Wednesday's hellish commute, described by many more than 140 characters

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 27, 2011; 9:58 PM

They'll wear them with pride, these new numbers. Like battle scars or football injuries, they'll drag out these stats at cocktail parties for years to come: 7 hours, 10 hours and even an I-coulda-been-in-Daytona Beach-by-now 13 hours.

Hmm. It's a tossup, really. Would you rather drive 13 hours to get to your house, which has no milk, bread, toilet paper or power? Or to a beach in Florida? Maybe that next slog down Interstate 95 for spring break won't seem so daunting.

Then again, that wasn't the choice when Washington's workers got into their cars Wednesday evening and set out for home just as the snow began to fall.

The transformation of that commute into ice-slicked Hades (apparently it did freeze over) will be debated for days and weeks to come.

After all, this is Washington. And a thundersnow flake can't fall without a politicized take on things.

We were just a couple of hours into the never-ending rush hour when the tweeters and Facebook posters began laying blame. It was called "epic fail" or "mega fail," and everyone was at fault: the federal government, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and even President Obama were publicly flayed for their handling of the storm by commuters trapped in their cars, texting like mad.

There were taunts about Al Gore and global warming and the tea party and the sport-utility vehicles they all supposedly drive.

The gripes were read and re-tweeted until the grumbles turned into rants, a technology-fueled echo chamber of fury that transformed commuters from pithy commentators to bug-eyed screamers.

Our super-mega-Doppler-radar-laser satellites that do everything but give us meatballs from the sky told us things were going to get ugly. The media warned folks for days that it was coming. We didn't listen.

Thousands of us can telecommute, Skype, e-mail, videoconference and, most importantly, trade office gossip from home. But as the nor'easter bore down on us, we elected to get into our cars and head into work.

This is Washington. We are important people doing important things.

Weather? Weather doesn't stop the work we do. We are Washington, and our subcommittee secondary group organizational mission-statement workshop cannot be stopped by snow!

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