Our Commute To Work
2012-12-06 00:23:00.000 – Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Meteorologist
Truck & Van w/ chains was part of todays commute.
If you work a typical 9 to 5 job, a commute is part of your daily routine. You wake up, get ready, and then head out the door to hop in a car, wait at a bus stop, ride on a train, board a plane, or walk. If all goes right, you show up on time, do your job, then at the end of the day, you take your method of transportation home and call it a day waiting for the process to repeat the next day. Now, if you have been at a job long enough, you know precisely how long it takes to get to work and give yourself enough time to arrive with minutes to spare. But, that is assuming everything goes right, which seldom happens. So, you might give yourself a bit of wiggle room by leaving earlier, setting the clocks ahead, using radio for commute updates, check smartphone information, etc. But, sometimes, something just happens and you’re left there waiting as you call in apologizing for being late. Fortunately, this kind of stuff is rare for all of us working on the summit, but it does happen on occasion.
Now, since we live and work up here for a week at a time, our typical daily commute consists of us shuffling upstairs from the living quarters to the office above. But, this isn’t when we’re going to be calling up to apologize for being late. Those calls come from when we are affected by outside forces on Wednesday when one shift heads down off the mountain for a week and a new one comes up for their work week. For this to happen, three things must occur. First, everyone has to meet at the base on time and load the vehicles. The second part is then taking said vehicles up the road to the summit. And third is taking said vehicles down the mountain and dropping everyone off. On a good day in summer, taking out the meetings we have, a shift change can take just over an hour. In the dead of winter, a good day without meetings takes between two to three hours. But these are ideal conditions and if you know Mt Washington, ideal days are not very common.
Usually steps two and three are where shift change delays arise. Trips up/down may be slow going or delayed due to dangerous weather like blinding snow, whipping winds, cold temperatures or heavy and deep snow drifts. Occasionally, it might be a mechanical delay where something in the snow tractor, truck, or van breaks and we have to wait for it to be replaced or repaired. Sometimes, it might be an obstacle like a fallen tree or a broken down car on the road that must first be removed. But, these delays are common and are ones that we all expect. It is the delays in step one (getting to the base of the mountain) that can sometimes cause the biggest issues. It might be a lost or confused new intern or volunteer. It might be car trouble. In these cases, calling might be difficult since the mountains inhibit cell service. Or, it might be road construction, or, as in my case this morning, a giant turbine on Route 16 closing down traffic. And since, again, we live in a mountainous region, when a section of road becomes pinched off, all you can do is wait or take a detour several miles out of the way, sometimes outweighing the amount of time it takes to just wait. And while it may have been my turn causing the delay this week, I hope all my coworkers had some understanding as it is only a matter of time until something delays them and in turn, us, on shift change day.
Ryan Knapp, Weather Observer/Meteorologist