Monday, February 15, 2010

An Urban Girl's Rural Challenges

I know I've been gone for quite a while and have left some of you wondering where I was. Things with my mother finally came to a crisis, and I didn't have the energy or the will to do more than soldier on. While the situation still isn't resolved, there's an emerging path ahead.

I'm in the middle of a new challenge. Not sure how consistently I'll be posting, but I thought I'd share this one over the next few days.

Survival is hard. But I’ve always known that. As a female management analyst at a large university, I’ve honed my professional skills to a fine edge. I can spot problems and develop alternate plans at a moment’s notice. Unfortunate-ly, like the cobbler and his shoeless children, my personal life is never as well-organized as my work life.

I was recently tested at a very primitive level. Instead of holding my own against a VP during a debate on the viability of a new software system, I was forced to go mano-a-mano with a true cutthroat adversary: Mother Nature. And, let me tell you, that old bitch doesn’t even pretend to play fair. Over a four-day period, she sucker punched me more than once.

I did a few things right; I did a whole bunch of them wrong.

Okay, I know those of you who live in New York, Chicago and even, on occasion, Washington, D.C. will laugh at this lame tale from Dallas, Texas. But let’s face it. You northern guys are prepared for snow. In contrast, the entire city of Dallas goes crazy when faced with a thin veneer of frost. We speak in dire tones of the dangers of “black ice”--that transparent glaze that masquerades as a cleared sidewalk or a dry road in order to catch you unaware.

The average annual snowfall in Dallas is 2.5 inches. The occasional snow day is like that little girl in second grade who insisted on wearing dresses to school and cried if she got dirty during recess. Her pale prettiness evoked admiration, but didn’t have much of an impact on her peers. By contrast, the snowfall Dallas experienced this past weekend was like that girl from sixth grade—the one who was French kissing while the rest of us were still practicing closed lip maneuvers on our pillows. She scared us, exhilarated us and encouraged us to move beyond our safety zones.

This 2010 blast blanketed the D/FW area with more than 12 inches of snow in as many hours--nearly five times the average annual snowfall. It is now officially on record as the most snowfall to ever hit Texas in a 24-hour period. My own backyard yield was nearly 15 inches. As short as I am, that meant I was practically up to my knees in white stuff.

My latest work assignment has me reorganizing an ailing billing department. When the winter blast started on Thursday, February 11, all but one of my crew of a dozen managed to make it into work despite the sleet that had begun coating the streets. I didn’t experience much trouble on my own way into the office although the trip took much longer than the usual 22 minutes. I remember being annoyed by the pickup trucks and SUVs that sped past those of us travelling at a sensible 30 MPH over bridges and overpasses. The size of a vehicle is frequently in direct inverse proportion to the size of the brain of its driver.

During the course of Thursday, the freezing rain gradually morphed into big, fluffy flakes that just kept coming, coming . . . and coming. The novelty soon gave way to concern as the weatherman offered ominous warnings of dropping temperatures. I suggested my group go home at 3 PM before things started to freeze and made travel conditions even more iffy. My Financial Coordinator and I stayed behind to mind the shop. Monday was Presidents’ Day, and I planned to celebrate the holiday by taking Friday off so I had plenty to keep me busy.

At 4:40, I decided staying any later would be foolhardy, and I set off on what would become an epic trek across Dallas County. The journey took almost 2 ½ hours, much of it spent inching slowly forward at 0 MPH surrounded by other vehicles doing the same thing. The tedium of the drive was occasionally enlivened by spikes of adrenaline when one of those idiots in a SUV whizzed past on the slushy shoulder.

My throat was dry and scratchy, and I said a quick prayer I wasn't starting a sore throat.

Midway through the journey, my next-door neighbor Ken called my cell. He wanted me to know that my power and telephone were both out. We talked for probably 45 minutes as I crawled another mile and a half along the Interstate.

FIRST ERROR: Knowing both my power and land line were not operational, I continued to run down my cell phone chatting.


Maria Zannini said...

Are you still home? My invitation still holds, okay?

I'll even tell my boys that Bob is off limits. :o)

Call me if you need me.

Maya Reynolds said...

Still at home. Still acting like a reality show survivor.

Thanks, but Bob has been stressed enough over the last four days. He's trailing behind me like a refugee afraid of being left behind.

Warm regards,


Marie Tuhart said...

Maya, great to see you back. I was worried about you. You've had a time of it dear.

Maya Reynolds said...

Thanks, Marie. I appreciate your concern more than I can say.

Colleen said...

Okay, I read a more-recent post first and am now starting at the beginning... Holy crap! As a Canadian used to snowfall, ice storms, blizzards, etc., I can empathize with your journey home. I've been there many times myself. It's horrible, terrifying even. For someone not accustomed to dealing with it, I can't imagine how you must have felt.
And you are a beautiful writer.