Friday, 4 November 2011

A Classic Knee-jerk

Back in January on a frosty morning around noon.....the DC weather guys came to realize this unusual cold front was going to deliver four inches of snow between 4PM and 7PM.  Within an hour, the authority in DC over government workers....determined that was good enough to dismiss the folks who live far off at around 1:30 that afternoon, and by 2:30....everyone else was supposed to leave work.

My humble guess is that barely a quarter of all capital government workers left when they were supposed to.  Me?  I live only four miles up the road and figured I could leave by 3:30.  I discovered as I exited the building that the bus system was an issue, and I didn't get to really leave the Pentagon until 4PM.  Within three minutes, we were stalled.  The snow was coming down in a massive amount.  It was barely freezing, but this was all turning in slush.

By 4:30 that afternoon....I'd be guessing that well over a quarter million folks were stalled.  By 6:00, a number of folks just gave up and started walking home....leaving their car on the interstate or in some grocery parking lot.

The capital region authority has been thinking over the episode for months.  So this week, they've decided that something is broke, and they really need to fix it.  It is a classic knee-jerk episode.  The new rule?  When they direct you to leave.....you leave.  If you violate the leave order.....you end staying until normal leave time.

I sat and pondered over this deal.  Would there be door monitor folks to force folks into staying?  Would we end up with a larger problem if tens of thousands of folks were forced to stay until 5PM?  Should we just plan to bring a sleeping bag into work and expect to be stuck there....instead of out on the interstate?

The comical side to this story is that the January storm has been described as a "forty-year" storm....meaning we might get this unique dumping of four inches in two hours, in a slushy fashion....once in forty years.  Is it even worth spending hundreds of hours developing a new snow policy and getting folks all upset?