Tuesday, February 13, 2007

White Tuesday

My night class was cancelled tonight and we got sent home from work early from the snow/ice story which hit Philly today. We weren't supposed to get hit with much, but by the afternoon we already got a few inches of snow which was supposed to continue through the night. It brought to mind one of the scarier days of my high school years. (And maybe, if my friends George, Jeff or Josh read this they can put in their own testimonials if they remember it.)

As I've said countless times, West Orange is located on a hill. The high school was located on top of the hill. Half the town lived on the bottom of the hill, meaning we rode buses to school. To get up the hill, one had to drive up one of three primary roads: Northfield Avenue, Mt. Pleasant Avenue or Eagle Rock Avenue. These roads are rather steep for New Jersey, and at the apex of all three one can get a skyline view of Manhattan. Accidents galore happen on all three of these roads (and I-280, which also cuts through town.) By far, the most treacherous is Eagle Rock Avenue, which I lived right off of. Eagle Rock was probably the busiest road in town, and it also winds and twists in a series of "S" shaped curves. It's a thoroughly insane road.

The storm which rolled into town was supposed to come that Tuesday evening. But it started snowing earlier and heavier than predicted. The snow was so bad, officials decided to close the school down a few hours earlier than the usual 12:30 close time. The announcement was made over the loudspeaker and everyone celebrated and left.

We went outside to the bus line only to find... there were no school buses in sight for those of us who lived down-the-hill. None of them could make it up any of the aforementioned streets. We were ushered back inside and told to wait patiently for the buses to arrive.

We waited. And waited. And waited. Periodically, an announcement was made over the loudspeaker for us to remain in a classroom, that the buses would arrive shortly. Soon, the official end of school passed. We kept on waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

Before the traditional end-of-the-day came, a Lord of the Flies type of situation was devolving in our school. There was no school, but we were forced to be in it. Kids walked around in large groups and just did whatever they wanted -- knocking over garbage cans, vandalizing anything in sight, trying to start fights, etc. Just an ugly atmosphere (that I probably contributed in by doing some petty vandalism myself.) The teachers started to leave as quickly as they could. The cafeteria was closed so there was no food. It was just as awful a situation as you could think -- being stuck at school, surrounded largely by troublemakers, with absolutely no clue when you could get home.

Eventually, I met up with my friends Kris and George, both of whom lived in my neighborhood. George's mom was working as a substitute teacher at the grammar school across the street. George found out she was still stuck at work so we beelined out of our school -- the best bet for our safety -- and found her, as she had to wait for her elementary school kids to get picked up.

We had to wait for hours, and we raided their small boxes of raising and boxed apple juice for nourishment. And then finally we could leave.

We left at 6, abot 6 hours after school was supposed to come to an end. It took us an hour to get home, when the trip would usually last about 5-10 minutes. Kids from the school were just leaving in droves to walk home in the snowstorm, down the steep hill in really awful weather. George's mom got stuck a few times driving and we had to get out and push.

Just another crazy day in West Orange.


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