The weather in Chicago has improved immeasurably from two weeks ago, when the "Great Blizzard of 2011" hit, dumping over 2o inches of snow in less than 24 hours. The blizzard did not discriminate, stopping city and suburban traffic, CTA and Metra trains and buses. Beautiful Lake Shore Drive became a parking lot, with drivers stranded in their vehicles, some in excess of 10 hours.
Not surprisingly, controversy and criticisms abounded following the blizzard.
From my perspective, as a relatively new sole practitioner, I lost a day of productive work. The blizzard began tuesday mid-day, and the city of Chicago - "the city that works," emptied out early, with commuters flooding the train stations to head out to the suburbs, and city-dwellers hitting the street to motor home. Those who left early enough, made it home safely. Those who delayed - or left at the normal end-of-day, were met with trains delays and closed streets.
My extremely overly-optimistic husband believed that we would be coming to the office, as usual, on Wednesday - one day post Blizzard. I snickered.
We left at 3:20 p.m., and arrived at our home, which is exactly 3.2 miles from our office, one-hour and forty minutes later. Having gone to the grocery the day prior to the Blizzard, we had plenty of supplies on hand, and I was able to cook dinner, feed the dogs, and spend the evening watching my favorite Tuesday television: The Biggest Loser and Parenthood. I could hear the wind blowing outside our house, and actually heard the thunder and saw the lightening. But, we never lost power and I was able to get the dachshunds outside for their potty times prior to bedtime.
I slept like a baby.
The next morning, I got up at my usual time - and found my overly-optimistic husband dressed in his lawyer-clothes on the sofa, looking a bit distressed. "We can't get out of the house," he said. "I can't open the door."
Having two little creatures who are not trained to use indoor plumbing, I was a bit panicked. I opened the side door and encountered a wall of snow. I opened the front door and again encountered snow, but was able to push the door open far enough to at least grant access to the most brave dachshund, Leo. I shoveled a small path down the stairs, and then a small patch on the front sidewalk, and the dachshunds accomplished their mission.
BUT, we were not going to the office on this Wednesday.
We were able to get out of our garage by 3:00 p.m., but the neighborhood streets were not manageable for the remainder of the day. We spent the day lounging, watching bad TV and news reports about the effects of the blizzard.
We went to the office at the usual time on Thursday. But, the mail was delayed, the Circuit Court of Cook County was closed for two days, and the legal community ground to a halt.
I thought back to the days when I was a salaried associate at a thriving law firm - this "free day" would have been welcomed. But as a sole practitioner, I lost an opportunity to create billable hours, to find new clients and to move my current clients forward.
The whole experience made me nervous. It took a few days, if not a week, for the pace to return to normal. Mail service took longer - receivables that should have been deposited by the end of the week, were not even received until the end of the following week.
The thaw is currently ongoing - and I am relieved that the "Great Blizzard of 2011" is history.