Trapped six hours, and nary a tweet. Am I normal?
Consider this post as comprising all of the tweets I did not send out during a five-and-a-half hour drive last week from my house, on a 15-mile trip to a hotel.
Background: When a storm is expected at a crucial hour, morning radio crews are put up in a hotel near our station so we don’t miss the start of our shift. Silence is not considered a virtue on radio.
I left Rockville, Md. Wednesday at about 4 p.m. I arrived at the hotel in Georgetown at about 9:30. Normally I am in bed by 8:30 since I get up at 2 a.m. Bless them, my co-host Amy Morris and producer Ruben Gomez were standing in the lobby by the window peering out onto the motor circle when I pulled in — they were reluctant to go to bed before knowing I’d arrived safely.
I won’t go into the ordeal itself, but suffice it to say that the entire Washington D.C. metro area was gridlocked. Literally, not merely in the expansive use of the word. For instance, the entire 64-mile circle of the Beltway was filled with cars and trucks and completely stopped.
I did have the presence of mind to phone in two live reports to WTOP, Washington’s main news station with whom Federal News Radio shares ownership and facilities.
But the sights and happenings out there, I didn’t tweet about! As thousands of fellow drivers will attest, the scene was almost surreal. Familiar, nearby roads turned to icy, forbidding alleys. Dead and abandoned cars and buses strewn about; a tourist bus doing pirouettes in the snow; snow blowing sideways; lightning fitfully jazzing the the skies.
My driver’s side windshield wiper quitting. Nearly running out of gas. The tree across Massachusetts Avenue that, I discovered the next day, had flattened a gray Chrysler.
Days later, I realized I hadn’t tweeted. When that realization arrived during a commercial break in the studio, Amy –a semi-pro tweeter — looked across the console at me as if I’d taken a trip to Tanganyika and forgotten the Kodachrome. In fact, I never thought about tweeting during the entire trip. Six hours in the car, mostly idling and thinking about horrible possibilities, and it never even occurred to me to send a Twitter message.
Of course, Kodachrome is the clue here. I’m a Kodachrome-era guy. (More on photographic technology in a future post.) Social media isn’t reflexive for me. It’s not an anti-technology bias, maybe just an instinctive default towards an individualistic attitude. “You’re stuck here, Temin, and no one cares, much less can do anything about it, so deal.” Not that Twitter would have helped me get out of the traffic. But maybe it would have been pricked the pressure of feeling that I would be behind the wheel of my old Chevy Blazer forever.
Come to think of it, I didn’t even take a picture with the camera in my BlackBerry.