Well, we made it through last night’s storms unscathed. No one is hurt, and we have power, air conditioning, cable and Internets! YAY for human innovation!
I tell ya, I’ve NEVER seen storms such as the ones I saw last night. Frankly, I didn’t even realize we were headed for Stormpocalypse. It wasn’t until the lights began to flicker at the house, and the Internets decided to blow up, that I realized something was amiss.
The Redhead and I stood in front of the impossibly large living room window in our house, and watched the lightning light up the sky and the wind abuse the trees in our very green neighborhood. A large limb came crashing down from our roof right in front of the window, and the Redhead jumped back, and out of the room, screaming, “ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!”
I wasn’t concerned until I realized I had to pick up Teeny from work. Teeny works at a large mall, approximately 12 miles from our house. The option was to either take Rt. 50 West or I-66 West. My first thought was Rt. 50. It would be quiet that time of night, and I knew I-66 had construction going on. As I got into the left turn lane to get on 50 West, I realized some impossible fuckmonkey had the entire exit blocked. He had apparently taken a wrong turn, and instead of simply driving a block on 50 and taking a U-turn, he thought it might be best to back out of the exit, thereby blocking it – back onto the road from which he had just turned. Back out. In the rain. With tree limbs flying all around. In the dark.
I decided it was safer for all involved if I just drove past and took the I-66 exit. It was definitely safer for the massive dildo who was blocking the exit trying to back out in the dark and torrential downpour (I had this compulsion to jump out of my car, and take a tire iron to his head), and it was safer for me (I had no desire to wind up in jail on assault charges). So I drove a few blocks further and got on I-66 West.
Big fucking mistake. Huge.
As soon as I got on the highway, I realized that a) there was traffic – a shit ton of it and b) it was all stalled because the entire Interstate was littered with trees. Not just limbs and leaves. Trees. Huge massive downed trees blocking several lanes at one time. Not only that, but the geniuses at VDOT had scheduled highway road work for that night, and decided to SHUT. DOWN. THE. ENTIRE. INTERSTATE. leaving only one tiny shoulder for this mass of traffic to use. Never mind that no road work could be done in this storm. There was no equipment or construction workers in sight. So technically, they could have just opened the highway back up – at least until the storms left the area – to allow traffic to pass, especially considering it was already in a snag thanks to the fallen trees. But no. They dispatched one State Trooper to sit there and watch to ensure that no one traversed the construction barrels that were blocking off the entire Interstate, even though no roadwork could be done in those storms. They closed off the highway for no reason, and the State Trooper sat there and watched everyone struggle to get through this mess.
We’re from the government, and we’re here to help.
It took me nearly an hour to drive the 12 miles to pick up Teeny from work. I swore that I wouldn’t take I-66 back. Too many fallen trees. Besides, I needed to fill up, so I decided to take Rt. 50 home and stop at a gas station en route.
Big fucking mistake. Huge.
1) The cops had blocked off every left turn, because the traffic lights were fried by the storm. After several circumventive (yes, I just made this word up. Shut up.) measures, I finally got onto Rt. 50, but every single solitary gas station had closed. Not a single one operating.
Well, we got home anyway, and I had about a teaspoon of gas left. I figured I’d fill up in the morning.
Big fucking mistake. Huge.
I promised Cara Ellison and her daughter that I would take them to the Pentagon and show them around. I had planned on filling up and picking them up around noon. Only two problems:
1) Every gas station in the area was still non-operational
2) Since all the street lights were out, every left turn was blocked. The authorities literally decided that it was easier to not allow anyone to make a left turn than to post a cop at every dead intersection.
Guess what turn we had to make to get to Cara’s house! Just guess!
At this point, my car was running on little more than fumes, and there was only one operational traffic light where I could make a left turn. Only one problem: the intersection before that one was blocked off with traffic cones, indicating to motorists: DO NOT TURN LEFT HERE!!! Did they care? Nope! They circumvented the cones and blocked traffic in the process, waiting for all the cars going in the opposite direction to pass, so they could make their (prohibited) left turn. Because obviously where they needed to go was much more important than anyone else’s destination. Think that caused a back-up? It certainly did!
I finally made it to the intersection at which I could actually make a left turn – after much cursing and screaming and hitting the steering wheel, and scaring both munchkins half to death. The next step was to find gas.
Not a single working gas station to be found.
I texted Cara and asked if there was a single operational gas station by her house. She said she knew of one, so after I picked her up, that is where we went.
Big fucking mistake. Huge.
The single, solitary Exxon that was open had four different entrances from four different sides, with cars trying to get in and get gas from every entrance. Lines to the gas pumps were beginning to block the streets, and the station was running out of gas. I wasn’t around for the fuel shortages of the 1970s, but I imagine this was a taste of what that fiasco was like back then.
The first pumps to go were the cheapest “Regular” ones. Did that stop the Great Unwashed from sucking every drop of the cheap gas from those pumps? Of course not! Do you know what happens when a pump gets low? It slows to a trickle. So imagine a Toyota minivan filling up for 20 minutes, topping off, while everyone else sits around in 100 degree heat waiting for him to get done. And he wasn’t the only one. Another douchebag did exactly the same thing. The pump apparently dribbled gas into his tank, while he calmly cleaned out trash from his trunk and watched slackjawed as everyone else waited for him to get done.
It took an hour for us to get to the pump. I bought just enough gas to get us out of there and back on the road, somehow managed to weave my way out of the gas station, and we finally made it to the Pentagon.
A few observations from the fiasco.
It was instructive to see the operators of the Exxon do absolutely nothing to maintain positive control of the traffic flow on their property. Instead of blocking off entrances that caused jams, and controlling the flow of traffic into the station from a single direction, they simply stood by and shrugged as motorists attempted to maneuver themselves to the pumps.
It was interesting to watch tempers flare. An Audi trying to get at a pump wound up blocking the exit from the Exxon. Another motorist yelled at him to move back and allow him enough room to maneuver back to the street. The driver of the Audi just stood there with a look on his face I could probably describe as a monkey fucking a football until several other people ganged up on him and began yelling at him to back up.
The people in Arlington have no concept of how to behave at an intersection in which traffic lights are not operational. In any civilized society, the intersection would be treated like a 4-way stop sign. Oh no. Not around here. Whenever we stopped at an intersection to allow folks going in the opposite direction to take their turn and pass, invariably some third-world monkey cab driver would simply blow through the intersection without consideration for others. Several others would follow him, blocking anyone who was polite enough to stop and allow the cross traffic to pass from actually taking their turn. It was do or die.
I remember driving in Kosovo during my deployment and joking around that traffic laws were merely suggestions in that third-world shithole. This was no joke. The third-worlders reverted to their pre-civilization ways and were literally wreaking havoc!
Suggestion to Arlington County: next time spend a little extra money and post cops at the busiest intersections with traffic light outages! You tax us enough to be able to afford paying them a bit of overtime in order to avoid the idiocy we saw today.