About two years ago, NC's Triangle
got a bad ice storm
that clogged traffic for hours as motorists struggled to navigate slippery roads that city workers couldn't effectively clear.
More about that in a bit, but first, let's talk about one of my favorite pastimes: sleeping.
I need at least six things to get a good night's sleep:
The bedding needs to be (1) warm, (2) soft, and (3) not too short for my body, and the environment needs to be (4) dark, (5) quiet, and (6) safe.
I CAN sleep with less than that, of course - after all, I have slept at relatives' houses with one or two missing. But if I want to get a REALLY good night's rest, it's most helpful if I can have all of the six ingredients. I didn't get that one night in the winter of '05 when a freak ice storm hit Raleigh and the surrounding areas.
Weather services were calling for "a chance of light snow," but what came in its place was an ice adventure residents would not forget any time soon. All roads were covered in a thin sheet of ice that made driving nearly impossible. Southerners are not used to driving on slippery roads as they are in the northern states, so there were quite a lot of accidents and near accidents that day.Eight hours?
The media would report that it took some motorists 8 hours or more to travel just a few miles to get home from work or school that day. Traffic barely crawled. I left my office at 1:30 that afternoon and at 7:00 that evening I had only traveled five miles. I still had another five miles left. The later in the day it got, the slower traffic would become.
The last straw was when I had gotten to one of the main roads in the city. It took 45 minutes to make the left turn onto the road - (I think I counted about 7-10 traffic lights I sat through trying to make that turn.) Then I sat on that road for three hours, traveling only 2/10 mile. Two tenths of a mile. That's a bit over a thousand FEET. I called my wife three times in the three hours and told her I was still trying to pass a certain automobile dealership
Finally, I got sick of waiting and cut down a side street that took me to a local shopping mall
. I figured if I crashed there for the night, I could try to tackle perhaps a clearer road in the morning. After sitting in my car for eight and a half hours, I was exhausted and hungry. I called my wife and told her I'd be there in the morning. It was ten o'clock.
As luck would have it, the local sports bar
took pity on me and served me a chicken platter five minutes after the kitchen had closed, so at least I finally got a good hot meal that evening. I checked traffic after my dinner, but found it was still backed up, so I returned inside the mall to try to get some sleep.Sleep?
Getting that sleep, on the other hand, proved to be elusive. At first I sprawled out on one of the sofas the mall has strewn about within the interior hallways. But I wasn't there five minutes when security informed me that all stranded motorists were asked to stay in the food court area if they intended to spend the night. There were many mothers and kids there with blankets they had in their minivans, but otherwise there were no really good places to lay down to try to get some rest.
All I had in my car was an additional heavy jacket, so that was to become my bed, or half-bed as it were. The food court floor was hard and cold. The area was somewhat well-lit and still quite noisy with mothers tending to kids and people walking about. It didn't feel too safe for sleeping, either.
But sleep I did get, for at about 2:00 I awoke and realized I had indeed fallen asleep. I got up, "refreshed" myself in the men's room and returned to my "bed." I tried to sleep again, but then I had a thought. It occurred to me that unlike when I entered the mall, now I was well fed, and somewhat rested. Why not give it a go and hit the road again?
Sure enough traffic had cleared by then. In fact, in the remaining five miles to my home, I think I saw only about three other cars on the road. (I did see, however, many cars OFF the road and abandoned - victims of the bad icy conditions.) It took the usual 15 minutes or so to travel from the mall to my house.
I walked in the door at about 2:30 in the morning, thirteen hours after I had left the office.Back to sleep
It was later it occurred to me the things I truly desire in order to get a good night's sleep, because that night, I had none of them. Unlike having bedding that's warm, soft, and long enough for my body, and an environment that's dark, quiet, and safe, my bed was cold, hard, and too short, in a place that was bright, noisy, and potentially unsafe. But for the remainder of THAT night, I had everything I needed. I can't recall the last time I felt so comfortable in a bed.
I also don't think I'll ever forget that night.
Labels: humor, weather, what's up with that?