Saturday - February 21, 2015
... what a difference an hour can make. Long story short, I'm still in Baltimore... and missed the show.
I woke up at 9:30... Mark was already awake and tiptoeing around the house as to not wake me up. We chatted for a bit in his studio about music and his newly built space, then headed out to iHop for breakfast.
The roads were clear.
We went in and it was sorta busy... short wait though. We ordered and chatted... I had to finally mention if it's crazy we're finally hangin' out in person. Again, we meet and interact with so many people "digitally" it's nice to finally meet them in real life.
One of the staff came by the table to grab an empty plate.
"... weather sure is getting bad out there."
... looking back it was like a scene out of a movie... foreshadowing.
We left around 11:30 and snow was blowing around pretty good. Mark and I chatted briefly and decided maybe it'd be best if he pack a couple things so if the weather is bad, he could crash in Harrisburg.
During the drive back to the house the truck was having problems on the road... fishtailing... there's a lot of hills but the main roads still seemed to be alright. It took a while to get back... the side roads told the real story though. Mark's house is in the middle of a bunch of hills... getting in was tricky enough... getting out of the area was getting worse by the minute.
Mark packed a small bag and we were back in the truck... even getting away from the curb was tricky at this point.
It. Was. Snowing.
... neither of us are stranger to snow storms but this accumulated fast.
We tried and failed to make it up 3 different hills... including going the wrong way on a one-way street.
I convinced Mark to abort and we headed back into the house.
Just looking out the window you could easily tell this was bad news... the hindsight started kicking in that we should've left as soon as we got up... just in case.
I texted Kyle the update and Mark and I started looking into options. The Greyhound bus had already left at 10:30am... there was a train at 2:30pm and 5:30pm... maybe the guys could come down and get me. I had faith in the van but I really didn't want the guys driving into this... this was getting bad.
Another hour quickly went by and it was not looking good to get out of here... couldn't even find a cab to take me
to the train station... hindsight, I should've walked... it was only 1.5hrs away according to google maps!
We asked if one of the guys in the studio downstairs (in the band recording) with a 4-wheel drive vehicle if they could give me a lift to the train station but they weren't (and totally understandably) interested.
Mark kept calling and texting people but everyone was in the same boat... roads are a mess. Besides, you know things are bad when even the cab companies are like "nope... try again tomorrow."
... anyway... the dilemma with the train is it's further downtown, which is further away from the highway... which was near the iHop... closer to where the guys would be coming in if they drove down.
Looking out the window I saw an Orange truck with a plow go by... I told Mark... he grabbed his bag and keys.
"... might as well try!"
We attempted to get up the hill and did end up getting up the hill... sideways.
I felt a lot of hope at this point... we both did. The glorious sight of a main road was... within sight!
... but the main roads also have hills... and the thing about main roads... they are main roads because lots of people use them.
... and we all know what happens to a large percentage of drivers when bad weather hits.
... this is bad.
Huge props to Mark for making it up a couple more hills... a lot of people were stuck and/or sliding all over the place.
We finally ended up 3ft from fishtailing into a large SUV parked in front of a Chinese restaurant. I joked it's probably their delivery guy picking up orders.
... we waited a few minutes.
I got out to check if anybody was actually in the SUV.
I ended up pushing the back end of Mark's truck to keep it from hitting the SUV while Mark tried to drive forward. It was getting really dangerous though once they were side by side.
... I mean... the thought of my vital organs getting crushed between two vehicles doing something sorta stupid in snow storm in Baltimore isn't how I want to go out... I was beginning to feel like I had to make a choice here... and that this was a possible outcome.
A large fellow came out and I asked him if it was his truck. He said yeah... they were asking the restaurant if they wanted help with deliveries today... "serious money to be made!"
Hindsight... "How much to deliver me to Harrisburg?"
I got back in the truck... I could tell Mark was stressed... he was still texting/making calls. We both knew we were stuck.
The SUV backed up a little and we fishtailed the rest of the way to the curb.
I called Kyle and gave him an update. I could tell he was a bit angry/annoyed on the phone that we left the house because Dave and Adam were on their way to get me... now I'm on the move and could mess everything up. I assured him the van would've had trouble in Mark's neighborhood... unless you're out here you don't know what's going down though. This is bad... and getting worse.
I asked Mark...
"How far is the walk back your house?"
"About 15 blocks."
"... how far is the highway from here... what's around it?"
*Mark checks his phone*
"... straight shot that way mile and half. There's the shopping center with the iHop."
*I look dramatically out the front window... then at Mark.*
"... I think we should split up... I got a better chance of getting picked up if I get to the highway and you can still get home."
... mind you, the thought of all this effort to get "a bass player" to a gig is making me laugh now but I was (still am) feeling sick about someone getting into an accident and/or hurt since nobody should be on the roads now. That'd be on my conscience... and as cliche as it sounds, safety first... people, places, and things.
... well unless that thing is a rental van.
People, rental vans, places, and things... in that order, always... today.
Mark and I bro'd our farewells, I put on my snow squall shades, and we went our separate ways.
I had hope walking... I felt like I was simply paying a debt for leaving the group. This kinda stuff happens... I'm a
realist but still felt like this was gonna work out... slowly but surely.
The snow was deep on the side of the road.
Sidewalks? What sidewalks at this point.
It was a cat and mouse game of walking past stuck and sliding vehicles then watching them pass me once they were going again.
Highlight was the yellow Jeep with a Batman spare tire cover... that's dedication to awesome.
I stopped to help out a couple people stuck trying to turn corners. Walking by someone who needs help is something a cat would do... but I don't think it comes natural to people. Plus I was still riding the adrenalin of pushing Mark's truck around a few times... I had super strength now of course!
Batman jeep ended up stuck behind a little Prius trying to turn a corner... he hopped out with a shovel (surprising/disappointingly not dressed as Batman or Bruce Wayne) and started digging him out. I caught up and offered to help.
I pushed the back end of the Prius out and everyone was on their way.
I walked a couple more blocks then heard a voice call out to my left...
"Hey... did you want a ride? Where are you headed?"
"The iHop near the 695... I need pancakes f'n bad!!!"
(I didn't actually mention the pancakes)
"I'm headed there too... wife is stranded."
So I'm now in the Bat Jeep.
The driver's name is Mike and he immediately asked me where I'm from.
"Yeah I could tell you were Canadian by your accent."
(me half joking)
"I'm a big wrestling fan... not sure if you are but ya'll sound like Bret Hart."
I can accept that... at least I don't sound like Macho Man or Ultimate Warrior... then again he probably wouldn't have picked me up if I sounded like Ultimate Warrior... then again... again... I probably would've ran back to Harrisburg by now if I was the Ultimate Warrior.
I'm going to make it.
We arrive at the iHop and behold... a McDonald's! Wifi!!!
Wifi is up there with a hot shower in modern times while traveling.
I go in...
"Hi. Can I take your order?"
"... hi... what's your address?"
(Just so you understand the context, I'm asking this question to a clearly gay petite black man.)
I put it (McDonald's address) into my phone and tell him I'll be back in a bit.
I update the guys and have a seat.
Dave and Adam are well on their way. I'm close to the highway... this is going to work.
I sat for an hour or so watching many cars get stuck on what I think is the last hill before the highway.
... I'll admit... my gut told me even if the guys get here... that hill will be our downfall.
Again, I've felt sick all day but watching what unfolded every few minutes on that hill... cars, trucks, SUVs, an 18-wheeler... all took turns getting stuck and dangerously close to wrecking on that hill.
It's the lights at the bottom. If you lose your speed and you're toast in these conditions.
I made friends with an older lady (Karen) who sat beside me and made a comment loud enough to provoke a response.
She was the type bordering on homeless or just forgotten by her loved ones. Obviously a local there (brought her own McDonald's coffee cup she refilled several times) and stared out the window commenting on the same few things over and over.
She told me her favorite place in the world was Amsterdam and she moved to NY from Baltimore when she was young to become an actress.
I kept checking in with Adam and Dave... Adam's responses got more concerning... they had been stuck several times and highway traffic was crawling... eventually hinting they should turn back given the chance.
I agreed... safety first.
I asked them where they were? Closest landmark?
"Pottery Barn Mall...?"
I scanned for it on GoogleMaps... they were a 10 minute drive under normal conditions away.
I told myself while walking earlier "don't get mad... just keep moving forward."
It was starting to get dark. It's funny how much daylight and darkness can affect your mood.
I was starting to get angry.
The sound of Karen's questions, comments, and "huh?" after my first attempt to answer any of her questions was beginning to really eat away at my nerves.
There were no more buses and trains going, or rental vans coming. It was 5:48pm... it was a 3.1 mile (1 hr) walk back to Mark's house. I wasn't going to make the show.
I was officially that guy.
I texted Mark the update... he said hold tight and he'd see what he can do... he thought I was already picked up and on my way.
I would make the walk back to Mark's but I was dreading it... 3.1 miles in a snowstorm... literally uphill both ways because it's all friggin' hills everywhere!?
"My stepdad is on his way! Blue Silverado!"
... dad powers and a 4-wheel drive pickup truck... this could work!
They pulled into the parking lot 40 mins later. A tall and large fellow wearing a Baltimore Orioles hat and Baltimore Ravens shirt underneath an open coat hopped out and pointed at me through the window.
I ran outside without my coat or backpack to greet him.. and that I just got a food order from the guys at the house if they're ok to wait a few mins. He told me Mark's Mom had packed spaghetti for us.
Mom spaghetti!! This could work!!
I went back in, grabbed my stuff and hopped in the truck.
We made it around the corner until I caved...
"... sorry, but can we go back? The guys sent their food order, I'm not sure how many are stuck there and I'm gonna feel really bad if we could've brought enough food and didn't."
"Yeah no problem!"
Parental understanding and understanding of the kids!!!
... yeah we're in our 30's... we're still kids to parents.
I have to admit... this truck was awesome... this snow storm was no problem in this thing.
I ran back in, asked Karen if she wanted anything (3 times) then ordered a pile of food for $21.47. Fast food is hilariously/frighteningly cheap here compared to Canada.
We made our way home.
We were passing a liquor store and Mark's Mom wondered if they should grab anything for "the boys".
A confident left-hand turn, monster trucking several snowbanks into the liquor store driveway told me Mark's stepdad thought the boys did!
As angry as I was about the whole situation, the ride back to the house cheered me up. The comforting effects of parents caring had taken hold.
We arrive back at Mark's house and everyone gathered in the kitchen.
Mark's Mom asked me if I wanted a beer or wine or anything... normally an easy no 100% of the time... but today... even though it tastes like rotten poison... today... let's give that glass of wine a try.
They must've been here almost an hour... I was still messaging back and forth with Kyle... I guess the weather was bad in Harrisburg too... Dave and Adam had made it back but a lot of shows were cancelled (yes!! - selfishly to pacify my guilt and anger)... but it looked like our show was still a go (frig... - throwing a gasoline soaked log into my garbage can fire of guilt and anger).
Everyone seemed to be safe though... and this winter storm apparently had a name now... Winter Storm Pandora!
I made peace I was missing the show but wouldn't move on mentally until midnight... once the set was for sure done.
There's a plan to head back asap tomorrow... fingers crossed it's smoother than today.
... speaking of... as bad as I feel, thumbing this adventure out the last 3 hours on my phone has made me feel a bit better.
Thank you to whoever took the time and made it to the end. I can joke about how much trouble was made getting a bass player to a gig tonight but it's so much more than that to those who understand...
... live music is one of the best things ever... and it's even better if you're the ones performing it.
Seeing Helmet last night was an event I didn't want to miss... the show tonight with The Sole Pursuit was something I didn't want to miss... but I missed it and regardless how unimportant it might be to people who don't understand, it's really important to bands.
... just keep that in mind before you poke fun.
... I mean... you can still poke fun... just know where to pick your spots.
... I should try and get some rest... let the rumble and grind of street plows put me to sleep.
Mike Langford - Official Blog
Being on both sides of the glass, I get the chance to wear many hats in the music industry. This is a place to share my thoughts, views, predictions, rants, stories and news!