When you are a Fed in the DC Metro area Monday through Friday, the OPM website tells you whether or not to report to work if there is any snow or other major weather event. However, if you have to work on the weekend, you are on your own.
In the 1990s, I ran the post library at Ft Myer next to Arlington Cemetery. On Friday evening, I was in Mechanicsburg, PA to accompany my husband to a mandatory evening function. (I can’t remember what it was, but it involved evening wear.) It had snowed all day and we thought that the event might have been canceled but Central PA routinely deals with the type of snow that would paralyze DC.
On Saturday morning, we got up extra early to shovel the snow away from the cars so that we could begin the two-hour drive back to Arlington, Virginia. The Pennsylvanians had already cleared the snow in Carlisle, PA, and south along US 15. In Maryland, I-270 was in almost as good a shape. I-95 in Maryland and Virginia was tolerable. The roads on Ft Myer had not been touched.
Fortunately, my Chrysler convertible had front-wheel drive, as long as the snow was shallow enough for the wheels to haul the low chassis through the snow. My husband’s four-wheel-drive Jeep did better in the snow but a higher center of gravity meant it was not as stable as my convertible when changing lanes on icy highways.
When we got to the library, the Jeep lead way into the partially shoveled parking lot. My husband drove the Jeep back and forth creating parking spaces for both of our cars. Stepping into knee-deep snow, we waded to the front door of the library. He made coffee in the staff room while I began sweeping off the front step enough to empty the book drop outside the front door, which was fortunately almost empty.
After a quick cup of coffee to warm up, we got back into our winter jackets to begin shoveling the path we had created wading up to the front door. The snow was heavy and wet, each shovelful was a struggle to for two semi-fit fourty-somethings.
“Why don’t they get some soldiers out to help us?” he asked, gazing down the street at the barracks a few blocks away.
“Don’t know who to call on the weekend,” I explained.
We kept shoveling and thinking of all of those nearby 18-year-olds who could have finished this off in a much shorter period of time and might have enjoyed the chance to have fun in the snow.
After an hour, he went back into the library. By now the ten-foot sidewalk was half shoveled. The library had opened at 11 and so far no one had come out to brave the snow. I continued shoveling for another hour and was almost finished when he came out with some salt to melt the slushy sidewalk.
I had just finished shoveling and he had most of the slush melted on the half of the sidewalk to the driveway. The half of the sidewalk to the street was still full of snow although the base engineers had plowed the street by now.
A lady parked her car on the street at what would have been the sidewalk if it had been shoveled. Although not an authorized parking spot, it was the quickest path from the street to the library front door. Grimacing, she stepped into the snow and marched as fast she could through the snow.
“Why haven’t you shoveled this yet?” she demanded, ignoring the half a sidewalk that we had shoveled.
“We did shovel the half to the parking lot,” I replied, pointing the shovel at the wet side of the sidewalk.
She threw her book onto the counter and huffed off.
About thirty minutes later, a sergeant came by with eight young soldiers, carrying shovels. They spaced themselves out and had the rest of the sidewalk shoveled in about twenty minutes. When I asked where they had been that morning, they looked at each other, laughed, and said “Asleep in our bunks.”