Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Man vs. Snow- A Travelogue

Every now and then, I just have “leave it all on the field” days that I just need to capture for posterity’s sake.

The eve of Snowpocalypse 2010 (part 2) was one such day.

But, it starts before then…

So, if you’ll recall, the weekend of Feb. 6th brought the DC area over 2 feet of snow. After playing the “Paco Toss” game where I literally threw my 4 year old up in the air and let him land in the snow-unscathed-the hard job of digging out begain in earnest.

First, we tackled the walkway, then the driveway and the cars.

By Sunday afternoon, our cars were cleared, but the street in front of us was covered.

However, 30 feet or so down the street was another road, one that is in front of a school, which had been plowed on Saturday afternoon.

So, if we could somehow create a pathway for that remaining distance, we could get our cars out to the plowed parking lot of the school.

That would mean that the NFO could get to work on Monday and that I would be able to drive to BWI airport for a scheduled 7am departure and a 3 day speaking tour to Chicago, Minneapolis, and Cincinnati.

The NFO and I planned to take turns shoveling, but as luck would have it, we found 3 entrepreneurs of El Salvadoran descent walking through the neighborhood with shovels.

“How much to dig a road for us?” I yelled.

“$75,” they replied.


That night (during halftime of the Super Bowl, in fact) I moved our cars out of the driveway (our concern was that when a plow did eventually come, it would close our exit off).

On Monday, the NFO went to work and reported that the roads, while passable, were just barely so.

Seeing as my flight from BWI was at 7, I elected to get up extra-early at 3.45am, to accommodate for the unexpected delays.

I was at the gate by 5.30am, seated and blogging away.

Only to be told that Midway airport in Chicago (my destination) would be closing at 10am…ours was to be the only flight from Baltimore that day.

We landed in the beginning of a blizzard and I made my way to the offices of Microsoft downtown via the CTA train a four block walk in driving winds, snow, and past two buildings that had signs saying “watch for falling ice,” which I am not sure how you can do in a blizzard.

But, that wasn’t it because a colleague came in after I was settled and said, “Midway is closed until 10am tomorrow.”

On the advice of Corey Perman, who had stopped by to visit, I immediately bought a 2nd ticket on Southwest for the not-yet-cancelled 1pm departure to Minneapolis, which would get me in on time for my 3.30pm presentation.

Their policy is: people with tickets automatically get on…if you’ve been on a cancelled flight, you get a “priority standby.”

As the keynote speaker, however, I couldn’t take the chance, and Corey said “buy the ticket, deal with the refund later.”

After the presentation (which had 120 registered and 30 showing up with another 30 attending via the rapidly assembled Live Meeting webcast), I had to call an audible.

Shari Lennon swung by in her taxi home from work—the plan had been to go there for dinner and then out to Skokie and my sister-in-law for overnight accommodations.

However, as the white-out blizzard continued and the time to get to Midway became a factor, Shari and Will (her husband) advised that staying with them would be smarter as it would save valuable time on the return to Midway the next day…given that the weather was a variable. My sister-in-law Aviva concurred.

The storm lifted at 5am (right around the time of an earthquake! No joke) and I took a quick cab to Midway and made the 12.40pm flight (which didn’t take off until close to 1.30).

Remember, the presentation I am giving in Minneapolis was scheduled to start at 3.30pm and the airport is 30 minutes from the Microsoft office.

Factor in baggage claim time and other disembarkation time and you have the makings of a fantastic finish…

Tune in tomorrow to find out what happened ;-)

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