and began the two mile trudge home.

At first things went smoothly. We walked single file through the snow on the edge of the sidewalk where less people had walked.

Then 10 feet later we encountered what would prove to be my mortal enemy last night: a driveway. It turns out that most driveways were so beaten down at their base that they were essentially sheets of ice. I did a fairly solid impersonation of a cartoon character on ice, complete with legs sliding back and forth and arms waiving in circles, before finally landing firmly on my butt about two steps across the wide driveway. Mario sprang into action and picked me up. I tried again with much the same result. It was painfully clear that I was not making it across that driveway on my own. Soon, Mario had an arm around my waist and a firm grip on my hand and was half supporting me as we crossed the first several driveways. Eventually I began to work out a technique to get across on my own but for several driveways after I stopped needing to be carried, Mario still would come up behind me and grab a hold of my jacket, just in case I went down.

I felt like a five year old with my dad holding my jacket. The worst part? Mario wasn't that much older than me. It was embarrassing. But eventually we figured out a rhythm and I was able to go without any sort of support. Mario never strayed far from my side though, just in case I flailed onto the ice again (let's be honest, there was a high probability of that happening).

Somewhere along the way our little merry band of 3 turned into a little merry band of 4 when we ran into someone else who had been walking for 5 hours, not including an hour long stop for a beer & some food at a restaurant that wasn't open. Technically, the sign said closed but there were people in there and the door was unlocked so he went in to at least warm up for a little while. The wait staff took him in and fed him anyways. That's the most amazing thing about this whole night: how kind people were to each other. I met someone from Michigan who'd run out of his house on one of the icy side streets I traversed just to help give people directions and tips on how to navigate the treacherous stretch. I saw more people pushing strangers' cars. My personal favorite was a group of young men near an auto repair shop on a bad hill in Roswell. They had brought a spare pair of jeans with them, which they'd put under car tires to help get traction. Once the pants were in place, all 3 would troop around to the back side of the car and push with all their might. They got at least 4 cars up the hill that way that I saw. There were people passing out food and water & offering bathrooms. Stores and restaurants were letting people shelter in them overnight. It was amazing to see just how kind people really can be.

Onward the 4 of us trudged, talking mostly just to encourage each other to keep moving.  We made slow, steady progress through the snow and ice. After a while, we lost our newest friend when we reached the entrance to his neighborhood. There was much goodbye-ing and be safe-ing. Then we reached the biggest challenge of our walk: Johnson Ferry.

Johnson Ferry is a 6 lane road and is the main thoroughfare in the area where I live. Needless to say there wasn't much in the way of snow left for me to walk on. I almost went down again but recovered quickly and found my way to a small strip of snow. We said goodbye to Mario then as he headed off to his neighborhood and waiting wife. I followed that strip of snow down the street for a while as Mom observed that I could not in fact just walk down Johnson Ferry all night. I retorted that I could and would do so. Eventually I found another patch of snow to step in and repeated the process across the street.

11 and 1/2 hours after I got into my car, I walked in the side door of my house. My legs were bright red and frozen, my butt was sore from my tumble, and I couldn't really look to my left. But I was home. Blessedly safely home.

I can affirmatively state that I will never, ever, ever complain about a commute again. Ever. And one day, I will terrorize my children and grandchildren with the tale of the 2014 snow storm that hit Atlanta.


  1. So glad to have traveled this road with you dear!

  2. Oh my!! Glad you are safe. It's crazy that this would happen in 2014.