I live about 12 miles from where I work.  On a bad traffic day, it can take me as long as 50 minutes to get home.  Yesterday, the Washington Metro area was hit with a snow storm and it took me over 9 hours to get home.

The Washington region is not known for its handling of adverse weather events.  The combination of drivers from all over the country and the lack of wisdom in the Federal government lends itself to disastrous results; as it did yesterday.

This snow storm was no surprise.  It had been forecast for several days.  In fact we knew a full day before the approximate timing of the storm.  The National Weather Service had stated that the storm would hit late afternoon and would effect the evening commute.  If you haven’t experienced rush hour in Washington, thank God.  It’s not a pleasant experience.

The Federal government, in its wisdom, decided to release everyone two hours early.  First of all, releasing everyone at the same time is kinda like trying to thread a bus through key hole.  The Washington roads are stressed every rush hour, and that’s with a normal staggered release of commercial and government commuters.  Why the government didn’t start a staggered release at noon is one of life’s great mysteries.  Instead the snow started about 3:30 and a mass of vehicles hit the roads right about that time.  I left work at 3:40.  An hour later I had gone a grand total of 3/4 of a mile.

People in this area cannot drive in snow.  That’s not news.  Unfortunately, the Federal government (the largest employer in this area by far,) didn’t take that into consideration.  Well, why would they?

But on to the subject of this post.  Acts of Kindness…Acts of Idiocy.  There was some of the prior, but way more of the latter.  Sometimes they took place at the same spot.  Here’s one example.  It saw a number of examples of people getting out of their cars to go help a stranded driver (read: stuck) not in their lane.  Helping these drivers would do nothing to move their cars forward.  They did this to help their fellow man.  Now, how did they get stuck?  By assuming that if a little gas will get you going on a dry surface, a whole lot more will get you going in ice and snow.  Logic would tell you this wouldn’t work…and that’s where the idiocy comes in.  Some would’ve been stuck, regardless.  Crappy tires…rear wheel drive…etc., etc.  In numerous cases the cause was a over-confident SUV driver.  These battle wagons give people a sense of invulnerability that is most definitely not warranted.  When I was young, the phase, “All 4-wheel drive will do is let you get in a lot deeper before you’re stuck,” couldn’t be more true.  But, more importantly, people driving SUVs seem to think there is nothing that can stop them.  Perhaps, if you have the skills, and use you head, that may be close to true.  If not, well, there were more 4-wheel drive vehicles off the road on my 9 hour adventure, than 2-wheel drive ones.

I also saw people walking along the roads, shovels in hand, just going from stuck vehicle to stuck vehicle helping the folks out.  A true act of kindness in really lousy weather conditions.

But the greatest act of idiocy was the aforementioned decision by the Federal government to release the hoards onto the woefully inadequate roads of the D.C. area.  It ain’t like letting them leave a couple more hours early, in a staggered fashion was going to cost us one dime more than the hundreds of thousands of hours lost to the parking lot that the roads became.  A little forethought might have been useful.  Which brings me back to the question of cost.  People who make such decisions in the Federal government, aren’t or cannot do their jobs if a 100% guaranteed snowfall of at least 5 inches is known to be hitting the area.  So we can save a little money by terminating the folks at OPM that make such decisions and let the National Weather Service do it.  Nuff said.