By the time Snowmageddon II hit, just four days after the first, the unusual good cheer and neighborliness of our-capital-under-seige had melted away--and its usual nasty temperament reasserted itself, with extra viciousness.
Much of it was understandable: Many had not been able to leave their houses for the duration, and when they did, they were like angry hermits emerging from a woodshed, starved and unsocialized. Others had been driven into delusion and paranoia: Why did Bob's street get plowed and not mine? Is this a political plot? Then there were those tired of the frontier life. A friend of mine in Virginia, whose had lost all power, had been reduced to boiling water over the decorative gas fireplace. And with school canceled indefinitely, daycare centers shut-down, and nannies unable to rescue parents from their stir-crazy charges--well, let's just say I was grateful to be trapped at home with two reasonably mature children, one who could shovel and the other who could be amused for long periods with video games. I thought back to the days of having two toddlers. Could I have retained my sanity after 96 straight hours of Barney, Play-doh, Itsy Bitsy Spider, uh-oh-poo-poo, The Wiggles, please-dear-God-why-won't-you-just-take-a-nap, brownie baking, Playskool, if-Mommy-doesn't-have-a-drink-she-WILL-kill-someone, pop-up-books, where's-my-frikkin-Zoloft and ... "Daddy, is Mommy dead?"
But a lot of the nastiness was just plain old familiar. I noticed this particularly on the roads: Because our street--a major thoroughfare--had been cleared immediately, and luckily we own a four-wheel drive vehicle, I'd been driving around from Day One. We risked the Beltway to go to a local ski hill (usually an hour away, but this time it took us two). On Day Three, I got the kids to a movie theater; and that evening, we were even able to meet other dug-out friends for dinner at an (empty) Bethesda restaurant.
At the best of times, Washingtonians are the rudest and most dangerous drivers on the planet (and this is not an exaggeration--see Snow Diaries I). In snow, they up those factors to the power of ten. It was one thing to be out on the Beltway with four-wheel-drive going 20-30 mph--quite another to be in a rusted Hyundai careening over four iced lanes at 70 mph, cutting you off, and then braking suddenly. I've noticed this in the past: It doesn't matter what road conditions are like, Washingtonians drive as if they are in Florida. That is, embittered, thoughtless/oblivious, vindictive SENIORS driving in Florida.
The normally crowded Beltway the day after Snowpocalypse I:
After some jerk skid by us at high speed, spraying my windshield with a tidal wave of slush and temporarily blinding my vision, I re-evaluated my own wisdom at venturing out on the roads. And when these drivers weren't endangering others, they were tying up tow trucks and other emergency services by predictably getting stuck.
Now, when reports were calling for another foot of snow, tempers simply snapped and it became a free-for-all on the roads and at the supermarkets to get to whatever supplies remained. "Safeway is decimated!" a friend reported hysterically. "No milk or eggs left!" Lines at our local Whole Foods stretched from the front of the vast store to the very back--and people were driving their shopping carts the way they do their cars. Gone were those jaunty little waves of thank you or "No please, you go first!" when the snow was still fun and we were all pioneers. It was more, "You can pry this last stick of butter from my dead cold hands..."
My husband, meanwhile, was tied upon the phone, trying to re-arrange a business flight out West. Although the snow hadn't yet started, most flights were canceled--but miraculously, he managed to re-book a flight through Nashville. I drove him to Reagan National on Tuesday afternoon. Fortunately, the highway was reasonably clear--of snow and jerks.
"You're going to be okay?"
"Oh sure," I replied. "It's all just weather hype. You know how the forecasters overreact. A foot. Right. I bet it will just be an inch or two. If that."
Uh oh poo poo...
More to come. You can read earlier installments of Danielle's Snow Diaries here.
Follow Danielle Crittenden Frum on Twitter: www.twitter.com/figtreevine