Thursday, February 3, 2011

Blizzaster, Day 1

You may have heard that Chicago and other areas of the Midwest have recently experienced a blizzard. To me, we’ve had a pretty mild Winter so far and the blizzard is exciting. I recognize that it’s more of a nuisance and even dangerous for many others. But like I said – for me and my family, it’s been exciting!


It means a “snow day” from work and school, watching interesting news coverage, looking at photos of how the snow and wind have changed our normal landscapes. It means re-hashing your “blizzard story” with everyone you run into over the next week, or until everyone is bored with it. So, here’s my blizzard story!


We began hearing about the blizzard several days before it hit, and of course, people began cleaning out the grocery stores, stocking up on gasoline and kerosene. And then others had a good time making fun of the people who were stockpiling – jokes about how snow zombies will eat you if you attempt to go outside, jokes about how it’s just Winter, folks – not Nuclear Winter. And so on.


On the day the actual blizzard started, Tuesday, I got to my downtown Chicago Metra train station earlier than I normally do, but it was too late. The storm had already taken it’s toll on the tracks and visibility. All but one set of tracks headed out to the suburbs (where I live) were out of service. We had to wait our turn, and even that was delayed due to problems because of the weather. What is normally a 45-50 minute train ride turned into 90 minutes of sitting just outside the station and then another hour actually moving.


Most of the people in my train car were in good spirits and talking about their storm preparations, whether they’d have to work the next day, and so on. One lady in my car was very upset and kept making comments about how ridiculous it was that we were waiting for so long. Hi, um, WE’RE IN A BLIZZARD. She began complaining that she pays good money for her train service and she doesn’t understand why we couldn’t get going already. Apparently, she wasn’t listening to the multiple messages the conductor gave us over the intercom, explaining why we were delayed, and apologizing. Then she began comparing what we were going through to what is happening right now in Egypt. Hmm. Stuck in a warm train car – knowing we won’t be there all night – to violent political revolution. Yeah, sounds really similar to me!


She quieted down for a while, and at that point the conductor announced that he was opening the front car of the train (previously closed to passengers) to smokers. See, once we leave the station, they can only open the doors when we’re at an official train stop. We’d been delayed in between the station and the first stop, so it was against regulations for them to open the doors. I’m sure if we’d had to evacuate, they’d have opened them, but until that point, we were stuck inside. It was funny – as soon as he announced this, several people in my car jumped up and raced toward the front of the train. Immediately following were people from the cars behind us, barreling through our car to get to the front. The conductor was in our car at this point, and many of the smokers headed to the front car asked him if he was seriously going to let them smoke. Several people in my car lamented that they didn’t have any alcohol, that the car ahead could be a “party car”.


Sidenote – Metra used to allow alcohol on certain trains – generally evening trains. Last year when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, I rode an entire “party train” full of people going to work and people going downtown to the big victory rally/parade. Which was incidentally kicking off (literally) in front of my employer’s graduation ceremony. I’ll have to write about that sometime, it was quite a day.


My camera picked up a lot more detail than the human eye was able to – when I took this picture, I could barely see ANYTHING. I had no idea what was going to be in this shot, other than the fence and lightpost.

Later, the complaining lady began to talk about how she worked for a lawyer and that she was thinking of taking legal action against Metra. She said Metra was holding us hostage!


I finally got to my train stop and waited for my husband to pick me up. He’d left a while ago, but the roads were hard to drive on and visibility was almost nonexistant, so it took him much longer to get me than he expected. Thankfully, my station always leaves part of their vestibule open so people don’t have to wait outside if the weather is bad. We slowly drove home, and on the way, my husband lamented the fact that we weren’t in a gigantic truck and that there were consequences to our actions . . . he wanted to be able to have fun spinning circles and doing other crazy things, driving in the snow. :) We probably could have done some of it because we were just about the only people on the road.

Before I went to bed, I took this photo of our neighbor’s house, across the yard from us (we live in a townhouse development). This was taken out of our 2nd story window, looking across and down at the first story front doors of our neighbors.


Next will be Blizzaster, Day 2, with more photos. I’m also going to do a post that shows amazing photos taken from around Chicagoland.

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