Thursday, January 27, 2011

Walking home through the snowstorm, feeling lucky

I was on a bus that drove no faster than 5 mph. I was on a bus that got stuck in the snow. I had to walk home through the snowstorm.

When I got home, our power was on, so we could learn about all of our friends in the area who were trapped by falling trees and stuck in commutes that were somehow taking them farther away from home.

Now that I'm heading out to dig out the car, I'm not feeling so lucky, but really, I'm just wondering, Do I really need my fleece-lined Carhartts here in Virginia?

The answer is, of course, yes.

And once I'm done with that, I need to come back in, shake of the snow, have another warm cup of half-caf and figure out if any buses or trains are running today and hope I don't have to walk all the way in to work. Not that that's possible really.

Why bother?

Because I started my new job last July, which means that what little leave I accrued was sucked up by Thanksgiving and Christmas trips. I work at a place that, despite common perception, never really closes, despite what you may hear on the news about the federal government status in and around D.C., and I happen to work for the agency that's responsible for keeping that place operational at all times: roads and sidewalks clear, lights on, heat running and so forth.

That means that our agency never really closes either. This would be fine if I had enough leave, but I don't, or if I was allowed to telework yet, but I'm not.

And when I'm just thinking about work, that's all fine. The place is important enough, and I am lucky enough to work there. But when I start thinking about all the snowballs, sled rides and snow angels I'll miss back here at home, that's when I wonder why I do this.

I think about how my pay is frozen harder and deeper than the ground outside, and about the millions of people who aren't getting paid at all, having been unemployed for years now.

I think about how I work in a windowless room underground where it's too hot in the winter and too cold in the summer, and about the guy I see who sleeps on the Metro vent grate under a mountain of blankets, just to keep from freezing to death at night.

I think about all the events that are part of the normal daily fabric of life of 3B and Jewel I miss during my hours commuting and working, and about all those kids whose normal is hospital rooms and hair loss.

I think about how lucky I am.

Papa Bradstein is hoping he doesn't have to walk his bike 200 miles through the snow, uphill both ways, into the wind, but he will, if that's what it takes.

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