This morning, I woke up to some light flurries in the Metro DC area, but what I really want to talk about is yesterday’s snow-filled day. I spent most of the day in the office and the blinds weren’t open. I happened to leave the office and catch a glimpse of the outside — snow — lots of it. This is my first time living in the DC area and everything I’ve been told about living here is that snow is (not common). Having grown up in Canada and spent a great deal of time living in places where there are 4 seasons, the snow didn’t bother nor affect me, really — or so I thought.
As I understand the importance of physical exercise to maintain a clear-functioning mind, I make a point of working out. I also had a few errands that I needed to take care of. I started the car and then dusted off the snow, which was rather wet and heavy, before pulling out of the driveway and heading down the road. I live in a place where I have to drive on a two-lane road for about 5 miles (in nearly all directions) before there are lanes with which I can legally pass someone.
About 1.5 miles into the trip, I came upon a school bus. I know that school buses typically will go near (or less) than the speed limit on this particular two-lane road, so when the school bus was going ~30mph on a 45mph road, I still didn’t think too much of it. I made it to the end of the road, turned onto a road with two lanes (in both directions), and accelerated to the speed limit, before engaging cruise control. After about 2.5 miles, I “caught up” to traffic.
It wasn’t that there was a lot of volume, no. It was just that everyone was going particularly slow. At first, I grew a little frustrated with this, which is understandable. I grew up in the Greater Toronto Area. Heck, we even once had to call in the military to help with the snow (twice!) because there was so much of it. Suffice to say, I’m comfortable driving in snow. Moments after my frustration grew, it subsided. I quickly realized that these people were probably nowhere nearly as comfortable as I was driving in the snow. Once I arrived at this state of compassion, my frustration disappeared. I eventually was able to move around the crowd and drive at the speed limit, but that’s not the point I want to highlight.
The first point, compassion. By putting myself in the shoes of the other drivers, I fostered a sense of compassion for their situation. Not only compassion, but empathy. I, too, (of course), had once never driven in snow and had to learn how a car behaved in the snow.
The second point, perspective. I would gather that a fair number of the drivers out on the roads in DC yesterday were not expecting to get into their cars after work to be greeted by a snowstorm. When they were, there could have been any number of reactions. Some may have cursed the snow because they wanted to make it home (or to the sports lounge) to see the college football national championship. Some may have wanted to race home to see their family. For others, the snow presented an opportunity to assume a new perspective on their situation. As I said earlier, snow is not a common occurrence in this part of the world. Weather has a way of reorganizing our priorities.