So, yeah. It snowed. In the south. Let me bust your myths about that. And let me start by stating that I lived in upstate New York for 3 years where it snowed from October to May, then NYC for four years where it snows less than that, but still quite a bit. So I know about real snow. It was part of the reason we moved back to the south. The south does not get much snow, particularly in central Alabama. We don't have snow plows or a salt reserve or snow tires. No one has chains for their tires, and unless they are transplants to Alabama, very few people know how to drive on snow. So when it snows, southerners panic. Contrary to what I've read on Facebook, this does not make us idiots.
Yesterday, we heard that a town two hours south of us would get a couple of inches, but that the most the Birmingham area would see was a light dusting. Schools were not delayed. We had four schools in our theatre at 9:30am for a show. At 10:00, a teacher from one of the schools got up and left the theatre. She told one of our staff members that her school needed to leave. They'd just gotten a text that their school was closing and they needed them to bring the bus back. I stopped the show and got that school out. We finished the show for the other 3 schools who were there. At about 10:30, I went outside to see a steady snowfall. I immediately talked to my boss and other staffers and we decided to cancel our second show of the day. We ended rehearsal for our show opening next week and sent everyone home. I got in my car at 11:00.
The drive was a NIGHTMARE. Traffic was very heavy on the interstate. People were slipping all over the place. Tons of cars got stuck. Trucks jack-knifed. I saw so many cars with spinning tires. Had I known road conditions were this bad, I would have stayed at work and walked to a friend's house that evening or gotten a hotel room. I kept going carefully. I crawled down the interstate. I sat still a lot, which allowed me a chance to text with Marcus and friends. I made it just over the county line before I had to get off the interstate. I heard from Marcus and the radio that the highway leading to our house was closed. Thank God one of my work friends lives just off the exit where I got off the road. She is 9 months pregnant and her husband was stuck in town, so it worked out well that I ended up at her placce. It took me 2 hours and 45 minutes from the time I got off the interstate to get to her house (about 3 miles), but I made it. I was hungry and cold and terrified and freaked out and I REALLY had to go to the bathroom, and it's a miracle I didn't run out of gas. I left my car at a gas station because she lives up a very steep hill, which I hiked up. Ok, truth be told? There were some teenaged boys sledding down the hill and I had one of them kind of pull me up the steepest part. My friend greeted me with a warm blanket and a boatload of chocolate. I had been in my car for six hours by the time I stopped, so I was absolutely starving and exhausted. She made us a lovely pizza for dinner and I slept like a log in her guest bedroom. I left her house around 1:00 this afternoon, figuring it was then or never. It took me just about an hour to get home, but I had the good fortune of getting on the interstate behind a scraper truck (a little crane clearing one lane), so I followed that truck all the way to my exit.
Now that I'm home and safe, I keep saying, "No big deal." But it was a huge deal. It was so scary. Some people are still stuck. One of my actors left her car on the interstate and walked a mile to sleep in an office building where the heat was broken. Another friend slept in a Walmart. Countless people were trapped overnight in their cars. No one knew it would be this bad. 4000 children were stuck in their schools overnight. I cannot even imagine that as a parent.
So if you think we southerners are silly about snow or that we overreact, that's why. Next time there's snow in the forecast I certainly hope they have the sense to delay openings or cancel schools altogether. I, for one, will proceed with more caution.
Thank you so much to all those who checked in on me, especially during the last couple of hours of my drive yesterday when my phone had died. I'm staying put for the next day or two.