It’s Monday, February 10th 2014. Two weeks ago it snowed in Atlanta. For a myriad of reasons all hell broke loose. According to meteorologist Atlanta and the surrounding areas are in for worse weather the next few days.
I stepped into the kitchen. Frigid air jolted me awake. I walked to the thermostat with dismay. 60 degrees. The temp setting said 70. Several feeble attempts to kick on the heat failed. Penelope was asleep. I got ready for work and drove into the office, promising myself I’d get in by 7 and leave by 9. I had to fix the furnace or get someone out before the snow.
When I drove into work on January 28th everything was normal. I completed the morning tasks then headed to my boss’ office. “I’m leaving shortly. Have to take a look at my furnace and get heat in the house. I’ll either be back in the office or working remotely once that’s done.” With the Chief’s blessing I headed home, making the trip in record time. I thought about what things would be like in a few hours when the snow started to fall. I remembered my fateful trip home one evening in 2011; the last time there was snow and ice on the road. I lost control of my truck, bounded up a curb, popped a tire, and counted myself lucky for not sliding into oncoming traffic.
At home I changed clothes and headed into the crawl space to troubleshoot the furnace. I hoped the igniter broke. I could run to the supply store and switch it out for less than $20. I pulled the cover off and started the furnace’s cycle. The motor kicked on. A minute later the igniter glowed, shattering my hopes of an easy repair. I inspected the rest of the until and saw nothing out of the ordinary. Finally I remembered the control board. A series of flashing lights displayed a code. I reset the unit and watched as a red light flashed three times then stopped. Flashed three times then stopped. According to the key pasted to the inside panel the pressure switch was faulty.
After a phone call to a relative with HVAC experience I confirmed the pressure switch could be replaced without blowing up the house. Thirty minutes after getting the information I’d made it to the supply store and back. I switched out the part and cut the power back on. The cycle started. The motor whirled for a minute. The igniter’s orange glow illuminated the gas jets…and they ignited! I placed the side panels back on and headed into the house. “We’ve got heat!”
I considered driving back into the office. It was only 11:30 and I still had half a day of work left. I checked the news and weather. The forecast was iffy. Snow was falling when I emerged from under the house. I decided to stay home. If it was as bad as expected I would get to the office and end up spending the night there due to impassable roads. If the weather was fine I would drive in the next morning. As nearly everyone knows the former scenario transpired. I sat at my desk, working on voice and emails. I glanced out the window. Flurries collected on the ground. Within an hour the grass vanished. Everything was white. “I am so glad I did not drive back into he office” I said.
Around 1:20 I got my first text message about the roads:
“I just got home, took me an hour when it should take 15 minutes”
Like black Friday shoppers at Wal-Mart Facebook messages, texts, emails, IM’s, and phone calls started coming. At 1:53 I got another message. A co-worker just left the office. The next message I received from him was 5:33.
“Guess what? Still sitting in traffic not far from where I was the last time I texted you. I will not be going in the office tomorrow. Should have kept my ass at home. That’s all I keep
He made it home around 10PM.
“I was thinking about all the places in Florida I could have been after an 8 hour drive.”
At 4:30 another co-worker sent me a question:
“If the batter in Prius goes to zero will the car still function?”
I snickered a little but then realized he left the office three hours ago. I assured him the gas engine would kick on and charge the battery.
On Facebook I saw the following status update from a friend:
“The bad news: I think I have now ground all the enamel off my teeth.
The good news: the moron in front of me and the idiot in back of me finally turned on their headlights.”
Later he asked for a screenshot of the Atlanta traffic website GANavigator. I complied.
I logged out of my work computer around 9:30PM. Some co-workers who left the office at 2PM were still in traffic, desperately trying to get home.
The next morning I logged in and started checking emails and Facebook for updates. One guy got stuck and ended up staying at a strangers house (thanks to the power of social networking). Another was left at the building looking for a ride at 4PM. He made it home at 4AM. And two women were still trying to get home. The next day. Their normal commutes were 45 minutes to an hour.
By noon I had confirmation everyone was safe.
While I worked Jenn and Penelope played in the snow. I wasn’t there but my camera was. Jenn took some of the best photos of Penelope and a wonderful snow angel video.