Around noon, it had started snowing … a real blizzard, and by 2 p.m. our general manager, who was a very kind and considered man, sent us all home. Although we had another three hours to go according to the general roster, he almost chased us out of the building with the words: “Be careful now and come back tomorrow, weather and state of the roads permitting.” It took me two hours to get home, that’s 2km/hour. While I was making my made way home, I was overtaken by pedestrians on struggling through the snow on the sidewalk.
Home-made tomato soup with veal/pork meatballs.
My daily itinerary (still) takes me down and up a rather steep hill. At the time I had a front-wheel drive Austin Metro – similar to the one Lady Diana used to have before her marriage to Prince Charles – with an automatic gearbox. Despite the fact that it didn’t have winter tyres, the little car behaved beautifully in the ever thickening layer of snow. I hardly had to touch the accelerator. The automatic transmission carefully and dutifully ‘pulled’ the car up the hill, while other, larger cars were slipping and sliding away. I was very nervous and stressed though, and when I glanced in the rear-view mirror, I hardly recognized myself … I looked like a lobster that had been overcooked … bright red.
At one point, when I was about half way up the hill, I saw this large bus making its way down in the opposite lane. When we were at about the same height, the driver had to brake rather abruptly in order not to run into the car in front of him. The big wheels started spinning and the huge bulk of the bus came sliding towards me. The driver was powerless and I could see the fear in his eyes. I was about to close my eyes, waiting for the bus to hit my car, when all of a sudden, the traffic ahead started moving. I quickly, yet carefully accelerated and my car jumped forwards … away from the bus, which by then had slit further down the hill … without hitting any cars or other obstacles.
I continued my journey and well over an hour later, arrived safely home; legs trembling and with a face that could be described as ‘fifty shades of purple’ … The next morning I learnt that a colleague of mine who lived forty km south of Brussels, arrived home at 7 in the morning, having left the office at 2 p.m. She spent several hours sitting in her car on the motorway … without moving an inch and her gas tank almost empty. She had kept the motor running all the time, in order to keep warm. My ‘ordeal’ was peanuts compared to her adventure.
I hope it won’t come to that tomorrow morning. Anyway, I have taken my precautions, and have taken my laptop home with me. In a worst-case scenario, I can work from home, logging into the office computer using my personal token key. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately …and enjoy the peace and calm of my apartment and some good music on the radio. I work a lot faster when I’m on my own and not disturbed by the telephone or my colleagues’ chitchat.
This weather is ideal to enjoy some comfort food, like a home-made tomato soup with meatball: a Belgian classic appreciated and loved by young and old. And I have just that sitting on the stove right now. Can’t wait!