WASHINGTON – My friends from Chicago, Buffalo, Los Angeles and Boston say we in the D.C. area don’t know about bad weather or bad traffic. They say when it comes to getting from point A to point B, Washington is a wimpy weather city.
Getting to and from work in many places is tough. Long commutes, traffic jams and bottlenecks are part of life in the big city, and when it comes to obstacles, the nation’s capital has got to be the leader of the pack.
Take this past Tuesday, for example.
On Monday night, I watched the local weather forecast for Tuesday on all four local TV channels. This was no easy task. I have one TV set and a remote that likes to spit out batteries.
By the close of each broadcast, I was scared to death. The laxative ads were wasted on me. Each weather person said there was a good chance it would rain. Between the possibility of rain, and the pollen produced by our mild winter and early spring, even a pinch of rain could spell disaster on the roads.
That and the stink bugs, which I read and hear — but have yet to see — are everywhere, menacing life as we know it.
Watching the weather on television was a big mistake. I had trouble sleeping. The talk of dire warnings of rain, even a little, made living in Damascus (Syria, not Maryland) sound like life at a resort. Twice I was jolted awake by what I thought might be a giant stink bug.
I got up early Tuesday morning (which is easy when you really never get to sleep) and turned on the radio. Three stations confirmed it had indeed rained overnight, and hardly anyone had ever seen anything like it. Some stations were jolly. Some somber. But all agreed that it had rained in much of the D.C. area.
One TV station speculated the light rain might ruin the cherry blossoms by stripping the early bloomers of their bloom. One radio forecaster said while the rain may clear the air briefly, it would just increase production of that pesky pollen.
Public radio found a farmer in Iowa who said it would be a mess if there was a seasonable frost.
By this point, I was sweating bullets. Now what?
I was sure — well, pretty sure — I could make it to the car that morning. But what if I slipped? Water makes grass slippery, right? Also, what if I inhaled millions of pollen spores as I hurtled to the ground? Or what if I fell into a stink bug mound?
The terror of the forecasts conjured up a thousand hazards. You know how people say your whole life passes in front of you? It does. There was even this beautiful white light.
If I fainted or fell, would my neighbor (a school crossing guard) spot me? Could she (or would she) come over and administer the kiss of life? Would she be able to lift me into the safety of a closed car or at least wrap me in a stink bug proof blanket or tarp?
I made the mad dash. In my haste to get into the car, I broke off the key. Fortunately, I had another key and went in the other door.
The car was damp, but drivable. No stink bugs anywhere. Pollen seemed minimal.
As a I drove to work, I caught the weather on a dozen stations. All had the same dire news. Traffic on I-270 had never been worse, and there was one discussion of stink bugs somehow being a danger to comb-overs.
The good news? I made it.
The bad news? It may rain again this weekend.
Mike has spent the majority of his life inside the Beltway and has an interesting and humorous perspective that he will share every Wednesday. Mike has spent his career covering the federal government for the Washington Post and now for Federal News Radio.