Tuesday, November 21, 2006

When the interstate and info highway come to a stop

It felt like Friday the 13th.

It began with an attempt for some of us to travel the interstate between Portland and Salem this morning.

I was traveling from Salem to Portland, and our sales rep Cathleen Hogan was trying to get from Portland to Salem.

Accidents along the way, including a semi-trailer rollover north of Salem, Ore. caused major backups when all lanes northbound and later even southbound were closed as authorities attempted to clean up the mess.

Result? Cathleen spent a lot of time in long lines going southbound, then used backroads to get to work, about an hour and a half later than usual.

Meanwhile, I was attempting to travel northbound and as a large amount of time passed and I had gone between 2 mph and a complete stop for most of the 45 minutes, I realized I would not make my appointment in Portland. I called to say I might be a wee bit late. But hopefully I would be able to make that usual one-hour trip to my destination by the end of the day, I said optimistically.

The Portland people I was scheduled to meet were less optimistic and cancelled my meeting. I don't blame them. They see Portland's downtown traffic each day. I usually have just a 15-20 minute commute home from the office. I may be a bit naive about these things.

Returning cheerfully to the office after I slowly crawled to the nearest exit at the blinding speed of about 3 mph, I found the info highway had a few roadblocks.

Our email was down. Our internet access was down. This lasted the majority of today, as our brave and courageous production manager Barbara Nipp tried to steer us through the problems, navigate the challenges and carry us to our ultimate destination of getting our newspaper finished.

Did I mention that, thanks to Thanksgiving, our deadline had been moved up earlier to ... today?

As by the end of the day a few of our emails and internet sites began to trickle back towards smoother service, I noticed the vehicular traffic was beginning to slow down again outside to the usual traffic jams and the radio stations began to declare how many accidents there were between Salem and Portland.

As Cathleen left to commute back to Portland, I wished her luck.

Maybe we all better look for some four-leafed clovers before we travel on highways — real ones or computer ones — tomorrow.

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